Museum Week – Maggie Cline, The Irish Queen

It’s the final day of Museum Week, a 7 day online celebration of museums, galleries and cultural institutions around the globe. This year’s theme is ‘Women in Culture’, and over the 7 days a different lifestyle topic will be used to explore and expand upon this year’s theme. Today the focus is on heritage. Follow the discussions as part of Museum Week online and on social media with the hashtags #WomenMW and #HeritageMW.

Members of the Irish diaspora in the United States have played a central role in the promotion and transmission of Irish heritage and culture through their innovation, talent, strong character and belief.

For instance, the immensely popular and much-loved vaudeville singer Maggie Cline, known as “The Irish Queen”, is the epitome of an Irish musical success. Even though she was born in Boston to Irish immigrant parents, Cline managed to maintain her unique Irish charm, her voice demonstrating an authenticity her audience adored.

Cline went to work at merely 12 years of age to work in a shoe factory, until moving to Boston at just 16 to join a Burlesque troupe called ‘Snellbaker and Benson’s Majestic’. Her performance style combined her strong Irish accent with Irish themed, traditional songs, her most famous one being ‘Mary Anne Keehoe’, a piece about two men pining after an Irish girl. She also starred in numerous Broadway shows, her individual sound reaching extensive audiences.

Cline’s most well-known song, which was frequently requested during her performances, was John W. Kelly’s “Throw Him Down, McCloskey,” written in 1890. Prior to her retirement in 1917, Maggie Cline herself estimated she had performed that song approximately 75,000 times in total. Cline consistently performed in New York throughout her fruitful career – more of which can be read in our ‘Music and Dance’ gallery at EPIC.

Catch up on our special blog series for Museum Week. Read our first article on Isabella McDougall here, our second piece on Sarah Durack here, our third piece on Marie Narell here, our fourth piece on Edna O’Brien here, and our fifth piece on Margaret Mitchell here, and our sixth piece on Annie Besant here.