Senator Linda Dorcena Forry is making history this St. Patrick’s Day in South Boston.
As the first ever black woman and Dorcheseter resident, Dorcena Forry will be a breath of fresh air as the host of the 70 year-old St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast. She is taking her role as emcee seriously and has been preparing for it by learning Irish dance, writing jokes, producing pre-recorded video skits and consulting with past hosts like Jack Hart, Congressman Stephen Lynch and the legendary William Bulger. “Bill Bulger is a friend and he and his wife Mary have been very generous in giving both their time and encouragement. He’s always been very supportive of my career and— especially now— he’s got plenty of advice on the breakfast. He was the master of the emcee role and no one, I think, will ever rival Bill Bulger for his wit and sharp lines.”
Back in May of 2013, Dorcena Forry won the election for the First Suffolk Senate seat made vacant by her predecessor and Southie resident Jack Hart. She ran against Representative Nick Collins and Caught in Southie Editor Maureen Dahill. The First Suffolk district includes South Boston, Dorchester, Mattapan and part of Hyde Park a very large and diverse area. “This is a bigger district, obviously, with more ground to cover. My eight years in the House prepared me well for the policy matters that demand our attention and for the constant management of constituent requests. It’s very important to me that any requests that come into our office be handled as promptly and efficiently as possible. So, I have been focused on assembling an excellent staff who can assist me in making sure the residents of the First Suffolk District get that level of service and accountability.”
Another challenge that most busy working moms can relate to is juggling family responsibilities and a busy work schedule. “Balancing family time with work is a challenge for all of us with young kids and that’s my biggest challenge too. I want to make sure my children have my attention as much as possible because time goes by so quickly.”
The scoop on Linda:
- She grew up in Dorchester’s Uphams Corner neighborhood. “My parents bought a house on Howard Ave., where they still live, in what used to be called St. Paul’s parish. That was my home for the first 26 years of my life until I got married in 2000. My pastor at St. Paul’s (later Holy Family Parish) was Fr. Bill Francis, who was a proud South Boston native. Fr. Francis, who baptized and married me, was a huge influence in my life and— along with my parents— made sure my siblings and I were on the right path. He was also my introduction to Boston Irish humor— which has served me well.”
- She now lives in the Lower Mills neighborhood of Dorchester with her husband Bill Forry (editor of the Dorchester Reporter) and their four children: John Patrick is 10 years old; Conor is 7; Madeline is 3; and Norah will be 2 in July.
- Went to St. Kevin’s Grammar School and Monsignor Ryan Memorial High School. She graduated from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management and recently completed a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and will graduate in May.
- After graduation from BC, she worked for State Representative Charlotte Golar Richie.
- She served on Democratic Committees in Ward 13 and Ward 17. “I have spent close to two decades working in the public sector and have loved every minute of it.”
All eyes will be on Dorcena Forry as she takes center stage after months of hard work and preparation unfold at the Boston Convention Center. There promises to be jokes, good old fashioned ribbing, singing and a few surprises. “I’m excited about at least one, maybe two, surprise guests who I think will come to the breakfast.” When pressed for hints as to what types of surprises might be in store Linda smiled and joked, “I don’t want Caught in Southie to have to live with the guilt of ruining such a historic moment! Next question!”
What is your biggest fear about hosting the breakfast?
Singing. I love to sing and I love Irish music too. I’ve been to Ireland several times and we play Irish and Irish-American music in my home. I grew up with Irish music in school in Dorchester of course, too. But, singing on stage— that’s a little nerve wracking. It’s also a bit of a tall order to accommodate all of the dignitaries who’ll be there that day and to give them each the time that they’d like to have on the mic. It’s a tight schedule and managing it will be my job— so I’m ready.
Who will your back up band be?
I am already rehearsing with Bob Fowkes, who leads Curragh’s Fancy and will play most of the music. Bob Fowkes has been doing this for years with Congressman Lynch (for whom he works and does an incredible job as District Director), Senator Hart and Councilor Linehan. He’s amazingly talented and he’s been helping me out a lot.
Favorite Irish song?
I love the song, “If You’re Irish, Come Into the Parlour.” We’ll definitely be singing that one. I also like “Wild Rover.”
Will there be wardrobe changes?
That one I can answer without guilt or pressure: Yes! I will absolutely appear in several different outfits —live and on video. And I will consult with Caught in Southie on all of them!
You’re husband Bill’s family is from Ireland, how many times have you visited there?
I‘ve been to Ireland three times. I hope to go again soon. Bill and I really loved going— and we’d be there more often— but it’s hard to get all of us Forrys on a plane these days. The last time we visited, we brought our first son along— that was in August 2006. Bill has family in Sligo— so when we go we like to visit them. We’ve been all over the west and south of Ireland too. I really loved Dingle, Galway and Kinsale— amazing restaurants, pubs and water views. Ireland is a very welcoming place and we’ve always enjoyed it. We’ll definitely be back.
Favorite thing about South Boston.
Easy: It used to be part of Dorchester. (That’s a joke!) Southie is a great community. I love the sense of ownership that people take over the parks, the beaches and the sidewalks. I think there’s a genuine interest in looking out for one another here that has an old-school quality that folks from outside South Boston don’t always interpret the right way. It’s really the way that most folks would prefer to live in a city: Everyone looks after one another.
Favorite restaurant in Southie?
Never mind you and your trick questions…I love the cozy atmosphere at Cranberry Cafe and Sullivan’s has great snap dogs but there are too many to choose from! I like places with good appetizers and cold Bud Lights that won’t cost me a fortune. I’ve got four kids to feed, so a decent kids’ menu is a must.
Are you hopeful that MassEquality will march in this year’s parade? Will you march this year?
As you know, I did not walk last year because of this issue. I’m cautiously optimistic that an agreement is close and I am encouraged that the conversation is alive and progressing. I always remain hopeful, because— truthfully—there are good people on both sides of this divide and we’re a lot closer to a resolution than even some of them know. I am hopeful that a breakthrough will come this year. My family would love to walk.
So on March 16th at 10am, Dorcena Forry will make history as the first ever black woman and Dorchester native to host the St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast and all eyes will be upon her. “I think folks are rooting for me to do well and make them proud. I get that sentiment everywhere I go in Southie and throughout the district; folks from all walks of life. People stop me on the street or in line at the coffee shop or send me personal notes to just say, ‘You can do it. We’re with you.’ I want people to see that side of our community because a lot of times the old, cliche message gets communicated and that’s all people think about. We’ve come a long way beyond the old stereotypes and I’m pleased that I can play a small role in changing that storyline. But, mostly, I just want people to have fun and leave the breakfast with a smile on their face.”
The Breakfast will be broadcast live on New England Cable News (NECN) starting at 10am on Sunday March 16th.
(photo by Joel Benjamin)