Early Life and Education
O'Neill was born to Thomas Phillip O'Neill, Sr., and Rose Ann (née Tolan) O'Neill in the Irish middle-class area of North Cambridge, Massachusetts known at the time as "Old Dublin." The third of three children, his mother died when he was nine months old, and he was largely raised by a French-Canadian housekeeper until his father remarried when he was eight. O'Neill Sr. started out as a bricklayer, but later won a seat on the Cambridge City Council and was appointed to Superintendent of Sewers. During his childhood, O'Neill received the nickname "Tip" after the baseball player James "Tip" O'Neill. He was educated in Roman Catholic schools, graduating from St. John's High School in 1931, where he was captain of the basketball team. From there he went to Boston College, from which he graduated in 1936. He lived on Orchard Street in Cambridge.
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