The Irish roots of The Boss


Bruce Springsteen (@Matthew Orel)
How It’s (New Jersey) New York: Bruce Springsteen is our hometown hero, and made us proud to be from Jersey, even while SNL and others made fun of us.
How It’s Irish: Turns out he has Irish roots.
I was so happy to hear Glen Hansard singing Bruce Springsteen’s “Drive All Night” at the concert at (le) Poisson Rouge on June 28, and add “The Parting Glass” over it, that it seemed like fate when I found this piece on Bruce Springsteen’s Irish roots in Irish Central (originally published in on Tuesday, July 10th).
As lots of you know, I am a Jersey girl. What you may not know is that my brother Matthew writes a lot, and I mean a LOT, about Bruce (check him out here). So much so that occasionally someone refers to him as THE Matt Orel. He occasionally shows up in town, family in tow, and, I understand, recently was backstage where Bruce gave my niece Elianna a harmonica.  Here’s a concert review he wrote in April.  Matthew has contributed some photographs to Backstreets. And he’s getting pretty good, I think!
So although I personally have never met Bruuuuuce (though I have, obviously, met Matthew, and the rock critic Dave Marsh, who knows Bruce well), I feel only a degree away.
Here’s James O’Shea on Bruce’s Irish roots as The Boss prepares to play in Dublin on July 17.

This article was first published in on Tuesday, July 10.

Bruce Springsteen’s Irish roots traced before his upcoming Dublin concert

Westmeath town lays claim to ‘The Boss’ as he prepares for Dublin gig


IrishCentral Staff Writer

Bruce Springsteen performing live at the Grammy's 2012

Bruce Springsteen performing live at the Grammy’s 2012
Photo by Google Images

Bruce Springsteen is being invited to the Midlands town of Mullingar after a new book traces his Irish roots to that area. The rocker is playing Dublin on July 17th.
The book Land of Hopes and Dreams by Greg Lewis and Moira Sharkey traces Springsteen’s roots to his great great grandmother Ann Garrity who left Westmeath for America in the 1850s.
Lewis and Sharkey  discovered that Springsteen has Irish roots through his paternal grandmother Martha O’Hagan. She married Springsteen’s grandfather, Anthony Springsteen, who was of Dutch ancestry, in 1899.

And it turns out that Martha’s grandmother, Ann Garrity, hailed from County Westmeath.
In fact, Springsteen’s great-great-granny hails from Mullingar, the very same town as the late, lamented Joe Dolan.

Garrity left Ireland in 1852, five years after the famine devastated much of Ireland.
She settled in the town of Freehold, New Jersey, where Bruce himself was born 60 years ago.

Springsteen went to the Catholic St Rose of Lima School, where he was taught by Irish nuns.

Springsteen requested a signed copy of the book when it came out.
Mullingar Town Council and Westmeath County Council have now invited “The Boss” to visit his Irish roots.

A spokesperson told the Irish Mirror paper: 

“I was delighted to hear Bruce Springsteen has roots here. I look forward to welcoming him to his ancestral home.”

The book’s co-author Greg Lewis told the paper: 

“Family and roots are something that are important to Bruce and you can see it in the music.”

“His wife Patty actually has roots in Belfast as well so there is a big connection with both of them.”

The book’s other author Moira Sharkey also revealed that the Boss had ordered a copy of the book for himself.

“Bruce has not been back in Ireland since the book came out. So we were delighted when he ordered a copy and also signed one for us.”

James O’Shea wrote more about Springsteen’s Irish ancestors last year; read about them here!

Gwen Orel
About the Author

The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.