John Curran, an Irishman with a generous heart and a golden voice, died on Wednesday, June 21, after battling heart disease for many years. He was 73. He is survived by his wife Kitty, their four children, Sean, Tricia, Deirdre and Maura, seven grandchildren, and extended family in Ireland, including siblings, Donal, Maureen and Marion.
Born in Waterville, County Kerry and raised in Crosshaven, Cork, Curran emigrated to Boston in 1955 at age 16. Shortly after he met his future wife Kitty Ryan, from Ballinagare, Roscommon, on a bus in Cambridge, where John Curran attended Rindge Tech and Kitty was a student at Cambridge Latin. They married in 1960. Curran had a successful career as a food broker, working with larger supermarkets and food suppliers.
Curran’s role as a leader of Boston’s Irish community extended over half a century. He was ubiquitous, serving as master of ceremonies for countless events, organizing fundraisers, volunteering at festivals, and helping to create local Irish groups such as the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton and the Boston branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann.
“John was a great force in the Irish community, always willing to help anyone,” said his good friend Larry Reynolds.
Curran and Reynolds, along with Billy Caples and Pat Berry, formed the Boston chapter of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann in 1975. The branch was innovative, initiating a Comhaltas hour on WNTN that ran for 25 years, hosting regular sessions and set dancing classes, and forming a flourishing music school. With over 500 members, Boston has one of the largest Comhaltas branches in the world today.
Curran was well known as the golden voice of the “A Sound of Erin” radio program, formed by Henry Varian and Bernie McCarthy at WUNR in 1973. Curran started out reading the news and selling advertising, and later kept the program going on WNTN until 2008, by which time the show was streaming online.
Curran helped form the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton in 1989, serving in the early years as the public relations spokesman for the group. More recently he organized the annual Reagle Players production of “A Bit of Ireland,” performed every St. Patrick’s Day season in Waltham.
Curran was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 14, Watertown. In 2006, Curran was inducted into the Comhaltas Hall of Fame for his contribution to Irish traditional music. He was national public relations director of the North America Province of Comhaltas, and played an active role in the Boston branch throughout his life.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, 101A First Ave, Waltham, MA, 02454, or the American Heart Association, 20 Speen Street, Framingham, MA, 01701.