Staten Island Hibernians Meet

At the September 10th meeting of St. Columcille Division #4, Richmond County, President Thomas F. Gray was delighted to welcome Brother Martin Crimmins, New York District 5 Director, as well as Brother Gerald Mulvaney, Richmond County President, to our monthly meeting.

The Division’s Brothers bid a heart cead mile failte to these fraternal dignitaries, as the Division’s meeting was well attended by over 35 Brothers, and we were also honored to have in attendance Br. Michael Hannon, CFC, Assistant Chaplain and faculty member of Msgr. Farrell High School on Staten Island, who led the Division’s opening and closing prayers.

The Division received a lecture on Irish history about the Hibernian Rifles and Hibernian Knights, two paramilitary fraternities of the AOH in the 1880s up to the 1920s in America, and the little-known role of the courageous Hibernian Rifles (Irish American Alliance) in the Easter Rebellion of 1916 in Dublin from Brother Denis P. McGowan (pictured right). 

The Hibernian Rifles under Commandant John Joseph Scollan joined their comrades of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, supported by the brave women of Cumann na mBan  (Irish nationalist women’s organization) and Na Fianna Eireann (Irish nationalist boy scouts), in the heroic fight for Ireland’s freedom. Less than 1,000 poorly-armed Irish men, women and boys faced over 10,000 battle-hardened soldiers of the British Army, well-equipped with rifles, machine guns, artillery, improvised armored cars, and even the Royal Navy gunboat Helga that shelled Dublin’s Liberty Hall, as well as unlimited ammunition and reinforcements from England.  About 40 Hibernian Rifles served in defense of the Dublin General Post Office until its surrender.

The role of the Hibernian Rifles in the Easter Rebellion of 1916 is often overlooked and forgotten by historians, but we as Hibernians can look back with pride on those brave Brothers who stood shoulder to shoulder with heroes like Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, Cathal Brugha, The O’Rahilly, Thomas Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh, Sean MacDiarmada (himself a Brother Hibernian), and Countess Constance Markievicz.

St. Columcille Division # 4 meets every second Monday at the Staten Island Elks Lodge No. 841 at 8:00 pm. The Division was established on April 3, 1970 by Brother Philip McCusker and Brother William J. Bartnett, and currently has over 196 Brothers. Several Division # 4 Brothers also serve on the Richmond County Board as officers. 

The Division is very involved with the Staten Island Saint Patrick‚Äôs Day Parade, the Staten Ireland Irish Fair, the Columcille Irish Cultural Center, the Hibernian Ball, and the AOH CuChulainn Celtic Warrior Major Degree Team. It also sponsors an annual memorial Mass and communion breakfast, a golf outing to support our charities, and a Saint Patrick’s Day dinner dance.

News item provided by Brother Denis McGowan; photo by Brother Kevin F. Mannion