The Museum of Newport Irish History has announced the first talk in its 20th Annual Michael F. Crowley Lecture Series, to be presented “virtually” on Monday, September 13, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom. 

Dr. John Quinn and Mr. Keith Stokes will present a talk entitled, “Shared Spaces: The Irish and African Heritage Experience in Gilded Age Newport.” The lecture has been made possible by a gift from Virginia Pittsley, given in memory of her husband, Bill Pittsley, and their son, Jay Pittsley, according to The Museum of Newport Irish History.

Keith Stokes will examine neighborhoods including West Broadway/Kerry Hill and Memorial Boulevard/Historic Hill and show how Irish and African heritage families interacted within them. He will also discuss George T. Downing and the
Rev. Mahlon Van Horne and explain the leading roles that they played in campaigns for equal rights and voting rights.

John Quinn will seek to demonstrate that the two groups were often allies as well as neighbors. He will focus on Irish leaders such as Father James Coyle, the pastor of St. Joseph’s Church. Coyle sought to include Downing and other black leaders at lectures and performances promoting Home Rule for Ireland, the temperance movement, and the campaign to extend suffrage to foreign-born Rhode Islanders.

Keith Stokes is Vice President with the 1696 Heritage Group, a historical consulting firm.  A native of Newport, Mr. Stokes is a frequent national, state and local lecturer in community & regional planning, historic preservation, and interpretation with an expertise in early African and Jewish American history.  John F. Quinn is Professor of History at Salve Regina University, where he has taught since 1992. Dr. Quinn specializes in Irish history and American ethnic and religious history. 

The lecture is free of charge, but reservations are required to receive the Zoom login information.

To reserve, please visit the “Lectures” page at, where you may also access descriptions and videotapes of past lectures.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).