Freedom For All Ireland Report – November 2017

by Martin Galvin

A chairde:

              FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

A – DUP Conference on Restoring Stormont Assembly – Democratic Unionist Party head Arlene Foster, at her party’s annual conference, showed why Stormont collapsed. She called nationalist demands for legacy truth and an Irish language law “intransigent behavior” which must be given up to resurrect Stormont. She denounced a tribute to late Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, during the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis as “glorying in the murder of the IRA.” Foster demanded that nationalists accept British culture, the British flag, English royal family, British troops, British symbols and begin referring to the six counties as the separate country of ‘Northern Ireland’. She would only support the Irish language in a larger bill that puts Irish  down to the level of other cultures. Clearly after years of power-sharing Foster’s idea of a “balanced deal” is one in which nationalists give up their beliefs about British rule and freedom for all Ireland, and submit to hers. Meanwhile British colonial secretary James Brokenshire set the new budget for the north and Arlene Foster called for greater direct control of the north by British ministers.

B – Sinn Fein Ard Fheis – Gerry Adams announced that he would be standing down as party president after 34 years. The new leader will be chosen in a Special Ard Fheis expected by February of next year. It seems almost certain to be Mary Lou McDonald. The party also decided to try to get into coalition as a junior partner with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fail after the next 26 County election. This was a major change from the party’s prior policy of only entering a coalition where it would lead.

C – Pardon Moves for British Forces – Moves continued toward a ten year statute of limitations designed to mean no prosecutions of British forces for “Troubles” murders. In April, a Westminster parliamentary Defense Committee recommended such a measure to apply to British troops, the Ulster Defense Regiment and Royal Ulster Constabulary. In November, Tory MP Richard Benyon introduced a bill which would prevent court proceedings against British armed forces for any “offenses committed during military operations or similar circumstances; and for connected purposes.” These broad terms raise questions about whether it would include collusion and cover-up crimes. The bill was supported by DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly whose father Noel Little, was a member of Ulster Resistance which helped to bring in South African arms for loyalist paramilitaries. The British are now floating a ‘consultation document’ to get people used to the idea. Justice campaigners contend such a measure would violate European Law and the Good Friday deal. Meanwhile, a Coroner’s Court ruling that the British Army killing of 11 year old Francis Rowntree in 1972 was not justified, points to grounds for prosecution of Fracis’ killer.

D – Loughinisland Film and Court Revelations on Collusion – The film premiere of “NO STONE UNTURNED” and Belfast High Court cases have revealed more proof that British forces armed, paid, targeted, covered-up or were otherwise complicit in sectarian murders carried out by loyalist agents. Six Loughinisland victims were murdered for watching Ireland play Italy in a World Cup soccer match in 1994. The movie names and shows recent film of the murderers, then reveals that in addition to the overwhelming evidence available from the recovered car, weapons, and clothing, the wife of one of the gunmen had telephoned and written confessing her involvement and naming the gunmen. Despite everything, no one was ever charged. Meanwhile a Belfast High Court judge who had already ruled that the PSNI Constabulary had violated the rights of families of the Glenanne Gang by blocking any effective investigation into their murders,  issued a new order to force the constabulary to do and publish a full investigation. The Glenanne Gang, which included members of the RUC and UDR is tied to more than 120 sectarian murders including 33 in the Dublin – Monaghan bombings. The judge was forced to issue the extraordinary order because the PSNI ignored his earlier judgment.        

(Read Mark Thompson’s Biography)

Over the past quarter-century Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice, among many human rights campaigners, has fought for truth and justice for the victims killed by British crown forces and their loyalist criminal agents. In inquests, court battles, Ombudsman Investigations and international scrutiny, they have proven many victims innocent. This also points to the fact that their killers were guilty. The British are making clear moves towards a 10 year cut off that will cut off any chance for truth for more than a thousand families. AOH and American help is crucial. Mark will be speaking at five New York AOH FFAI events in January, arriving on January 9th,returning to Belfast January 15th.We want to fill his afternoons with press and political briefings!

  • Wednesday, January 10th-Suffolk County AOH Division 2 Hall, 27 Locust Avenue ,Babylon-8pm-Suffolk and Nassau Counties
  • Thursday, January 11th-Wolfe Tone Pub 37 East 29th Street, 6pm-9pm Manhattan-co-sponsored by New York, Queens, Brooklyn and Bronx
  • Friday, January 12th-Rockland-Hibernian House 28 Railroad Avenue, Pearl River-7pm
  • Saturday, January 13th-Albany-AOH HALL 375 Ontario Avenue, Albany – 7pm- honoring Ciaran Geraghty Past NYS AOH  FFAI Chair
  • Sunday January 14th-Peekskill-venue to be arranged

Mark is a great speaker who has given truth, hope and a small measure of justice to many families whose loved ones were murdered by the British directly or by their loyalist agents. Hear him explain why American and AOH pressure on the British is urgently needed!

Please contact me at MGALVINESQ@AOL.COM.

Martin Galvin,

Sullivan County Division 1 Donation

At their December monthly meeting, members of Sullivan County Division 1 made a donation to Sullivan West Project Care. The $400 donation will be used for toys for tots within the Sullivan West school district.  More importantly, some of the money will be used to fund the purchase of bookbags, winter clothes, and to help a local family recovering from a devastating house fire. Pictured is President Bill Moloney, along with division members presenting the $400 check to Sullivan West teacher Tara Brey who also serves as chair of the Sullivan County West Project Care. 

Dutchess County Msgr. Sheahan Division Activities

The Dutchess County Msgr. Sheahan AOH Division 1 held their annual dinner dance on October 21, 2017.  According to division President Michael Shepheard (shown right with fiancé Cassandra Kaye), the dance held at the Elks Club in Wappingers Falls raised more than $5,000 and was a huge success. Profits from the event will be used to support local charities including Meals on Wheels, Birthright, and the Dutchess County St Patrick’s Parade to name a few.

Needy area neighbors didn’t have to wait long to benefit from some of the money raised…when on November 10, 2017, the membership of Msgr. Sheahan Division 1, along with family and friends prepared meals for approximately 150 less fortunate people at the Lunch Box in Poughkeepsie, NY.

The event was chaired by division Sentinel Jim Englishby (shown far right) who solicited donations from local supermarkets and businesses.  Additional food and supplies were provided by the division.

2018 March For Life – Washington, DC

Planning for the 2018 March For Life to be held in Washington, DC on Friday, January 19, 2018 is well underway.  The gathering will mark 45 years of Roe v. Wade in America – and sadly, the loss of nearly 60 million babies to abortion.

Last January’s March for Life  was a historic success including record participation, unprecedented media coverage and welcoming to the stage for the first time ever the Vice President of the United States of America! 

We need all New York Hibernians to be represented in Washington DC. We ask each Division to fund-raise, collect or donate something to send an AOH contingent to DC in 2018.

Please try whether through a joint effort of collecting funds to lease a bus for your group of Hibernians, or attending the march another way. A dedicated effort by our Members proves more enjoyable in the long run and attracts new people to help the Pro Life cause. Men, women and children all benefit from attending the March For Life. It is more imperative than ever to make our Pro Life voice heard in our culture. A culture of life is the empowered choice. The time is now to build on the momentum.

Will your District, County or any Division be organizing a bus to the March for Life? If so what are the plans so far? Please email your participation plans to Jack O’Brien, NY State Pro Life Chairman at

Albany Freedom for All Ireland (FFAI) Night

AOH Fr. Henry Tansey Division 5 will be holding their Freedom for All Ireland (FFAI) Night on Saturday, January 13, 2018.  The goal of this annual event is to spread awareness of the social injustices and abuses that take place every day in the north of Ireland. 

This year honoree will be Past New York State FFAI Chairman, Ciaran Geraghty who will receive the Fr. John Murphy Award. This prestigious award is an annual recognition presented to the individual(s) who have, and continue to advocate for public awareness related to social injustices in the north of Ireland. Brother Geraghty, through his work as New York State FFAI Chairman and his continued advocacy, exemplifies a dedication to the cause and to the AOH Motto of “Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity.” His work to end the plight of Irish-Catholics in the north of Ireland is well-known. 

The special guest speaker for the event is Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice (RFJ), a support group formed in the mid-1990s in Dungannon, County Tyrone.  RFJ was founded in April 1991 by bereaved families affected by the conflict in the north who came together to support each other. RFJ identifies and attempts to address the needs of those who have suffered loss and injury through one on one contact, self-help, group support, outreach, counselling, therapy, welfare and legal advocacy.

Mark Thompson is a founding member and CEO of RFJ who fulfills the group’s mission in providing a proactive and holistic approach to support families affected by conflict and human rights violations. His continuing work provides effective support for redressing human rights abuses and providing a wide range of services and support for those affected in Ireland. 

Please support this FFAI event. See the event flyer and journal ad form for more information or contact:

John Levendosky
FFAI Chairman
Albany AOH Fr. Henry Tansey Division 5

Historical Happenings for December 2017


by Mike McCormack, AOH Historian

St. Nicholas was a fourth century native of Patara which, at the time was Greek and is now on the south coast of Turkey. He was very generous and devoted his significant inheritance to works of charity B especially to orphaned children. He became a monk, an abbot, then an Archbishop. In December, 342, he went home to God and was later canonized by the Church. His unselfish life was so inspiring that in his memory people continued his generosity each year on the anniversary of his passing. Thus was kept alive his spirit of giving and the legend of Santa Claus (sant niclaus) was born. As long as his spirit of generosity lives on, so too does Santa Claus as his story spread across Europe and eventually the world. Centuries after his passing, the bones of St. Nicholas were re-interred in Bari, Italy where they are honored to this day. However that is not the end of the story.

Centuries after St. Nicholas passing, the Normans invaded and settled in Ireland. When Pope Urban II called for volunteers to join a crusade to free the Holy Land, Norman knights who had settled in Kilkenny were among those who answered the call, joining Normans from many other lands, including Italy. Upon their return to Ireland in the 1300’s, two of the Normans brought with them all or part of the earthly remains of St. Nicholas and had them re-interred in the Church of St Nicholas in the village of Newtown, according to stories in the 1997 issue of the Co. Kilkenny Review; the December, 2002 issue of the Cork Holly Bough; and website

Church of St Nicholas

Church of St Nicholas

The church of St. Nicholas fell to ruin by the 17th century. However, it is known that the Normans were keen collectors of religious relics supporting the story that Irish Normans could have bartered all or part of the relics for their own Church of St Nicholas. Further, Newtown was the home of Jerpoint Abbey, a launching point for Irish-Norman crusaders and the ruined church, just west of the Abbey, contains an unusual grave slab dating to the 1300’s. It is carved with an image of a Bishop and two heads. The Bishop is said to be St. Nicholas and the two heads are the two Crusaders who brought his remains to Ireland. We may never know the names of the Crusaders, but this famous poem by Bill Watkins commemorates the story:

Tomb of St. Nicholas

Tomb of St. Nicholas

Where lie the bones of Santa Claus?
To what holy spot each pilgrim draws?
Which crypt conceals his pious remains
safe from the wild wind, snows and rains?
It’s not in Rome his body lies
nor under Egypt’s azure skies;
not in Constantinople nor Madrid
his reliquary and bones are hid.
That saint protector of the child
whose relics pure lie undefiled;
his casket safe within it’s shrine
where shamrocks grow and rose entwine.
Devout wayfarer, cease your search
for in Kilkenny’s ancient church
Saint Nicholas’ sepulcher is found
enshrined in Ireland’s holy ground.
So traveler rest and pray a while
to the patron saint of orphaned child
whose bones were brought to Ireland’s shore
safe from the Vandal, Hun and Moor.
Here lie the bones of Santa Claus
secure beneath these marble floors.
So gentle pilgrim, hear the call
and may Saint Nicholas bless you all.

Fall AOH/LAOH Meetings Concluded

The Fall State Board  Semi-annual Meeting took place on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at the Hibernian House in Pearl River  — home of Rockland County Division 3.  The meeting was well attended with a standing room only crowd.

(View a photo album of the day’s event courtesy of John O’Connell)

Reports from the Executive Board Members and District Directors were delivered along with reports on Right to Life, Buy Irish, Website and Social Media, Publicity, Empire Hibernian Newsletter, Special Projects, Freedom for All Ireland, Charity and Missions, Veteran’s Affairs,  NYS Scholarship, Sports, Catholic Action, Historian and the Organizer’s report. NY National Directors Liam McNabb and Dan Dennehy also spoke about Political Education and Immigration.

AOH members in attendance from across the state heard state officer and committee chair reports on activities since the last board meeting. Reports on upcoming events included a fundraiser on November 12th for the Restoration of the Emmet Graves Project being carried out by the newly formed Westchester County Division 17. Additional upcoming events include the Peekskill Division 18’s Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Dance on Saturday, November 18, 2017 and the Bronx County AOH Annual Dinner Dance to be held on Sunday, November 19, 2017 at Rory Dolan’s where NYAOH President Vic Vogel will be among the honorees.

National officers like Tim McSweeney, Brendan Moore and John O’Connell and gave a short update on the recruiting initiatives of the new Marketing, Promotion and Advertising Committee.  Programs like the ‘Why I’m a Hibernian’ effort were explained. The many project help recruit new members and retain existing members. All NYS members are asked to participate by submitting a short paragraph or two explaining why they chose to become a Hibernian and to expand on the benefits of being a Hibernian. They intend to use the best responses in various social media campaigns, on the national and state websites, and in other media. They are also encouraging Hibernians to make brief, informal videos that will enable brothers to tell potential membership candidates “in person” why they are Hibernians and why other Irish-American Catholics should join, and how.

Bronx County AOH Annual Dinner Dance

You are cordially invited to the Bronx County AOH Annual Dinner Dance to be held on Sunday, November 19, 2017 at Rory Dolan’s, 890 McLean Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10704 from 3:00 – 7:00 pm.  This year’s event is dedicated to the Manchester Martyrs of 1867.

This year’s honorees are:

  • Vic Vogel, President, NYS Ancient Order of Hibernians
  • Gerard Fitzgerald, President, Uniformed Firefighters Association
  • Eileen Mannion Collum, Eileen’s Country Kitchen/The Heritage Bar & Restaurant
  • Bea Castiglia-Catullo, Founder, R.A.I.N. (Regional Aid for Interim Needs, Inc.)

Music by – The Kitty Kelly Band.  See the flyer below for more information.


Division #18 Peekskill Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Dance

A.O.H. Division 18 Peekskill cordially invites you to join their 2017 Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Dance on Saturday, November 18, 2017 from 7:00 PM to 12:00 midnight. The event will take place at The Mansion at Colonial Terrace, 119 Oregon Road, Cortlandt Manor, NY 10567.  For more information, see the flyer below.

A Benefit for the Restoration of the Emmet Graves

Please join us in a benefit this Veteran’s Day weekend for the restoration of the Emmet Family Graves on November 12, 2017, 7pm-10pm at The Heritage Bar & Restaurant, 960 Mclean Avenue, Yonkers, NY. 

The benefit fundraisier is being run in part by our new Thomas Addis Emmet Westchester County Division 17. For more information email the Division President James McLashin at

For more informations and directions to the event visit: