Music and poetry were an integral part of ancient Gaelic culture. Bards, harpers and pipers, were held in very high esteem by the Kingdoms of the Gaels. Their poems and songs celebrate mythical heroes, kings, love and war. They have enriched our literature, music and history.
It was this sentiment that brought together the Boston Police Gaelic Column's founding members in 1992, on the tragic occasion of a brother Police Officer's death. Boston Police Officer Jeremiah Hurley, a member of the department's Ordnance Disposal Unit (bomb squad), was killed in the line of duty, while defusing an explosive device. At the time of Officer Hurley's funeral there were no police bagpipe bands anywhere in New England, and the New York Transit Police pipe band was called on to play. On that day the seeds were sown that were to become the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes & Drums.
The first meeting to organize the Column was held at the famous Doyle's Cafe in Jamaica Plain. With more than ninety Officers in attendance, the Gaelic Column was becoming a reality. Pipe and drum instructors were hired, uniforms were chosen, and rehearsals soon followed.
Within a year of that first meeting, Boston Police Officer Thomas Rose was killed in the line of duty. The Rose family requested the Gaelic Column play at his funeral. Overnight air couriers had to delivere new kilts and uniforms. Then in single digit temperatures, the Column solemnly piped down Officer Thomas Rose, our first of many police officer funerals.
With these inspired beginnings, the Gaelic Column came together to perform at various cultural events and parades around Boston. As a result of this dedication, the band has exceeded everyone's expectations. Although we are often remembered for our performances at many police funerals over the years, the band has won awards and recognition locally and overseas. In the 1996 Cork City St. Patrick's Day Parade, Ireland, The Column earned the Patrick J. Murphy Trophy for best pipe band in the parade. The following year, on March 17th, 1997, again in Cork City the Gaelic Column won the Best Entry in Parade trophy. Neither trophy had ever been previously awarded to an American band.
The Column has seen many milestones since its modest beginnings, but one really great moment was in September 1999 with a spectacular performance at the opening and closing ceremonies of golf's great rivalry, the Ryder Cup at the Country Club in Brookline. The estimated size of the viewing audience was 45 million people. The hard work that went into that performance was evident in the feedback from the PGA, Ryder Cup Organizing Committee, The Country Club and NBC Sports. The Column performed aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. John F. Kennedy. The band also performed aboard the Irish Navy vessel; L. E. Eithne, while both were visiting the port of Boston. The Column performed aboard the U.S.S. Constitution on its 200th birthday sail in Boston Harbor.
The Gaelic Column has frequently visited Ireland over the years. Our primary mission was to march in the Saint Patrick's Day Parades in Cork City, Mallow, Macroom, Sheeps Head and Courtmacsherry. During one trip over also proudly dedicated of the Captain Francis O'Neil Statue in Bantry. During a dangerous breakout of a cattle disease, where most parades and public gathering were cancelled by the Irish Government, the Column visited Athone and brought Saint Patrick's Day to the schools, hospitals, nursing homes and as many surrounding Public Houses in the area as we could.
Every year the Column has proudly leads Boston's, Saint Patrick's Day Parade in Southie.
We have also had the great pleasure to have performed with Boston’s own Dropkick Murphys on a number of occasions.
Our schedule is filled with charity events and public performances. Numerous private conventions, celebrations, weddings and funerals also keep the schedule full. The dedication and pride of our members in their profession, music, and traditions have been extraordinary through the years and continues.
PHOTO CREDIT: BILL BRETT