Inductees in Immigrants: Irish

  1. Joseph Banigan (1839-1898)

    Inducted in 2005

    Joseph Banigan (1839-1898) and his parents were part of a wave of Irish Catholic refugees who fled the Potato Famine in Ireland.  Arriving in Rhode Island in 1847, he attended school for one year before becoming a full-time worker at age nine. Over the next fifty years he employed the "pluck and luck" characteristics of Yankee entrepreneurs to build a local footwear empire before assuming the presidency of the United States Rubber Company in 1893.  

    Banigan was a youthful apprentice in the jewelry industry before tinkering with rubber products. Read more >

  2. Bishop George Berkeley

    Bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753)

    Inducted in 1998

    Berkeley, George, 1685-1753

    Eighteenth century Rhode Island’s most famous scholar was Irish clergyman George Berkeley (pronounced Bar-clay), Anglican essayist and philosopher, who renovated and resided at the beautifully preserved Whitehall Farm in present-day Middletown during his eventful stay in America from 1729 to 1731.

    Berkeley was born in Ireland in 1685 and educated at Trinity College, Dublin where he then became a lecturer in Divinity, Greek, and Hebrew.  In 1724 he was appointed Anglican Dean of Derry, and in 1729 Berkeley crossed the Atlantic to inquire into the condition and character of the North American Indians in expectation of a royal grant for founding a college for Native American youth on the island of Bermuda.  By accident or design, he landed in Newport in the company of Scottish-born artist John Smibert who had earlier emigrated to Boston and was returning to America after a period of study at Rome and London. Read more >

  3. James Hanley

    James Hanley (1841-1912)

    Inducted in 2007


    Hanley, James, 1841-1912

    James Hanley was born in Roscommon, Ireland and came to America with his parents as a child in 1846 during the Great Famine migration.  He rose from poverty to prominence as Rhode Island’s leading brewer.

    Hanley’s first important step into the world of business came in January 1862, at the age of twenty, when he opened an inn and liquor store in downtown Providence. In 1876 he began his career as a brewer in partnership with fellow-Irishman John P. Read more >

  4. Mayor Patrick J. McCarthy

    Mayor Patrick J. McCarthy (1848-1921)

    Inducted in 2008

    McCarthy, Patrick Joseph, 1848-1921

    Mayor Patrick J. McCarthy  was the only immigrant ever to serve as mayor of Providence. Born in County Sligo, Ireland in 1848, his family fled the Potato Famine in 1850 only to be quarantined on Deer Island in Boston Harbor. Both his parents died there. Read more >

  5. U.S. Rep. George F. O'Shaunessy

    U.S. Rep. George F. O'Shaunessy (1868-1934)

    Inducted in 2010

    O'Shaunessy, George Francis, 1868-

    George Francis O’Shaunessy was born in Galway, Ireland on May 1, 1868. His parents came to America when he was a child and settled in New Jersey. George was educated in New York City parochial schools and received a law degree from Columbia University in 1889. Thereafter he acquired a reputation as an able lawyer and a political reformer. Read more >



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