Urban Legend? Irish Firefighters Claiming to be Black?

I’ve been telling an anecdote for years, about a pair of Irish-descended firefighting brothers in Boston, complete with red hair, inventing a black ancestor to get by the city’s Affirmative Action standards for promotion, and I just realized that despite all the details, I have no memory of the source for this story, and it kinda stinks of UL to me.

Anyone have more facts for me, one way or the other? I’ve been telling this story so long that it must date from no later than mid-1980s, probably earlier.

Here is Cecil’s explaination.

Here is an Irish hystorian’s take.
It has nothing to do with affirmitive action. The term Black Irish dates from the 9th century.
And not all Irish have red hair, a good portion have blackhair and blue eyes. My family’s version of the myth had to do with that. Black hair, not skin.

That’s interesting, but I’m not looking for the roots of the term “Black Irish.” I’m specifically looking for the roots of the anecdote i’ve been telling, wherein pure-blooded Irish brothers falsely claim black ancestry to get over the hurdle that the fire department’s affirmative-action promotion policy presents for them. As I say, this may not be factually based, but I’d like to know if it is.

I think the story you’re after is that of Philip and Paul Malone, allegedly mentioned in a 1999 Boston Globe news article:

I can’t find original news articles on the Malone flap, but a 1998 article on affirmative action policies summarizes it as follows: