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Brown Bag Lecture Series
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Matthew Jude Barker speaks at the Brown Bag Lecture Series

Wednesday, March 26 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Location: Main Library
Audience: Adults, Teens, Kids & Families, Seniors

matthew jude barker coverThe Irish of Portland, Maine:  A History of Forest City Hibernians

The Irish have influenced the city of Portland since it was first established in the seventeenth century. Today’s vibrant Catholic community owes its origins to Irish immigrants in Portland’s earliest days, when beloved leaders like Father French provided solace to souls far from home. The church helped them adapt and adapted along with them, affecting the city in many ways. Portland’s Irish faced discrimination, especially in the years before the Civil War, when anti-Irish sentiment surged and burnings and violence erupted, like the June 1855 Rum Riot. Despite this, many Portland Irish took up arms for the United States in the Civil War, and their participation in this conflict helped them become assimilated. Join local expert Matthew Jude Barker as he explores the triumphs and challenges of the Irish of Portland before the twentieth century.

Matthew Jude Barker is a lifelong resident of Greater Portland and graduated from South Portland High School in 1992. He has been a genealogical and historical researcher since 1981 and is a resident genealogist and historian at the Maine Irish Heritage Center. Since 1996, Matt has been the author of Maine history articles for many magazines, including Portland, Galway Roots and Discover Maine. He was a contributing writer to several books, including They Change Their Sky: The Irish in Maine (2004) and John Ford in Focus (2008), and is working on a history of the Portland Irish during the Civil War. Matt is the writer and compiler of The Downeast Shamrock, an Irish genealogy newsletter, and the Maine Irish Heritage Trail (see In 2012, he received a “40 Under 40” award from the Irish Echo, a New York newspaper.


About the Series » Brown Bag Lecture Series

Portland Public Library’s Brown Bag Lecture Series features bi-weekly reading and question-and-answer sessions with authors from around the nation as well as those who hail from right here in Maine.

All Brown Bag Lectures are free to the public (unless specifically noted as a fundraiser). Because they usually take place over the lunch hour, guests are encouraged to bring their lunch; coffee provided by Coffee By Design. Special thanks to our Brown Bag Lecture Series coffee sponsor, Coffee by Design. Books on sale at each lecture courtesy of Longfellow Books, who generously donates a portion of the proceeds to the Portland Public Library.

Questions about our Brown Bag Lectures? Please send us an e-mail.
Want to hear one from the past?  Maine Humanities Council has come and recorded a few of our talks, listen here!