Patrick J. McCarthy

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Patrick J. McCarthy
Patrick J. McCarthy Mayor of Providence.jpg
24th Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island
In office
January 1907 – January 1909
Preceded by Elisha Dyer, Jr.
Succeeded by Henry Fletcher
Personal details
Born (1848-09-12)September 12, 1848
Greenvagh Parish, County Sligo, Ireland
Died March 13, 1921(1921-03-13) (aged 72)
Providence, Rhode Island
Resting place St. Francis Cemetery, Pawtucket
Nationality Irish-American
Political party Democratic
Residence Providence, Rhode Island
Alma mater Harvard Law School
Occupation Lawyer

Patrick Joseph McCarthy (September 12, 1848 – March 13, 1921) was the 24th mayor of Providence, Rhode Island and the first Providence mayor born in a foreign country.

Early life[edit]

Patrick McCarthy was born in Geevagh[1][2][1], County Sligo, Ireland,[3] on September 12, 1848.[4] His family came to the United States to avoid the potato famine in 1850.[5] The family was quarantined on Deer Island in Boston Harbor, and both Patrick's parents died there.[5] Patrick and his five brothers were separated into different orphanages, adoption agencies, and homes of relatives.[3][6] Young "P.J.", as he was known, lived with various extended relatives and poor houses, until a wealthy Bostonian agreed to fund his education.[5]

McCarthy moved to Providence in 1868, then earned a law degree from Harvard University Law School in 1876.[5]


McCarthy became involved in fraternal and educational societies in the Catholic Church and became known in Providence's growing Irish Catholic community.[5] McCarthy became a prominent lawyer and served on the City Council and the Rhode Island House of Representatives in the 1890s.[6]

He ran for the Providence Mayor's office on a progressive reform ticket in 1906, as a long shot candidate.[6] He was a populist, and attacked the local trolley monopoly, tax policies, and educational barriers.[5] He was in favor of expanding suffrage.[5] He was in favor of eight-hour workdays for city workers, retirement pay for teachers, and pensions for police and firefighters.[3]

The Cranston Street Armory was built during McCarthy's term.[3]

Death, burial, and legacy[edit]

McCarthy died on March 13, 1921 and he is buried at St. Francis Cemetery, in Pawtucket.[5] A large, ornate Celtic cross marks his resting place.[5][6] After his death, the New England elite pointed to McCarthy as an example of how Irish immigrants could succeed in America if they worked hard.[6]

His portrait in Providence City Hall was restored in 2012, and for a time hung above the mantle in the office of then-mayor Angel Taveras.[7]

McCarthy was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2008.[5]


  1. ^ "GEEVAGH -". Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  2. ^ Society, American-Irish Historical; Murray, Thomas Hamilton; Lawler, Thomas Bonaventure; McGowan, Patrick F.; Lee, Thomas Zanslaur; Daly, Edward Hamilton; Coyle, John G.; McSweeney, Edward Francis; Murphy, John Joseph (1921-01-01). The Journal of the American Irish Historical Society ... The Society.
  3. ^ a b c d "Mayors of the City of Providence". The City of Providence website. Retrieved 9 Jan 2016.
  4. ^ Patrick J. McCarthy at Find a Grave
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Inductee details: Mayor Patrick J. McCarthy". Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e Malloy, Scott. "THE IRISH IN RHODE ISLAND: A Long Struggle to Enter the Mainstream". Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial Committee, Inc. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Mayor Taveras Unveils Restored Portrait of Mayor Patrick J. McCarthy". City Archives. City of Providence. Retrieved 10 January 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Mary Josephine Bannon, ed., Autobiographical Memoirs of Hon. Patrick J. McCarthy (Providence: Providence Visitor Press, 1927).

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Elisha Dyer, Jr.
Mayor of Providence
Succeeded by
Henry Fletcher