Announcing the Winners of our Trail Blazer Award

January 6, 2023

The South Shore Irish Heritage Trail is proud to announce the first winners of the Trail Blazer Award, State Senator, Patrick O’Connor and Professor Emerita Catherine Shannon.

Awards will be presented on February 4, 2023, at the Trail’s Black Velvet Soirée and Fundraiser.

Senator O’Connor and Professor Shannon’s contributions to our country, state, and the South Shore exemplify the goal of the hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants to our shores, i.e. to achieve the American Dream, using politics and education as the means to do so.


Catherine Shannon

Catherine Shannon

Historians are an interesting lot and there are many professional and amateur historians that call the South Shore home. Among them is internationally acclaimed Catherine B. Shannon, PhD, a prolific researcher, writer and educator. Dr. Shannon has also served as president of the Eire Society of Boston and the Charitable Irish Society of Boston. In 1982, Dr. Shannon organized the first Symposium on Northern Ireland that brought Irish and British representatives together to discuss the political issues of the time. The event was held at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. There were three symposiums held over the years and these events lead the way for peace in Northern Ireland.

In 1994 Dr. Shannon received an award from the Charitable Irish Society for her work as an organizer for peace for Northern Ireland. Also in 1994, Dr. Shannon received the annual achievement award from the Irish Immigration Center of Boston. She served as President of the Charitable Irish Society which was founded in 1737. She had been a member of the society beginning in 1985 and she also served on their board of directors.

In 1997 Dr. Shannon won the Phi Kappa Phi Lecture Series Competition with her essay “The Changing Face of Cathleen Ni Houlihan: The Status of Women in Ireland, 1960 to 1996.”

In 2015 Dr. Shannon was awarded a gold medal citation from the Eire Society of Boston. This citation was awarded for the accomplishments of those who exemplify the best in Irish culture and ideals.

Dr. Shannon retired from Westfield State College in 2000. She is now Emerita Professor of History. (Westfield State University Collection Guides, Catherine B. Shannon Collection 1979-1991)


Senator Patrick O'ConnorSenator Patrick O’Connor

Patrick O’Connor is the State Senator for the Plymouth & Norfolk District, which is comprised of the Towns of Cohasset, Duxbury, Hingham, Hull, Marshfield, Norwell, Scituate, and Weymouth.

Patrick has committed his career to public service – having won a seat on the Weymouth Town Council at 21 years old, serving as then-State Senator Hedlund’s Legislative Director for eight years, and having served as the South Shore’s State Senator since winning a special election in May 2016. As State Senator, Patrick has geared his efforts toward economic growth, education enrichment, substance use treatment, veteran services, environmental protection, and advocating for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Patrick has established a strong reputation among his colleagues as a Legislator who values bipartisanship, fiscal responsibility, governmental transparency, and constituent services. In his free time, Patrick can often be found watching or talking about Boston sports and is an avid Celtics fan. Patrick attended Weymouth Public Schools and Kingston University in England.

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