South Boston’s Billy Higgins continues his efforts to support young people in Limerick, Ireland through the Southill Children’s fund which was formed in 1985. At that time, Higgins had gone to Southill, a section of Limerick and witnessed firsthand the problems kids were facing growing up in a housing project that much reminded Higgins of his own childhood grown-up in South Boston’s lower end.
He overcame his poverty-stricken youth to become a popular successful entrepreneur; first as the owner of the L street Exxon station and the latter as a real estate developer. Much of the credit for his rise to success he attributes to his Italian — American wife, whose parents were as instrumental role model for Billy as he change his ways as a young man, and headed on the right path to a life that eventually brought him to Limerick.
As a result of the first visit, to Southill Children’s Fund was established and hundreds of Irish kids from Southill were able to visit Boston where they stayed at homes throughout the city of Boston, particularly, South Boston, West Roxbury and Dorchester. Today, many of those kids are still friends with Billy and his return visits to Limerick is like a homecoming of sorts for him. In recent years, funds raised by the children”s fund have gone to purchasing computers and other important investments in the education of Southill youngsters at the Southill junior high school.
last years main fundraiser was the classic in Limerick, a cooperative venture between Billy’s support here in Boston and a group of supporters in Limerick. It was a big success, and State Senator Jack Hart of South Boston was able to come to Limerick with him and see firsthand the impact the Southill Children’s Fund has had on that community through years, and also to experience first-hand the respect and admiration the Limerick community has for him.
When he is not helping the Southill Children he is busy performing his duties as the unofficial Mayor of Stowe Vt, where he is an accomplish skier and ski instructor, He is also very good sailer, and in recent years invested much time and energy in assuring the continued operation of the Harry McDoungh Sailing Program at Castle Island. He Can often be found at his son’s insurance agency on L. Street where pictures of his grandchildren are strewn about the office. His daughter, Andrea was one of the world’s greatest female basketball players.
I remember well the kids who came to Boston from Limerick. They came as a group and performed as a group, with many concerts throughout the Boston area. Back then, music, song and dance was a critical element in the development of their full potential as young people growing up poor in Ireland.