NYS AOH Fall Board Meeting

The Fall meeting of New York State Board of the AOH will be held the weekend of 11/1/19-11/3/19. The Hotel location is the Hilton Garden Inn:

Hilton Garden Inn
125 South Broadway 
Saratoga Springs, NY
Phone: (518) 587-1500

Reservations MUST be made by SEPTEMBER 17,2019 to qualify for the $99.00 plus tax per night rate. For reservations call (518) 587-1500, Extension 0, Group code LAOH. The special rate applies for Friday, Saturday and Sunday November 1-3 if anyone is interested.

The NYS AOH Board Meeting will be held on 11/2/19 at 10 AM at the Parting Glass Pub, 40-42 Lake Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. A catered luncheon buffet will follow which includes: Traditional Irish Shepard’s Pie; Bangers and Mash; Corned beef & Swiss Stromboli; Irish Potato Leek Soup, Brown Bread & Butter; and Bread Pudding Topped with Jameson Whiskey Sauce. The lunch is on us, but there will be a cash bar. There will be drink specials, however. Notre Dame is on TV that afternoon as well. 

A Message from NYSAOH President Tom Lambert


The State Board will meet in Saratoga Springs the weekend of 11/1/19-11/3/19.

Reservations are at the Hilton Garden Inn , 125 South Broadway Saratoga Springs, N.Y. 12866. Reservations MUST be made by SEPTEMBER 17,2019 to qualify for the $99.00 plus tax per night rate. For reservations call (518) 587-1500, Extension 0, Group code LAOH. The special rate applies for Friday, Saturday and Sunday November 1-3 if anyone is interested.

The NYS AOH Board Meeting will be held on 11/2/19 at 10 AM at the Parting Glass Pub, 40-42 Lake Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. A catered luncheon buffet will follow which includes: Traditional Irish Shepard’s Pie; Bangers and Mash; Corned beef & Swiss Stromboli; Irish Potato Leek Soup, Brown Bread & Butter; and Bread Pudding Topped with Jameson Whiskey Sauce. The lunch is on us, but there will be a cash bar. There will be drink specials, however. Notre Dame is on TV that afternoon as well. The LAOH is also sponsoring a Bowling Tournament later on Saturday.

Hilton Garden Inn Saratoga Springs
125 S Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
(518) 587-1500 Ext 0 GRP CODE LAOH



Tom Lambert
NYS AOH President

Freedom For All Ireland Report – September 2019

               FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

September 2019

Martin Galvin
National AOH FFAI Chair

A chairde:

A-Boris Johnson suspends Parliament brings on Brexit crisis-In a move called a “constitutional outrage” by Speaker of the House John Bercow, and compared to Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentary purge by Irish Minister Michael D’Arcy, Boris Johnson will prorogue or suspend Parliament for 5 weeks until October 14th, hoping to bulldoze Brexit through, by the Halloween, October 31st deadline. His plan backfired as Brexit opponents, including  21 members of his own party, banded together with opposition parties to stop Johnson from crashing out of Europe and forcing a hard border across Ireland. The combined opposition inflicted a series of major defeats on the new prime minister. They passed  a law which mandates he must ask the European Union for another delay if he cannot get a new deal by October 19th. Johnson then  expelled or “removed the whip” from 21 members of his own party who voted against him. His Tory party will try to depose the Speaker,(who applies rules and procedures impartially in the British system). Boris’ own brother resigned from the cabinet. Johnson said he would rather “be dead in a ditch” than ask the EU for more time to negotiate. Labour Party member John McDonnell said opposition parties “do not believe that we can pin him down and I do not trust him an inch. I do not think anyone does.” Another leading Labour Party member, Baroness Chakrabarti  said “every tin pot dictator … has used the excuse of having the people on their side to break the law, to shut down Parliament and the rest of it.” There is a real fear that Johnson will flout the law and bring on a Constitutional crisis. He no longer has a Westminster majority even with 10



Unionist DUP MPs. He had hoped that by suspending Parliament , he could run out the clock on effective opposition or force a snap election in which he held the upper hand. Ireland will be collateral damage in this crisis because Brexit would make the six counties Europe’s land border with Britain, requiring customs, import and immigration checks. The EU was offered to allow the north to remain in the customs union, with customs, immigration controls etc beginning in the Irish sea, (meaning at entry points into England, Scotland or Wales).The Tory Party, needing DUP votes at Westminster, vetoed any “backstop” or safety net as the DUP demanded. The “backstop” would only take effect if a full trade agreement was not reached by the end of 2020.

BTrooper’s murder of Derry teen ruled unjustified after 47 year   fight- Seamus Bradley’s family finally heard a Coroner’s Court Judge rule that British troopers had no justification for shooting the unarmed Derry teen and watching him die without medical treatment. Judge Patrick Kinney rejected British Army cover stories that the nineteen year old had been firing a machine gun from a tree when shot on July 31,1972, sustaining additional injuries from a fall. He ruled that the unarmed youth was running away from members of the Royal Scots Regiment, when troopers got out of a tank like Saracen armored personnel carrier, then shot him four times. The judge ruled that Seamus Bradley had clearly been unarmed, posed no threat and was no danger to troopers, which would have justified opening fire. The family submitted medical and photographic evidence that Seamus Bradley had been tortured after his capture, which contributed to his death. While the judge would not make a finding of torture, he did rule that Seamus Bradley was not given medical treatment which would have saved his life. Kinney said the original inquest was flawed and inadequate. Nine months before Seamus Bradley’s murder, British Brigadier General Frank Kitson said “law should be used as another weapon in the government’s arsenal… little more than a  propaganda cover for disposal of unwanted members of the public.” Behind this propaganda cover, the crown legally rubber-stamped the ‘disposal’ of Seamus Bradley, Ballymurphy Massacre victims, Springhill-Westrock victims and so many others. Meanwhile they lauded British troops and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, for using “minimum force” only “within the rule of law” to “uphold law and order.”The coroner sent a copy of the file to the Crown Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration of criminal charges.

C-Loyalist flute band taunts Derry Bloody Sunday victims-The members of the Clyde Valley Flute Band, from Larne, wore a British Army Paratroop Regiment insignia with the letter “F” on their shirts to parade in Derry, where 14 Bloody Sunday victims were murdered by the Parachute Regiment. The letter “F” honored the trooper from the regiment charged with murdering two civil rights marchers and wounding two others.( His name has not been made public and he is referred to in Court documents only as “Soldier F.”) The emblem was sewn into uniform sleeves for the Apprentice Boys of Derry parade on August 10th,despite a pledge from parade organizers to local residents not to display any provocative symbols. The emblem was viewed as an insult to Derry, since there is no connection between the Paratroopers and the city except Bloody Sunday. Residents had met with the parade organizers before the parade and expressed concerns about the possibility of offensive displays of support for the trooper facing murder charges. Tony Doherty, the son of Bloody Sunday victim Patrick Doherty called the insignia “deliberately insulting and provocative”. Meanwhile several leading Democratic Unionist Party members including MP Gregory Campbell, and Stormont Assembly members Edwin Poots and Gary Middleton, posed for photographs under a banner bearing the Parachute Regiment insignia, in Derry before the parade. While that banner did not bear any specific reference to murder accused “Soldier F,” the meaning seems obvious.

D-Tyrone man faces trial for taking down UVF terror banner –

 Sixty-five year old Frank McGirr, will face a criminal trial, charged with taking down a banner paying tribute to notorious Glenanne gang member Wesley Somerville. Somerville was one of  the Dublin-Monahan bombers and Miami Showband murderers. Frank McGirr, whose brother Colm was murdered by the British Army’s SAS along with Brian Campbell in 1983,is being prosecuted for removing a banner honoring Somerville from a public lamppost in Moygashel, County Tyrone in June 2017. Somerville was a member of the British Army’s Ulster Defense Regiment, the illegal Ulster Volunteer Force and the infamous Glenanne Gang. He was part of the UVF gang which planted 4 bombs in Dublin and Monaghan, on May 17,1974, killing 33 people. Somerville was himself killed when the bomb he and Harris Boyle were attempting to put in a minibus being driven by the Miami Showband went off prematurely. Somerville with other UVF members wearing British Army UDR uniforms had set up a fake checkpoint outside Newry on the main road to Dublin. They stopped the minibus and ordered band members to stand at the side of the road. Somerville was attempting to place the bomb under the driver’s seat when it went off. The other UVF members opened fire on the 5 musicians killing 3 of them. The loyalist Moygashel Residents ‘Association said they wanted the banner because “Somerville was very much a part of the Protestant culture of Ulster.” 



Malachy McAllister’s fight against deportation is nearing another critical point. He is an example of Britain’s policy of making political points with Irish victims. Malachy has multiple grounds which should entitle him to legal permanent residence under American law. He is a prominent AOH member, key member of the National FFAI Committee, and respected member of the Irish-American community.  He was a political prisoner decades ago in a war that is long over, after being targeted by British agents within loyalist paramilitaries.  


We need AOH members, particularly those represented by Republican Senators or Congressmen to take action. Already a Call to Action, from our National President, was answered by state chairs in Texas and South Carolina, and gotten important support.


The AOH was able to accomplish this because AOH members in local districts contacted representatives and said Irish Americans in their constituency wanted them to take a stand and support Malachy. If we can get Congressional or Senate support especially in the Judiciary Committee we can move the bill forward and keep Malachy McAllister here!!!




Last November Carmel Quinn’s tour for the Ballymurphy Massacre victims was a heralded success for the Ballymurphy families, for the AOH and for getting crucial American support for legacy justice. Proceedings like the Bradley or Ballymurphy inquests are rewriting lies with truth and destroying British fairytale myths about their dirty war in Ireland. Alongside Brexit, Boris Johnson and the Tories are vowing to end what they call “unfair prosecutions” of British troopers for murdering the Irish, where the word unfair should read any. They want to stall or weaken any mechanisms which might give families justice. The AOH will try to combat Britain’s legacy cover-up by bringing back Mark Thompson, of Relatives for Justice, in mid-November. Our National VP Danny O’Connell, National Director Denny Parks and National FFAI Committee member Sean O’Dowd are setting up events in Chicago and Ohio. We are trying to bring Mark to Washington, Philadelphia, Albany and the Bronx with more locations being added and the schedule still being put together.


 Mark’s visit to Washington can be another step in building up a network of Congressmen, who are aware of key FFAI issues and the importance of Irish issues to voters in their district. Brothers living in Congressional districts across the country, are a key part of building that network. Ask your Congressman to meet Mark Thompson in Washington and get a briefing on Boris Johnson’s legacy cover-up!




We have just received the special premiums or gifts for $1000 donors to the Christmas Appeal. This year the premium is a mounted bodhran, specially made for AOH or LAOH donors by Tyrone ex-prisoners. Your FFAI contributions mean a great deal and these specially made premiums show how highly we are regarded !  



                 FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN


 Please read the monthly FFAI Bulletin in the AOH national email  blasts, or on  the New York State and National AOH web sites. We want to give you monthly updates on key events in the north with short analysis and explanation.



Historical Happenings for September 2019


by Mike McCormack, AOH Historian

Ireland’s history is filled with the names of noble souls who fought and died to break her chains of bondage. Some who suffered and died for that cause are less known than others.  They led no insurrection; they made no memorable speech from the dock; they held no position of power; but theirs was a martyr’s role nonetheless. They were the common Irish whose quiet sacrifice nurtured and preserved the dream of freedom.  On September 18th 1851, Ireland lost one of her most courageous and dedicated daughters whose name should be as well-known as that of Emmet, Pearse, and Tone.  Her name was Anne Devlin.

Born in 1778, she was a cousin of two United Irish rebel leaders, Arthur Devlin and Michael Dwyer; she was also a devoted Aide to the bold Robert Emmet, leader of the second rising of the United Irishmen in 1803.  Posing as his housekeeper, she helped him plan the rising and carried correspondence between him and other leaders associated with the failed rebellion.  She was a proud and dedicated woman and Ireland’s freedom was her only dream.  When the rising was crushed, Emmet went on the run into the Wicklow Mountains and Anne saw to his well-being as arrangements were being made to smuggle him to France.  The Brits were aware that Anne knew the hiding places of Emmet and other escaped leaders, so she was arrested and tortured to get her to reveal their locations.  She refused and was locked in solitary confinement in Kilmainham Jail.

For three years, Anne was subjected to torture, bribes and the brutal indecencies that only women prisoners can suffer at the hands of depraved jailers.  Yet she was never broken. She remained loyal to the cause and betrayed not one of the men her jailers sought to capture.  In their efforts to make her talk, members of her family were incarcerated with her, including her 12-year-old brother who contracted prison fever and died in a cell near her own.  Her body and her heart were broken yet still she refused to betray Ireland’s heroes.  When Prime Minister Pitt died in 1806, there was a change in the British Administration in Ireland and Anne Devlin was finally released.  By then, she appeared like a broken old woman at just 28 years of age!  She had contracted a debilitating case of Erysipelas, which left her limbs numb and feeble and which plagued her for the rest of her life.  She disappeared into the slums of Dublin’s Liberties and married a man named Campbell who died in 1845 on the cusp of the Great Hunger, leaving her with a son and an invalid daughter.  She managed a meager existence by taking in wash.

In the 1840s, Dr. Richard Madden, researching the history of the United Irishmen, was directed to a poor old washerwoman living in a miserable hovel in a stable-yard in the Dublin Liberties.  He learned of Anne’s sacrifice and became an admirer, occasionally helping her with donations.  Unfortunately, Dr. Madden worked on government assignment and was transferred to Cuba, spending many years away from Ireland.  Upon his return, in September, 1851, he went straight to the Liberties to see Anne where he learned the sad story of her final days and death just two days earlier.  According to his writings, a woman in whose room Anne Devlin had once lodged, told him, The poor creature, God rest her, it’s well for her, she’s dead.  There was a coffin got from the Society for her and she was buried yesterday.  To his inquiry of what she died from, the answer was, She was old and weak, indeed, but she died mostly of want . . . She was very badly off, not only for food, but for bedclothes.  Nearly all the rags she had to cover her went, at one time or another, to get a morsel of bread.

Dr. Madden was heartbroken and found her grave in the pauper’s section of Glasnevin cemetery.  It was an incredibly tragic end to a most noble lady.  He had her remains exhumed and re-buried in the patriot’s section of the cemetery known as the Circle, right near Daniel O’Connell, and erected a memorial over her.  He left this account in volume III of his monumental history of the United Irishmen: The extraordinary sufferings endured, and the courage and fidelity displayed, by this young woman have few parallels.  She was tortured, frightfully maltreated, her person goaded and pricked with bayonets, hung up by the neck, and was only spared to be exposed to temptations, to be subjected to new and worse horrors than any she had undergone, to suffer solitary confinement, to be daily tormented with threats of further privations, till her health broke down and her mind shattered, and after years of suffering in the same prison, when others of her family were confined without any communication with them, she was turned adrift on the world, without a house to return to, or friends or relations to succor or shelter her.  The day will come when the name of Anne Devlin, the poor neglected creature who, when I knew her, was dragging out a miserable existence, struggling with infirmity and poverty, will be spoken of with feelings of kindness not unmixed with admiration.


But thankfully, the times are changing. In 2003 on the bicentennial of the 1803 Rising, Anne was remembered on one of three commemorative Irish postage stamps and in February, 2004, the South Dublin County Council proudly unveiled a statue of Anne in the village of Rathfarnam, just a few yards from the house in Butterfield lane where she served Robert Emmet and Ireland.  The statue caused some controversy as some historians wanted a statue of Emmet, but saner heads prevailed,  This beautiful statue of Anne Devlin not only adds character to Rathfarnham village, it highlights the significance of its history.  Irish-Canadian poet, Paul Potts, dedicated an entire chapter in his book of essays, Invitation to a Sacrament to all who helped her  and he wrote that, it is true that she was a servant girl; it is equally true that she was one of the glories of the world.  Because of her a light shines out, from the slums around the Coombe and from the ploughs on a Wicklow hillside, to equal the brightness of any star.  This Wicklow peasant working girl beat the British Empire.  They had been beaten by the spirit of an unconquered Ireland, housed in the heart and mind of a simple Irish girl.  Anne Devlin is an inspiration to all who hold freedom dear.

Freedom For All Ireland Report – August 2019

               FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

Martin Galvin
National AOH FFAI Chair

A chairde:

A-Boris Johnson threatens Ireland and European Union with “no deal Brexit” unless new deal concessions –After becoming British Prime Minister without any general election, popular mandate or Westminster majority , Boris Johnson began by threatening a no deal Brexit disaster on October 31st, unless the EU renegotiates the Withdrawal Agreement to his liking. He is gambling that the EU will bow to threats and offer major concessions to stop Britain  from crashing out of Europe and forcing a hard border across Ireland. Johnson in his first Westminster speech as Prime Minister promised a “golden age”, ushered in by an October 31st withdrawal ” no ifs, no buts”. He said the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by the British government under Theresa May was something “no country that values its independence and indeed its self-respect could agree” and its terms for the Irish border, a “monstrosity” “unacceptable”, “anti-democratic.” Johnson boasted that his regime was “turbocharging” preparations for a no deal Brexit crash out, if Europe refused to abolish the backstop. He snubbed Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, by not phoning him for six days.(Customarily incoming British Prime Ministers make a courtesy call to the head of the Irish government within a day of taking office).Johnson then clashed with Varadkar, saying the backstop must be abolished. Varadkar replied that the emergency measure was made necessary by British decisions. Ireland’s Tanaiste or Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney described  Johnson’s strategy as “give me what I want or I will burn the house down for everybody.”  He said if Johnson wants to “tear up” the existing Withdrawal Agreement with the EU

 “we are in trouble” and charged the British Prime Minister with deliberately putting Britain on a “collision course” with Ireland and the European Union. Johnson said he would not meet with French and German leaders unless they agree in advance to “abolish the backstop”.

 The “backstop” was agreed by Britain and the EU as part of the 599 page Withdrawal Agreement to avoid a disastrous hard border across Ireland. Brexit would make the six counties Europe’s land border with Britain, requiring customs, import and immigration checks. The EU invited the north to remain in the customs union, with customs, immigration controls etc beginning in the Irish sea, (meaning at entry points into England, Scotland or Wales). Brexiteers within the Tory Party, backed the DUP, to veto a “backstop” or safety net that would only begin if a full trade agreement was not reached by the end of 2020.

Johnson took over for Theresa May after winning a contest within the Conservative Party. There was no general election and he needs 10 DUP votes for a majority in Westminster. Alliance Party head Naomi Long said “we need a statesman not a showman.” SDLP head Colum Eastwood said “Johnson coasted into Downing Street on a wave of Brexit bluff and bluster”. Michelle O’Neill said Sinn Fein would “engage Johnson on the fact that there is nothing good to come from Brexit”.

 BNew amnesty moves for British troopers meet Congressional challenge-In the closing days of the contest for Tory Party leadership, Boris Johnson vowed to end “unfair prosecutions” of British troopers for murders committed in the north between 1969-98 with a statute of limitations. (Read ‘unfair” as ‘any’  murder prosecutions of troopers). He quickly created a post of British Army veterans minister and named Johnny Mercer, the most vocal advocate of trooper amnesty at Westminster, to head it. The move would make a mockery of British claims that its troopers and constabulary were not “above the law” or did not act with impunity in the north. Only a handful of British troopers were ever imprisoned for murders like Ballymurphy or Bloody Sunday. There are growing British worries about prosecutions of former troopers, because proceedings like the Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest reveal how British troopers committed brutal murders which were white-washed by the crown. Six Members of Congress joined in a bipartisan letter to Deputy British Ambassador Michael Tatum, citing American concerns about state force amnesty in legacy killings and Britain’s failure to implement agreed legacy mechanisms. The bipartisan Congressional initiative, joined by Representatives Peter King, Eliot Engel, Chris Smith, Brian Fitzpatrick, Nita Lowey and Brendan Boyle. The initiative also follows a recent AOH sponsored tour by Mark Thompson of Relatives For Justice and Edge Hill University Professor Mark McGovern, author of Counterinsurgency and Collusion in Northern Ireland. The British government repeatedly claimed that it was opposed to amnesty for killings by British military, including in a formal letter by then Ambassador Kim Darroch to Members of Congress on May 18,2018.An amnesty in the form of statute of limitations was overwhelmingly opposed by those who responded to the British government Consultation on legacy, announced earlier this month. However this policy was summarily discarded by the new Tory leader. Legacy mechanisms were agreed and published by the British government as part of the Stormont House Agreement of 2014. These mechanisms, which include a Historical Investigations Unit into Troubles killings, have never been implemented. Many nationalists believe that the HIU would bring charges against crown forces for killings or collusion with loyalists in murders.

C-Julian Smith, named six county secretary  snubs Derry nationalists-Julian Smith replaced Karen Bradley as Britain’s six county secretary. He was met by Bloody Sunday and Irish language protestors as he arrived in Derry for his first day in the new post. Smith who had been applauded on the stage as a “friend of the party” at the Democratic Unionist Party conference 2017, had been a key figure in keeping the DUP MPs propping up Theresa May. He visited a number of unionist landmarks, including the Apprentice Boys of Derry Siege Museum, the Apprentice Boys Walker’s Monument and the city walls. He avoided nearby nationalist sites such as the Bogside, Museum of Free Derry or Free Derry corner. Smith then said he would speak with all political parties in the north and treat them equally. However he is viewed as the DUP’s choice for the post, carrying  out policies set by Boris Johnson who seems willing to sacrifice  Irish interest for Westminster political gains. Meanwhile talks to restore the devolved Stormont Assembly, which has not sat since January 2017 continue. There is no agreement on key issues       





 including an Irish Language Act, implementing legacy mechanisms, the Renewable Heat Initiative and social issues. Last year a DUP-Sinn Fein agreement fell apart on Valentine’s Day, when the DUP reneged on a compromise proposal allowing an Irish language Act along the lines of Scotland and Wales.

D-Bonfire threats by loyalists force City Council retreat –July is not only marked by triumphal Orange parades across the north but also by hundreds of huge July 11th night bonfires. Many of these bonfires are topped off with posters of nationalists, KAT signs( meaning kill all Catholics), or Irish symbols which are publicly burned to cheers and sectarian songs as part of the celebrations. This year the most sinister example was a bonfire built in the parking lot of a Belfast City Council owned leisure center at Avoniel. When local residents called for the bonfire materials to be removed from the city owned property, a crowd connected to the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force formed a barricade at the entrance to the parking lot. They made threats to staff and forced the facility to be closed. Belfast City Council made a formal complaint to the PSNI constabulary about “aggravated trespassing” and hired contractors to remove the bonfire materials. The names of the contractors were leaked to loyalists. Threatening graffiti naming the contractors was painted on the walls, with slogans like contractors “attack loyalism at your own risk!” Instead of enforcing the City’s right to remove the materials, constabulary  warned there was a risk of “serious violence” using firearms if council workers made any attempt to dismantle the bonfire. Belfast City Council then gave up efforts to remove the bonfire.





 This past week anyone reading the daily papers in the north, the nationalist IRISH NEWS or the unionist BELFAST TELEGRAPH or anyone reading the Irish American papers, the IRISH ECHO and IRISH VOICE, read about AOH supporting victims’ families in the north by getting a major Congressional letter on legacy justice to the British Ambassador. We got many phone calls and email messages from Ireland, thanking the AOH, and telling us that American Congressional initiatives have a major impact on the British and are a morale boost for those fighting for justice.


The AOH got word on Friday afternoon that Congressman Peter King agreed to take the lead. Over the weekend we were able to get five more co-signers, including important committee chairs.

The AOH was able to accomplish this because AOH members in local districts have contacted representatives and said Irish Americans in their constituency wanted them to take a stand and support us on the key issue of legacy justice.


We want to build up a network of Congressmen, who are aware of key FFAI issues and the importance of Irish issues to voters in their district. Brothers living in Congressional districts across the country, are a key part of building that network.  






 Please read the monthly FFAI Bulletin in the AOH national email  blasts, or on  the New York State and National AOH web sites. We want to give you monthly updates on key events in the north with short analysis and explanation.

Historical Happenings for August 2019


by Mike McCormack, AOH NY State Historian

By the mid-1800s, landlords held most of the fertile land in Ireland renting to native Irish tenants. The land was subdivided and rented in smaller plots to more tenants for larger profit.  The smaller plots forced the Irish to survive on a crop that could produce the most yield per acre – the potato.  It was a difficult life, but at least they weren’t starving, for potatoes are a remarkable source of vitamins and minerals.  Then late on August 20, 1845, a potato fungus was discovered at the Dublin Botanical Gardens.  The following day, August 21, is a date remembered in Irish history as the first day of An Gorta Mor (the Great Hunger) a tragedy that saw millions lost to emigration, disease, and starvation.  Within the week, reports came in from other eastern counties that the potato crop had turned black in the ground.  It was the only crop affected, since everything else grew in abundance, but the other crops belonged to the landlords who protected them from the hungry Irish until they were harvested and exported for profit.

Parliament did little to help, quoting the economic doctrine of Laissez Faire and saying that the country was to be left to the effect of natural forces.  Many suffered in ‘45 awaiting a better harvest in ‘46, but it didn’t come.  The potato crop in ‘46 was totally destroyed across Ireland.  People were forced to eat what little seed potato they had with the result that when 1847 came, they had nothing to plant.  Many, on the verge of starvation, fell victim to the diseases which attend hunger.  When the sick and starving Irish couldn’t pay their rent, they were evicted and their property confiscated.  Blight continued until 1849 and neither Parliament nor most landlords provided assistance.  Millions died of starvation and hunger-related disease on the roads, alongside prosperous farms.  A limited amount of aid was provided by charitable groups, but the tragedy was too vast to control. For two years, some soup kitchens were opened, but the cost of food was the conversion to the Church of Ireland.  It was a price too high for many and they turned their backs on the food, rather than turn their backs on their faith.

Parliament, denounced for not intervening in the tragedy, reacted by declaring the crisis over in 1849 since a few acres of potatoes had grown that year without blight.  After millions died and millions more had fled into exile, it was little good to those who had been evicted.  Although the blight slowly abated, the blight on the Irish continued.  Most historians estimate that the effects of the great hunger were not over for another 30 years as the lack of land or a living wage, food shortage and disease continued.  Emigrants sent money back to loved ones they were forced to leave behind and it helped them climb back to a stable life, but it would be a generation before many of the emigrants could establish themselves in the lands to which they fled.  In the end, most of the generation who suffered the Great Hunger, were gone before its effects were.

A benchmark event that marked that turn in history was the formation of the Mayo Land League in 1879. Founder Michael Davitt convinced MP Charles Stewart Parnell to join the land agitation and the Mayo Land League became the National Land League with Parnell as President and Davitt, as Secretary.  By the end of 1879 there was a formidable organization in place and a Land War began.to plan what became known as the Land War and it could be truly said that the Great Hunger was over for the Irish began to take back their land.

One of the most insensitive incidents to come out of the Great Hunger was the British government’s premature declaration of the end of the blight in 1849.  In conjunction with that declaration and in order to show that all was well, a massive publicity campaign was mounted, the highlight of which was a visit by Queen Victoria at harvest time.  As the Irish starved and died in the workhouses and on the roads, hundreds of thousands of Pounds were spent to beautify the roads on which she would travel.  Crowds of curious and angry onlookers were kept in check by British soldiers as reports were sent to the world that wherever she went, the Queen was cheered by her adoring subjects and headlines proclaimed that “THE FAMINE IS OVER AS THE QUEEN VISITS IRELAND.”  Ironically that report, although propaganda at the time, would eventually come true.

The truth of that statement lies in a most remarkable incident that occurred on the exact anniversary of the first day of the hunger, exactly 30 years after the blight had been declared over!  The date was August 21, 1879, and the place was the Church of St. John the Baptist in the Irish village of Knock in Co. Mayo.  On that evening, a small group witnessed an astonishing vision as three figures suddenly appeared beside an altar on which rested a cross and a lamb surrounded by adoring angels.  The witnesses knew that they were in the presence of St. Joseph, St. John and Mary, the mother of God.  Word spread, and shortly, others from the area arrived and saw it too.  No such heavenly visitation had ever before been reported in Ireland, and the people fell to their knees and prayed, oblivious of a soaking rain.  The figures remained, silent for nearly two hours, and then vanished as suddenly as they had appeared.  In 1939, after many years of intense investigation, the apparition at Knock was granted canonical sanction by the Church.  Of the hundreds of visions reported, it is one of only ten to have received such recognition, and it ranks with Lourdes and Fatima as a holy site of pilgrimage, yet it is the only appearance of the Virgin during which She remained silent.

Many have questioned why Mary said nothing, and only stood praying.  Praying for what, for whom?  Any student of Irish history should know the answer for there are clues in the date of the apparition.  Consider that the Great Hunger wasn’t really over for 30 years after 1849; Mary appeared in 1879 – exactly 30 years later!  And She appeared on August 21, the exact anniversary of the first day of the Great Hunger!  Is it possible that, since the Irish had suffered so much for their faith, that the Lord, in appreciation, sent His beloved mother and that She, as any mourner would, stood in silent prayer for the generation which had just passed away.  Think of it, the timing is incredible.  Not only is August 21 significant, but the year 1879 was truly the end of the great hunger for the Irish began taking their land back from the landlords through the Land League.  While the dates have an uncanny significance, there is yet another irony.  Since August 1879 marked both the historic end of the Great Hunger and the year in which Our Lady visited Knock, a 30-year old newspaper headline had at last come true: THE FAMINE WAS FINALLY OVER AND THE QUEEN HAD VISITED IRELAND – the only Queen that the Irish ever recognized!  The Catholic people of Ireland, who struggled so hard to keep their faith alive, had received a visit from heaven, and the Virgin had received a new title – Our Lady of Knock.

Historical Happenings for July 2019


by Mike McCormack, AOH NY State Historian

When celebrating this country’s independence, there is an almost forgotten hero who must be called to public attention.  He was born on 25 September 1740 in Coleraine, County Derry.  He came to New York City in 1746 where he became a major contributor to America’s Irish immigrant story. His name was Hercules Mulligan. He graduated King’s College and became a haberdasher, tailoring clothes for colonial aristocrats and British officers; he even married Elizabeth Sanders, a British admiral’s niece.  Yet, when a bankrupt Crown exploited its colonies with taxes he opposed them and in 1765 became a leader of the secret Sons of Liberty. He was a member of the Committee of Correspondence, a group that rallied opposition to the Crown through written media.  In August 1775, he and his militia captured four British cannons from the Battery; in 1776, he and the Sons of Liberty toppled a statue of King George III and melted the lead into bullets to return it to the Brits.

Earlier, in 1773, a penniless teen had arrived with a letter of introduction to Mulligan’s brother Hugh from a family he knew in St. Croix for whom the teen had clerked. Hercules took him into his home at 23 Queen St (now 218 Pearl Street) in lower Manhattan and sent him to King’s College. Mulligan’s anger over British oppression was contagious and his house-guest soon joined him in the Sons of Liberty and in 1775, even wrote a popular essay denouncing the British.  The boy’s name was Alexander Hamilton.

As violence intensified, Mulligan quietly endured the British occupation of New York since, while outfitting their officers, he engaged them in seemingly meaningless conversation and, asking the right questions, gained valuable insight into their plans. He would then put it in a note and sew it into the hem of a new shirt, pack it in a box and send his servant, Cato, off as if her were simply delivering an order. Cato was his equally patriotic African servant who served as a spy together with Mulligan. Acting the role of courier, he would pass through British lines by posing as a slave on an errand for his master; he was also known to the British sentries who frequented Mulligan’s shop.  As a result, Cato passed unchallenged and delivered the information to none other than Alexander Hamilton, who by now had become George Washington’s aide de camp.  On at least two occasions their information saved Washington from a planned ambush.

After a few years of freelancing as a spy, Mulligan was recruited into the Culper Spy Ring by Robert Townsend, a member of the ring and a successful merchant who traveled back and forth between the City and the Setauket, Long Island center of the spy ring. Mulligan often rode the 65 miles to Setauket to deliver information that couldn’t wait. In 1781, after Benedict Arnold betrayed West Point, he betrayed Mulligan by outing him as a spy. With no evidence to verify his accusation, the British who despised Arnold as a turncoat, weren’t about to give up their favorite Irish tailor and ignored the charge!  Mulligan continued collecting data.

When the Revolution was won, Mulligan, who outwardly appeared to be like all the other Loyalists, feared an act of patriotic revenge, but George Washington remembered his confidential informant. On November 26, 1783, Washington led an ‘Evacuation Day’ parade celebrating his return to New York. The next morning, the triumphant general stopped at 23 Queen Street and enjoyed breakfast with Mulligan announcing his savior as ‘a true friend of liberty.’ Washington then ordered a full civilian wardrobe.  Mulligan hung a sign outside his shop: Clothier to General Washington and his business boomed. After Washington’s Presidential inauguration in 1789, he went back to Mulligan’s Clothing Emporium where he hired him as the official Presidential Tailor.   Mulligan hung out a new sign and became wildly popular!

Mulligan eventually bought a large home off of the Bowery where he retired comfortably until 1825 when he died at eighty-five.  He is buried with his family in Trinity Churchyard at Broadway and Wall Street.  Time covered up the remnants of his life and since 1970 there is a 24-story building at 218 Pearl Street and it is not known what happened to Cato. However, on January 25, 1785, Mulligan and Hamilton became two of the founders of the New York Manumission Society to promote the abolition of slavery.

Finally, in 2016, Hercules Mulligan was given a page of his own on the U.S. CIA website and there is now talk of naming a small bridge in lower Manhattan as the Hercules Mulligan Bridge.  However, many may still not learn the truth because in 2015 a Broadway musical HAMILTON revised the history of this trio of conspirators. Sadly, they combined the characters of Mulligan and Cato into one; showing Mulligan as an African patriot thereby robbing Mulligan of his Irish heritage and the true African patriot, Cato, of his very existence.  How sad!  

Historical Happenings for June 2019


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  by Mike McCormack, AOH NY State Historian

Recent revelations of a few AOH members dismissing Irish history as unimportant and even Divisions without an active historian, leads us to reflect on who we really are. We are the Irish who chose to be members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), a choice that defines us. The AOH was created to defend a heritage born on a tiny island in the western ocean with the first pre-Celtic inhabitants whose engineering skill produced Newgrange, the oldest still standing man-made structure on the planet, and hundreds just like it – all astronomically aligned. It grew with those who mined and smelted tin with copper to create Bronze and produced artistic treasures so intricate they cannot be duplicated today. It was strengthened by Celtic warriors who discovered iron and were the first use it to rim their chariot wheels. And it was enhanced and formalized by the Christian gospel of St. Patrick and the many missionaries he inspired to make the tiny island renowned throughout the known world as the Isle of Saints and Scholars.
However, that valued heritage was despised by powerful forces that came across the sea from England. As strangers gradually took control of the land, they tried to erase that heritage. They forbid its practice by legislation like the Statutes of Kilkenny and Penal Laws, but the Irish secretly held on to what had been passed to them; for to deny their heritage would have been to deny their ancestors. When legislation failed, brute force was unleashed from Cromwell to William of Orange. Again they failed! And when the Irish fought the Crown to a stalemate and a treaty resulted, perfidious Albion broke trust as with the broken Treaty of Limerick and again assaulted the heritage so boldly defended. When the ancient heritage could not be erased, it became expedient to erase those who practiced it and that opportunity came with a fungus on the potato crop in 1845. The Irish had been forced to rely on that crop as a result of laws enacted by a landlord-dominated Westminster Parliament. There had been earlier failures, but an Irish Parliament eased its impact by thoughtful action. However, Britain eliminated that Irish Parliament 44 years earlier and this time the Irish were at the mercy of Westminster. Then followed the genocidal horror known as An Gorta Mor – the Great Hunger – when starving Irish tenants watched the abundant produce of their country taken under guard to the seaports to be exported for profit while their wives and children cried with hunger. The native Irish were then left with three choices: first, to accept the stranger’s ways and laws; second, to flee their beloved island; and third, to starve. A few did the first, millions did the second and millions more unwillingly did the third!
Through all the years of discord, societies had been formed to protect the values under attack. From the Whiteboys, who fought landlords in white shirts to identify each other on midnight raids, to the Ribbonmen, wore a special ribbon to show their similar goal – protection of a heritage and retribution to those who dared to destroy it. When the millions of Irish refugees who were forced to flee their homes landed in America, they were shocked to find the same bigotry awaiting them in the former British colony. It was manifested by nativists who awakened memories of former violence in riots against them and their church for no other reason than who they were! Repressive legislation similar to that which they faced in Ireland was proposed by nativists of the Native American Party in local and national governments.
Those immigrant Irish who had joined together in local benevolent fraternal societies, not surprisingly assumed the responsibility of protecting the values under attack and became the same type of secret societies that had protected them in Ireland. Then in 1836, the Ribbon Society in Ireland authorized branches of their society among former Ribbon emigrants in New York and Pennsylvania. By 1851, many more merged with the growing number of societies for the same protection of a centuries-old heritage. By that time nativists had replaced the British military as adversaries and employers had replaced landlords as antagonists. The societies morphed into a uniquely American national organization and thus was born, the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Over the years, violence diminished but the bigotry continues in derogatory T-shirts and greeting cards, twisted anglicized versions of Irish history taught in American schools and the disregard of Irish contributions to America and the world. The attacks on our heritage continue and we, as inheritors of the ancient traditions for which our forefathers fought and suffered, are its modern defenders. That is why the Ancient Order of Hibernians exists, that is the reason its members were invited to join and that is what defines us!


Freedom For All Ireland Report – July 2019

by Martin Galvin
National AOH FFAI Chair

A chairde:


A- Brexit chaos forces May resignation as Johnson-Hunt vie for PM-British Prime Minister Theresa May ,was forced to resign after a six month Brexit delay and humiliating Westminster votes. Her successor, narrowed down to either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt, is being chosen by paid up members of the Conservative Party, (approximately 160,000). The incoming leader of the Conservative Party hopes to have enough Westminster votes to continue May’s term as Prime Minister without facing a general election. Brexit is now scheduled to take place on October 31st,but the European Union and Ireland are unlikely to add more concessions to the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by May. The drive to complete Brexit by that date means a growing risk of a “no deal” requiring customs and border controls across Ireland.

 May announced her resignation in a tearful statement in which she said she had done “everything I can” to convince MPs to support the withdrawal deal negotiated with the European Union and it was now in the “best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort”. She became Prime Minister because David Cameron resigned after a referendum mandating Brexit. May’s took the post to preside over Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. She quickly called a general election in 2017, expecting an increased majority to strengthen her hand but lost seats to Jeremy Corbin and Labour. She became a minority party Prime Minister, depending on votes from the Democratic Unionist Party.

She negotiated a 599 page Withdrawal Agreement but her deal was rejected with May facing historic Westminster  defeats.   

The main objection to her Withdrawal Agreement,was the “backstop” to avoid a disastrous hard border across Ireland. No deal Brexit would make the six counties Europe’s land border with Britain, requiring customs, tariff and immigration checks. The EU invited the north to remain in the customs union, with customs, immigration controls etc beginning in the Irish sea, (meaning at entry points into England, Scotland or Wales). Brexiteers within Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tory Party, joined with the DUP, to veto a “backstop” or safety net that would only begin if a full trade agreement was not reached by the end of 2020.

 The front-runner is Boris Johnson, former Foreign Secretary and Mayor of London, viewed as a hard-line Brexiteer, who threatens to leave the EU on October 31st deal or no deal. Jeremy Hunt originally voted to Remain in Europe but will now implement Brexit. The winner will have about 100 days to solve the Irish problem.

 BBanners for Bloody Sunday murder-accused spread across north-Banners and flags supporting the single British Trooper charged with murders on Bloody Sunday are spreading across the north. The trooper, named only as “Soldier F” is scheduled to appear in court in Derry in August to be charged with the murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Patrick O’Donnell, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon and Michael Quinn. Banners have already been put up in Belfast, Ballymoney  Bangor, Carrickfergus, Coleraine , Portadown and Tandragee, proclaiming support for him. A banner on the Lisburn Road, one of the busiest in Belfast bears the slogan “our soldiers are heroes not criminals.”

 Victims groups have complained that the banners are a hate crime and should be taken down by the PSNI. Photographs have been posted showing members of the PSNI constabulary standing by and observing as banners are being put up. The PSNI issued a statement saying “it was not the responsibility  of the PSNI” and they “would only act to remove flags where there was a substantial risk to public safety.”Soldier F” is the only British trooper charged for any of the 13 killings and 15 wounded on Bloody Sunday, January 28, 1972.Other Bloody Sunday families were deeply hurt as it had been thought that up to 18 prosecutions would be announced.

C-Opportunity for Stormont talks deal fading-With the July-August Orange marching season beginning, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a joint statement of talks to restore Stormont, there was a “narrow window of opportunity to reach agreement in the immediate period ahead” but that it was essential to “intensify talks to this end.”

An intensified round-table session then lasted only 25 minutes. Afterwards Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney and British Secretary Karen Bradley did not comment. Bradley’s position was weakened by the resignation of Theresa May who appointed her. It is now speculated that the talks may be paused over the summer months as the same sticking points which led to the breakdown of a tentative agreement in February 2018, appear to remain. These issues include an Irish Language Act, firm legacy mechanisms, the Renewable Heat Initiative and social issues. Last year a DUP-Sinn Fein agreement fell apart on Valentine’s Day, when the DUP reneged on a compromise proposal allowing an Irish language Act along lines of similar measures in Scotland and Wales.

 Stormont collapsed in January 2017, after the late Martin McGuinness resigned over the refusal of First Minister Arlene Foster to stand aside during an inquiry into the Renewable Heat Initiative scandal. The RHI Inquiry concluded last December after 114 sessions, but the final report is still pending. This report may be highly critical of Arlene Foster and could reflect on her suitability to be First Minister. There disputes about legacy mechanisms and whether the British will fully implement the institutions agreed at Stormont House. Social issues could be resolved by abolishing petitions of concern which allow vetoes. 

D-Ballymurphy Commander says was not told about 11 killings- –As testimony in the Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest nears its conclusion, shocking revelations continue. British, Army Lt. Colonel Derek Wilford, who commanded the Paratroop Regiment’s first battalion, claimed no one told him about the killings of a Catholic priest ,a grandmother and nine others to him in 1972.The British commander said he would have treated the killings seriously “had it come my way”,but it was a “complete surprise”. Wilford also commanded Bloody Sunday five months later in Derry. He said in his written statement that his battalion had been interviewed after Bloody Sunday but nothing like that happened after Ballymurphy.

Another paratrooper testified that his unit had run a prize “sweepstake” with the money going to troopers who “got a kill.”

Terry Laverty, in a written statement described how the trooper who killed his brother John Laverty bragged about it.

The evidentiary portion of the inquest is nearing conclusion.  


 Mark McGovern, Professor of Sociology at Edge Hill University in England, studied dozens of collusion killings in Tyrone and South Derry, applying academic research standards. Helped by Mark Thompson and Relatives for Justice, Professor McGovern was able to combine documentation compiled by victims’ families, with court transcripts and British military studies to put together a shocking new look at British collusion in the context of British military strategy.

The importance of American support was underlined by a special appeal by Tyrone victims’ families to relatives and friends in America to attend the AOH sponsored launch.

The tour opened at the historic MacSwiney Club in Philadelphia,    because of connections to Carrickmore man Joe McGarrity, and to Liam Ryan, whose murder was one of those investigated in the book. The event began with presentations of a Congressional Proclamation from Congressman Brendan Boyle and a City Council presentation, congratulating the two men for opening a new chapter in the battle for legacy justice.

Mark Thompson, of Relatives for Justice outlined the facts of some of the cases investigated. He began with the example of Kathleen O’Hagan ,a pregnant woman killed in front of her children because her husband Paddy O’Hagan was a well known Republican. Mr. Thompson described the number of threats the family received, the remote area, timing and other circumstances which proved this and other horrific murders could not have been carried out without British direction. Ironically it was pointed out that Mrs. O’Hagan had family connections in America.

Mr. Thompson also pointed to Malachy McAllister, who helped organize the tour and who was targeted by the British for a loyalist assassination attempt by one of their agents. Malachy McAllister’s current fight against deportation was raised throughout the tour.

He said that American help from the AOH and other Irish American organizations was crucial if relatives of Britain’s victims were to have any chance for truth.

Professor Mark McGovern began by tracing the development of British military strategy in counterinsurgency back to 1896. He also cited the myths or “stories the British tell themselves to justify how they fight wars”. They say they use “minimum force” and “uphold law and order” while the actual strategy in colonial situations was to demoralize the population with murders and insure that those who carried out murder for the crown would never be caught.

Professor McGovern, then pointed to the evidence published in the da Silva Review, Stevens Inquiry, Ombudsman Investigations, and Court Transcripts etc. He spoke of his own research, family interviews and investigations in accordance with academic standards. He said “the evidence is now undeniable and it is just no longer credible to pretend Britain did not collude in these killings.”

Here as in other venues, people stood in line to buy autographed copies of the book, before the speakers took the floor. 

                  NEW YORK

 Professor McGovern and Mark Thompson traveled to New York City for an event at O’Lunneys Time Square, where they paraded in behind piper P. J. O’Hara.

A number of friends and relatives of the victims mentioned in the book attended. Liam Ryan’s sister Mary, and his friends Patrick Clarke and Gabriel Megahey, were called up to present a citation on behalf of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, while Eamonn O’Brien presented a citation on behalf of Westchester County Legislator David Tubiolo.

Many key AOH and veteran Irish activists were introduced, including a number of relatives of victim John Quinn.

In Washington DC, Professor McGovern and Mark Thompson launched the book at the prestigious National Press Club in an event attended by Irish Embassy and British Northern Ireland Office representatives, as well as Congressional aides and Irish American leaders. They met Congressman Peter King to start a series of key Congressional briefings on Wednesday June 5th, before giving a briefing at the Irish Embassy on the need for Irish government help in the battle for legacy truth. They held a launch in Virginia at Murphy’s Irish Pub in Old Town Alexandria. On Thursday, they appeared in Rutherford New Jersey in a special launch featuring Malachy McAllister and organized by AOH National Treasurer Sean Pender.

 Professor McGovern and Mark Thompson were at the Watertown AOH Hall, near Boston on Friday, the Newport Rhode Island AOH Hall, on Saturday, and on Sunday June 9th at the Gaelic American Club, in Fairfield, Connecticut.

They concluded a whirlwind tour with a launch at the Albany Irish American Heritage Museum before briefing Irish American legislators.

The response to the tour has been overwhelming, with hundreds of books purchased and forcing a reprint by the publisher.

 “This book is an important chapter in the battle for legacy truth ,as victims’ families in Tyrone, south Derry and indeed across the north lived it. Loyalists may have fired the shots but British crown forces directed murders and protected killers as part of overall British planning. This book and these speakers have had a tremendous response in AOH sponsored events and in meetings with Congress.

” It says a great deal that victims’ families thought American help and the AOH important enough to come to us as soon as the book was released, to ask our help. The AOH is proud to stand behind them in the fight for legacy truth”. 


Sadly we must note the recent deaths of three giants whose historic roles in Ireland should not be overlooked.

Ivan Cooper was a Protestant leader of the north’s civil rights movement, and SDLP founder who led the Bloody Sunday March in 1972 and served as an MP. (He had hoped to meet AOH members alongside Eamon McCann during the February FFAI tour, but could not do so because of ill health).

Billy McKee was a legendary IRA commander in Belfast and founding member of the Provisional IRA, wounded while defending St. Matthew’s Church in 1970,and later won a Hunger Strike for political status in 1972. He was a lifelong Republican.

Kevin McKenna, was the longest serving IRA Chief of Staff and held that key position from 1983’s difficult days through most of the Good Friday negotiations.


 Please check for the monthly FFAI Bulletin on the New York State and National AOH web sites. We want to give you monthly updates on key events in the north with short analysis and explanation.



A Message from NYSAOH President Victor Vogel


Jim Scott, a great Hibernian and Past President of J.F.K. Div. 1, Schenectady County was in a bad vehicle accident last evening. His injuries are extensive, but he is stable. He has a long road in front of him, however I’m told he is talking and being the “Jimmy” we all know …

Please join the State Board and myself in offering prayers for strength and a speedy recovery. 


Vic Vogel
NYS AOH President