Historical Happenings for March 2019

Irish-American Heritage Month

by Mike McCormack, AOH NY State Historian

On 28 February, a team of Suffolk County Hibernians appeared before the Suffolk County Legislature to request that the month of March be declared Irish-American Heritage Month in perpetuity.  As one of the speakers, I was asked to share the words I said with other members of the New York State AOH/LAOH.  The Bill by Legislator Steven J. Flotteron, listed a dozen famous Irish and Irish Americans as evidence of our contributions to America.  The towns I mention are, of course, towns in Suffolk County and I was only allowed three minutes to make my presentation.  As most of my brothers know, I can’t even do opening remarks in three minutes.  However, when it was my turn to address the assembly, I said:

“The bill before you lists only a few of the Irish and Irish-American contributors, if we were to list them all, it would take all day to read their names and all year to describe their deeds.  Suffice to say that at our beginning there were nine Irish who signed the Declaration of Independence and three of them were Irish-born, as was Secretary Charles Thompson who edited it, John Dunlop who printed it and Col Nixon who first read it to a waiting public.

As for contributions to our State, that started with the first Governor of the Province, Irish-born Thomas Dongan whose patents became the model for today’s New York State government and established many Towns including Southampton and Brookhaven. In fact his Charter is on display in the Brookhaven Town Hall on Independence Hill to this day.

As for our County, it was in the shipyards of Mattituck that Irish-born John Holland built the first successful underwater boat which he demonstrated in the waters off New Suffolk to the U.S. Navy who bought it as the first boat in the greatest Submarine Fleet in the world.

From the large number of Irish in Washington’s Army that caused Lord Mountjoy to tell the House of Commons: ”We have lost America through the Irish”, all the way up to Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Michael Murphy of Patchogue, the Irish and their descendants have defended this nation.  In March, 1863, the first Medal of Honor was awarded to Irish-born Bernard Irwin, since then 254 have been received by native-born Irishmen more than twice the number given to any other foreign-born nationality and that’s not counting the number received by Irish-Americans like Audie Murphy and Dan Daly of Glen Cove who received two of them.

The Irish also served in counter intelligence. The Roe brothers were great-grandsons of John Roe the Irish-born shoemaker who settled in Drowned Meadow as Port Jeff was known in 1667.  They were part of the Culper Spy Ring that operated out of Suffolk linked with Irish-born Hercules Mulligan in NY City whose intelligence saved Washington on at least two occasions.  From the Roe brothers to Wild Bill Donovan who developed the Office of Strategic Services in World War II, which became the CIA of which he is considered the founding father, the Irish were there.

Many of these facts are unknown and designating March as Irish-American Heritage Month would give us the opportunity to publicize them and many more.  Each year, the President declares March: Irish Heritage Month. But before March first, when we try to convince the media to share these facts with the public, they say they can’t allocate resources to something that’s not officially designated.  Then when the President designates it as such, as he does every March 1st, we’re told its too late because such promotions must be scheduled a month in advance. Asian-American History month, Hispanic Heritage month, Black History month and others are permanently designated and recognized; we would like to see Irish-American Heritage Month permanently designated as well, so that we may invite others to recognize these contributions in time to prepare a respectful celebration.

Thank you for the gift of your time.”

State Board Spring Meeting Announced

The NY State Board Spring Meeting will take place in East Durham on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at the Shamrock House beginning at 10:00 AM.

Officers are asked to bring 75 copies of their reports.

Location:
Shamrock House
Rte. 145
East Durham, NY 12423

 

Contact Info for Shamrock House in East Durham
518-634-2897

Additional information on weekend events and on the Procession and Mass on Sunday, May 5, 2019 to follow.

Annual James F. Hayes Golf Classic

On behalf of myself and the James F. Hayes Golf Committee, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all AOH and LAOH counties, divisions, and individuals who supported the James F. Hayes Golf Classic and the Austin V. Carew Scholarship in the past.  We depend on all of you to make this event a success.   We have moved the Tee off time from 9 am to 11 am.  This will make it easier for people to commute the morning of the event if they wish to do so.  If you cannot make the outing, a donation of any amount would certainly be appreciated. 

The James F. Hayes Annual Golf Outing will take place this year at The Sunny Hill Resort and Golf Course.  The date of the event is Friday May 3, 2019.  This event is run in conjunction with the semi-annual board meetings which are held on Saturday May 4, 2019.

Hole sponsors are $100 each.  Your personal sign will be prominently displayed on the course and at the awards dinner.  The sign is yours to take home afterwards.   

Please see flyer and registration form for all the information including hotel reservations for AOH group.  The rates are very reasonable and a fun weekend is guaranteed.

If you need any additional information or any questions, feel free to email me at: mikenyaohsports@gmail.com or call 516-782-4762.

In Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity,                                                      

Mike Byrne
NYS Sports Chairman

Major Degree Planned for Schenectady

The John F. Kennedy, Division 1 Schenectady Major Degree Team will confer The Major Degree of our Order on Sunday, May 19, 2019 at the Schenectady AOH Division 1 Hall located at 1748 State Street, Schenectady, NY 12304.  Candidates should report at 12:00 pm. Ceremony begins at 1:00 pm. The dress code will be “Jacket & Tie”.

Candidates should contact their Division Presidents to reserve a spot in their journey to the inner chamber of True Hibernianism. Division Presidents are asked to submit a list of participating candidates to aoh.schenectady.degree.team@gmail.com.

For additional information, contact aoh.schenectady.degree.team@gmail.com or call the Schenectady Hall at: 518-374-9003.

AOH/LAOH Delegation Meets with Border Communities Against Brexit

A delegation of forty AOH and LAOH members met with the group known as Border Communities Against Brexit in Newry, the city referred to as the “Gateway to the North” on the border of County Armagh and County Down. The encounter followed a discussion at Dromintee Gaelic Athletic Club, as part of the first stop on the delegation’s Freedom For All Ireland Tour of Ireland.

A panel including National President, Judge James McKay, National Freedom for All Ireland (FFAI) Martin Galvin, and Border Cross-Community leaders Damien McGenity, Declan Fearon, and John Sheridan discussed the impact Brexit will cause to All Ireland economics and the peace process. The Border Committee Against Brexit members thanked the Hibernians for their continued commitment to fighting against Brexit and for Irish peace with justice and unity. They also stated their appreciation to Irish Americans for encouraging their federal and state legislators to stand up for the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process. Charlie Casey, President of Newry AOH and a Newry legislator welcomed the group at their first stop.

The annual Freedom for All Ireland delegation which this year includes LAOH National President Carol Sheyer, AOH National Treasurer Sean Pender, LAOH National Secretary Marilyn Madigan, and AOH National Directors Dan Dennehy & Denny Parks is organized by National FFAI Martin Galvin. (Reposted from original post on AOH.com)

Photo credits: Charlie Casey, President of Newry AOH and Newry Town Councillor

Rockland Division 1 Officer Installation

Rockland County A.O.H. Division 1 – North Rockland held their annual Officer Installation Meeting on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 in the West Haverstraw Town Hall complex. On hand to conduct the installation was Kevin P. Moore, NYS AOH District 8 Director and Kevin R. Cummings, NYS AOH Organizer and NYS AOH Co-Webmaster.  Assisting as a Marshal in the event was Brian Moore, member of Division 1 and brother of Kevin Moore. Brother Brian Moore is the Chief of Police in nearby Stoney Point.

Rockland County A.O.H. Division 1 North Rockland is led by Division President Daniel Donohue who will be representing the Rockland AOH/LAOH as the 2019 Aide to the Grand Marshal in the NY City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The division counts among its ranks, longtime AOH members; Cy Hughes, Jim Normoyle and Jim Clark, who along with their Brother Hibernians are very active in the county AOH. The division conducts many charitable fundraisers and scholarships to benefit the local community. In addition, the division is very active at the Montrose Nursing Home where they conduct an Irish Cultural Day much to the delight of the many residents at the facility. 

Greene County Mass Rock Division Officers Installed

Newly installed officers of Mass Rock Division 1, Greene County

The Inn at Leeds in Greene County was the site of the public installation for the officers of the Greene County Division 1, Mass Rock Division.  The event, which took place on Saturday, February 2, 2019, was followed by an celebratory installation luncheon.

In attendance to officiate and represent the NY State Board were District 1 Director Owen Cole, AOH National Director and NYAOH State Political Education Chair Liam McNabb, NYAOH Past President Peter Durkee, and Kevin Cummings, NYAOH Organizer.  Witnessing the installation and attending the luncheon were NY LAOH Vice President Mary Beth Durkee along with many family members and friends.

State and Division Officers in attendance at the Greene County Mass Rock Division 1 officer installation

Greene County Division 1 members are the caretakers of the Mass Rock located at the Irish Cultural Center in East Durham.  Greene County Mass Rock Division is also recognized as the traditional host division for the spring biannual board meeting which will be held this year on May 4-5.

 

Historical Happenings for February 2019

John Philip Holland

by Mike McCormack, AOH NY State Historian

Did you know that an Irishman invented the first successful submarine?  His name was John Philip Holland and he was born on the eve of the Great Hunger on 24 February 1841 in Liscannor, Co. Clare.  He lived through An Gorta Mor and suffered poor eyesight as a result.  His father was a member of the Coast Guards and young John inherited a love of the sea, but his poor eyesight prevented him from following in his father’s footsteps.  However, he developed an interest in ship design and attended a Christian Brothers School where he came under the influence of Brother Dominic Burke, a science teacher, who encouraged that interest.  By the end of the 1850’s, John had drawn his first plans for a submersible boat.  When he left school, he joined the Christian Brothers as a teacher and studied the unsuccessful attempts of Bourne, Bushnell and Fulton at underwater sailing.  In 1862, he read an account of the first combat between armored ships: the historic confrontation of the Monitor and Virginia in America’s Civil War and noted English concern since their country’s strength lay in their wooden ship Navy which was now vulnerable.

Then, the Union ship Housatonic was sunk by the Confederate underwater craft Hunley.  Though it too was a failure and sunk with its entire crew, it verified the importance of Holland’s ideas. Unable to promote interest in Ireland, he left the Christian Brothers and emigrated to America in 1872.  He found a job teaching at St. John’s School in Paterson, New Jersey.  In 1875, he offered his plan for a submersible boat to the U.S. Navy, but it was rejected as a “fantastic scheme.”  He was sure if he could raise the money for a prototype vessel, he could convince the sceptics, but money was hard to find.  In 1876, as his brother and other patriotic young Irishmen had done before him, Holland joined the Fenian Brotherhood dedicated to freeing Ireland from British rule.

Here he found interest in his plans for a weapon that could sink the British Navy.  Delighted with the prospect of striking a blow for Ireland, the Fenians financed Holland’s project.  He constructed a prototype vessel and in 1878, a 14-foot, one-man, Holland I slipped beneath the waves of the Passaic river.  Impressed, the Fenians provided $23,000. for a full-sized version.  Earlier attempts had focused on delivering a mine on a boom projecting from the bow of the boat which operated only inches below the surface.  In 1881, Holland completed a completely submersible 31-foot, 3-man boat of 20-tons displacement complete with a torpedo tube and fittings for armaments.  Spectators stared as the sub went through its trials, and newsmen dubbed it ‘the Fenian Ram’ in recognition of its origin and purpose.  Holland continued to test and refine his design.  In 1882, an impatient Fenian leader, John Breslin, stole the Ram and took it to New Haven to be launched; unfortunately, with no knowledge of its operation, it sank and the Fenians abandoned the project.

Holland kept trying the U.S. Government and to maintain secrecy, moved construction to a shipyard at Mattituck, Long Island. In 1895, he finally won a $150,000. U.S. Navy contract to build them a submarine, but the Navy insisted on alterations which Holland said would make it unstable.  But the Navy said no alteration, no contract!  So, while building a sub to their specifications, the headstrong Holland also built the 53-foot, 63-ton, Holland VI to his own specifications.  After the Navy designed boat predictably failed, Holland floated out his alternative vessel.  The trials took place at New Suffolk on Long Island and were a total success.  In 1900, Holland VI became the U.S.S. Holland – the first American submarine, and the Holland Torpedo Boat Company received an order for six more, but Holland was too deep in debt to fulfill the contract.

Financier Isaac Rice and others backed Holland forming the Electric Boat Company in Grotan, Connecticut, later a division of General Dynamics.  The brainchild of the tenacious Irish immigrant became the prototype for the greatest submarine fleet in the world.  However Rice took charge and not only dealt with the U.S. government, but the British government as well, selling them the original patents much to the chagrin of their inventor and the Fenian brotherhood.  Holland spent years in costly litigation trying to reclaim his patents.  On August 12, 1914, he died in Newark, N.J. as the Germans and British were readying their respective Navies for war and the eyes of both fleets were submarines, built with Holland’s principles.  John Holland was soon forgotten.  For 61 years, he lay in an unmarked grave until public attention was focused on the historic oversight and in 1975 a memorial headstone was erected.  Years later, another was erected in its place, and the original stone was transferred to his home town of Liscannor, Co. Clare and dedicated there by the U.S. Navy Submarine Veterans.

As for Holland’s first sub, the Fenian Ram, it would have made Holland proud for it did strike a blow against the Crown; it was salvaged in 1916, and used in a fund-raising campaign for Ireland’s Easter Rising.  After that it was mounted on a pedestal in Paterson Park. Then after the Beatles 1966 record YELLOW SUBMARINE debuted, the Ram was painted Yellow by local teens.  The Paterson Museum put it in a shed behind their museum to protect it from vandals.  In 1988, the AOH National Historian learned of its location and asked the museum its intentions.  The museum responded that they had a plan, but a lack of funds kept them from creating a proper display.  The AOH National Historian’s office sponsored a nationwide fund-raiser and in 1990, presented the museum with a check for $12,000.00.  Today the Fenian Ram can be seen as the centerpiece of an elaborate exhibit to John P. Holland in a special section of the Paterson Museum.

Finally, a long overdue ceremony took place on April 8, 2000, when a monument was also dedicated to the memory of Holland’s accomplishment, at what is now recognized as the first U.S. Submarine Base in New Suffolk, Long Island.  Funding was organized by the U.S. Navy Submarine Veterans.

Ireland’s Declaration of Independence Ceremonies Held in Albany

This week, New York legislators introduced a state resolution honoring Ireland’s Declaration of Independence. The measure sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Cusick and Senator Phillip Boyle, called for January 21, 2019 to be proclaimed as “Irish Declaration of Independence Day” across New York State. Ceremonies presenting the proclamations were held on Monday, January 28, 2019 on the Assembly and Senate floors. Members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Ladies AOH led by State Presidents Victor Vogel and Jacqueline Clute, assembled from around New York State and were in attendance for the ceremonies and presentation of the proclamations.  A celebration followed in the Albany Division 5 Hall.  View the January 28th event photo album.

Read more about NY State’s tribute to the Ireland.

 

Freedom For All Ireland Report – Important Notice for January 28, 2019

by Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair

As State President put out in an email blast last week,New York State is now considering a Resolution to make January 21st IRISH DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE DAY in New York. It looks good but there is still time to call your local State Senator and Assemblyman and ask them to join the Resolution going out from Assemblyman Cusick’s office.We want to show there is overwhelming support to give the Irish the recognition other groups get. 

If it passes the AOH and LAOH will be going to Albany on Monday January 28th for formal ceremonies on the Assembly and Senate floor where the AOH will be honored before proceeding to the Albany AOH Hall for a celebration.
 
I have linked both an explanatory release and the Resolution. Many Irish Americans do not even know there was an Irish Declaration of Independence and events like this one.
 
Last year many AOH and LAOH members attended the ceremonies where the AOH, LAOH and State Presidents were acknowledged and applauded on the Assembly and Senate floors.Because of our number of people who attended it was much easier to get this done this year.
 
You can also try to get resolutions passed in cities and municipalities in New York or states outside of New York-they do not have to be tied to January 21st.
 
Slan
Martin Galvin