Historical Happenings for April 2020

THEY WENT TO SPAIN

by Mike McCormack AOH Historian

Napoleon’s failed invasion of Russia in 1812 was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars, leading to his abdication and restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. Russia then played a central role at the post-war Vienna Congress of 1814 as a leader of anti-revolutionary forces. This suited the Bourbon kings who once again ruled and allowed the formation of the French Communist Party (PCF). Then, in 1920, after the death of Lenin, his successor Josef Stalin established a new ideology for the Communist International. He called it Marxist-Leninism and redefined the theories of both Lenin and Marx to establish a new meaning to benefit establishing a global Communist world.  It reformed civil law, made marriage secular between social-and-legal equals, facilitated divorce, legalized abortion and voided the political power of the upper and middle class and  privately owned businesses. The Marxist–Leninist world view was totally atheist denying religion in the affairs of human society. The PCF as the French Section of the Communist International adopted the new ideology.  In 1921, they spread it to Spain where the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) was founded. The PCE was legalized by the Second Spanish Republic in April 1931 and  gained much support.  Soon the Republic began introducing the atheistic doctrines of the new Communist ideology. In May 1931, anti-clerical violence broke out all over Madrid and south-west Spain. The government’s slow response disillusioned the population and reinforced their view that the Republic was determined to persecute the Catholic church.  In December a new reformist, liberal democratic constitution was declared and included strong provisions to secularize the previously Catholic country by abolishing Catholic schools and charities; many committed Catholics strongly opposed.   Churches were closed down, unspeakable atrocities were committed against priests and nuns and sacred artifacts were destroyed or stolen.  Then in July 1936, a rebellion was led by General Francisco Franco which marked the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.

Due to  international politics at the time, some saw it as either a class struggle, a religious war, a struggle between dictatorship and  democracy or between fascism and anarchism. In reality it was the result a polarization of Spanish life and politics that had developed since the introduction of communism. On one side, the Nationalists were mostly Roman Catholics, ranking members of the military, middle-class landowners and businessmen. On the other side, the Republic was supported by urban workers, agricultural laborers and members of a newly educated lower class.

The war became notable for the passionate political division it inspired and for the many atrocities that occurred, on both sides. Organized purges occurred in Republican areas to eliminate suspected opposition and revenge killings took place in areas controlled by Franco’s Nationalists.  As the execution of thousands of priests and nuns took place, New York’s Archbishop Cardinal Hayes asked New Yorkers to cry for Spain.  The Church hailed Franco as a deliverer but never sanctioned violence in retribution for the atrocities against his followers.  While Stalin sent volunteers and weapons to the Republicans, many nations officially took a neutral stance.  That neutrality faced serious opposition from sympathizers in the U.S. and other European countries leading to International Brigades.  Thousands from all nations voluntarily went to Spain to aid in the fight on either side.

The new Irish Free State joined an International Committee for Non-Intervention and passed The Spanish Civil War (Non-Intervention) Act in 1937 making it a punishable offence to travel from Ireland to Spain for any who would volunteer to serve in Franco’s cause.  However, while the IRA sent 300 men to support the Republicans, former IRA General Eoin O’Duffy led 700 Irishmen to fight for Franco as a result of the violence being perpetrated against Catholics and clergy.  By the end of the war, more than 6,000 Irish had volunteered in the Christian cause creating unofficial Irish involvement in the Spanish Civil War on both sides.  County Councils passed resolutions of support for Franco and requiem Masses were said for the fallen showing the support of the Irish people for the cause of Spain’s persecuted Catholics though today’s Irish government will not recognize that. Of 500,000 deaths in the War, 200,000 were combat-related: 110,000 Republicans and 90,000 of Franco’s Nationalists, the rest were civilians, but the destruction of a world-famous library’s priceless manuscript collection is lamented by historians to this day.  Another Irish Free State legislation, the Merchant Shipping Act of 1937 restricting Irish shipping to Spain was finally repealed on 27 April 1939 after Franco’s forces defeated the Republicans.  Franco set up a military government under which the PCE was repressed with specific laws banning Communists.  General Franco ruled anti-communist Spain until his death in November 1975 and was always grateful to the Irish who followed O’Duffy and were proud to claim, “We went to Spain!” which had a special meaning in the 1940s; it wasn’t just for a holiday!  The Irish volunteers who were ready to fight Communism in Spain were convinced that the cause of Franco was the cause of their Church and rose to its defense; every Hibernian should be able to relate to that.

Freedom For All Ireland Report – April 2020

            FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

A chairde:

A-Search continues for new Irish government coalition after Sinn Fein surprise in February election-Nearly two months after an election producing a three way split between, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and Fine Gael, the leader and composition of the new Irish government are still unknown. Sinn Féin gained 14 seats, and now holds 37,with Fianna Fail at 38,and Fine Gael at 35 seats. At least 80 seats are needed for a government majority and no party is close..The Dáil (Irish parliament)met on February 20th but no one had the votes to form a new government. Outgoing  Taoiseach Leo Varadkar resigned, but will remain as a caretaker until his successor is chosen. Sinn Fein Party leader Mary Lou McDonald began contacting smaller parties, including the Greens, Labour, Solidarity People Before Profit and the Social Democrats, but their combined numbers would not be enough for a majority. During the campaign, Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin said he would not join with Sinn Féin, because of its links to the IRA. A Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein combination would need only a few votes from Independents or the smaller parties. As results came in, Mr Martin appeared to soften and open the door to partnership with Sinn Féin. However Fianna Fail has since firmly rejected this option. Fine Gael, now the third biggest party, also says it will not join a coalition with Sinn Féin. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are in negotiations about forming a new coalition, with support from independents or one of the smaller parties. However, nothing is set. The results of the February 8th election registered dissatisfaction with the Fine Gael led government on issues like housing, homelessness, hospital waiting lists, and pensions. A planned ceremony for the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin constabulary, sparked  memories of the infamous Black and Tans. The ceremony was cancelled but not before boycotts, protests and awakened patriotic feelings. Sinn Fein gained votes on all these issues and voters wanted someone new. A Fianna Fail and Fine Gael coalition, might succeed long term or might trigger voter resentment next time around.

B-No border poll for united Ireland in my lifetime says Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster.-Despite recent opinion polls  showing increased support for getting rid of the border, Arlene Foster, who turns 50 this year, told BBC’s The View there would not be a united Ireland nor even a poll in her lifetime.  The Stormont First Minister and Democratic Unionist Party leader  was asked if she thought she would see a united Ireland in her lifetime. She replied: “No I don’t”. When asked if she would see a border poll in the same timeframe, she again replied: “No, I don’t“. Asked why, she added:”Because there has to be evidence there...As you know the test for a border poll is that people would vote for it in a majority. And there’s no evidence of that…Yes, people can have different opinion polls, but there’s no tangible evidence if you look right across Northern Ireland”. The Good Friday agreement says that Britain’s six county secretary “may by order direct the holding of a poll… if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting” would vote to be part of a united Ireland. Foster thinks this means British officials need not allow a vote in her lifetime. Meanwhile the DUP refused to join in a discussion week organised by Shared Ireland, a group which believes unity is the way forward, but asks unionists to take part in discussions. Colin Harvey, professor of human rights at Queens University, said unionists faced a challenge. “There has been a lot of focus on those proposing Irish reunification,” he said.”But if these referendums do take place, if there’s a referendum in the north, what is the proposition of unionists?”

C-New British Secretary Brandon Lewis plans Legacy Whitewash-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson removed Julian Smith as six county secretary and replaced him with Brandon Lewis, the former chair of the Conservative Party. Smith had brokered the deal to get the north’s parties back to the Stormont Assembly, after a 3 year impasse. He was faulted for pledging to deliver the legacy bodies agreed in the December 2014, Stormont House Agreement. The “New Decade New Deal” promised these laws within 100 days and this pledge was crucial to six county nationalists and the Irish government. The new plan for legacy cases is designed to shield British troops and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, from investigations which could lead to prosecutions. For decades British crown forces had a de facto immunity or impunity, and were not punished for murders on behalf of the crown. Legal excuses were found for mass murders like the Ballymurphy Massacre or Bloody Sunday. Nationalists fought court battles to define right to life protections under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The leading case stemmed from the murder of the Gibraltar 3.It held that the right to life created  legal obligations (1)to conduct full, open and transparent investigations into state killings, which are public, independent and involve victims’ families, and(2) a duty of command, control and training over its forces who take life. The Stormont House Agreement made by the British and Irish governments and five of the north’s political parties in December 2014,promised 4 new legacy bodies to fulfil these obligations. The key body was a Historical Investigations Unit. The HIU would investigate almost 2,000 Troubles killings including those by British forces or collusion killings. An Independent Commission on Information Retrieval(ICIR)could give information to families in exchange for immunity. There would be an Oral History Archive and an Implementation and Reconciliation Group. The new plan is a gimmick to close the vast majority of almost 2,000 unsolved cases and stop them from ever being re-opened. Cases would be  reviewed by what the British say  will be an “independent body”. Only where it saw “new compelling evidence and a realistic prospect of a prosecution”, would they investigate.  All other cases would be  permanently blocked from further investigations. The updated legacy plan was set out on the same day as Boris Johnson’s Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Jonny Mercer, announces legislation to protect former soldiers from “vexatious” historical investigations. Irish Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Simon Coveney said the measure had “significant changes” from the legacy approach signed up to in the Stormont House Agreement. Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Féin said the new plan was “unacceptable”. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called it “an act of spectacular bad faith”. Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice said ” the British government has once again moved the goal posts to protect those within its armed forces and those within illegal organisations they colluded with. Its ultimate aim is to prevent the truth from emerging about its role in the conflict”.

D-Final chapter in Renewable Heat Scandal that led to 3 year Stormont collapse- The Renewable Heat Initiative, ridiculed as “Cash for Ash” or “Money to Burn,” which cost taxpayers 480 million pounds, and led to a three year collapse of the Stormont Assembly, ended without political fireworks in a quiet report by Judge Patrick Coghlin. Arlene Foster apologized for her failures but would not resign as DUP leader and First Minister. Coghlin was critical of Foster, for endorsing a plan which allowed businesses to make a profit by burning unneeded fuel, when she was minister at the Department of Enterprise, Trade Investment (DETI).Foster admitted she had not read the legislation, but blamed her advisors and civil service. Traditional Unionist Voice head Jim Allister said “by spreading the blame widely, some may have escaped the sharper criticism that they deserved…Yet, the question remains – will there be consequences for anyone? In any other jurisdiction it is hard to imagine that heads would not roll. But here, even the concept that the buck stops with the Minister when a department spectacularly fails, as DETI did, has become so muted that a preemptive apology seems to do.” After the scandal broke in November 2016,there were calls for Foster’s resignation. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness asked Foster to step aside temporarily, while the matter was under investigation. When Foster refused, he resigned. Under the power-sharing rules, this meant the assembly could not meet. It remained closed for three years.

                 CHRISTMAS APPEAL APPRECIATION

Nineteen applicants will receive a record amount in FFAI  Christmas Appeal grants. The presentations were scheduled to be made personally this past week, but had to be postponed along with meetings to plan FFAI strategy proposals for our National Convention. With the British moving on a legacy whitewash, and added financial burdens of working despite closed offices, these groups tell us that our AOH-LAOH grants are desperately needed ! Four first time applicants will receive grants including : the Ballymurphy Massacre Families Committee (2) Museum of Free Derry operated by Bloody Sunday Trust,(3) Tyrone National Graves and (4)the Witness Project headed by Sean Murray. Repeat recipients include: Relatives for Justice, Pat Finucane Centre, Holy Cross Ardoyne-headed by Fr. Gary Donegan, EALU-( Escape in Irish) centre for  Tyrone Republican ex-political prisoners, Greater New Lodge Commemoration Committee, Conway Mill Trust, Cairde Strabane, St. Patrick Centre, Duchas Oiriall-South Armagh, Bridges beyond Boxing, Down Patriot Graves, Green Cross, Belfast National Graves, Omagh Basketball and Omagh Choir.

New York and Pennsylvania were the top state contributors. Virginia rose to third and is a major success story. Jim McLaughlin and Terry Riley and Virginia challenge each division to earn awards for $1000 donations. There were some welcome successes in California, Florida, North Carolina and New Hampshire along with repeat success in Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Louisiana and Kentucky. The LAOH must also be congratulated for a major increase in its contribution. America can make a difference for the six counties still denied freedom in Ireland, but only  if the AOH and LAOH, as the voice of the Irish in America, lead the way. Our donations to carefully chosen charities through monies raised by the FFAI Annual Christmas Appeal, alongside our political and educational campaigns, are the cornerstone of our FFAI initiative.

            

 

           FFAI SPIRIT AND DETERMINATION

                 

All of us have seen a great many things which we took for granted disappear, because of the current health crisis. That list includes platforms which we counted on, to help those in Ireland still denied freedom. St. Patrick’s Day parades, always an Irish rallying point, were lost. The Irish Presidential Forum, forcing candidates to speak to Irish issues has been pushed back. New York Hibernians lost formal ceremonies in the state Senate and Assembly memorializing the sacrifices of Terence MacSwiney, Kevin Barry and other patriots a century ago during the Black and Tan War.

 

Meanwhile the crisis has not slowed British injustice. As the AOH warned at a House Foreign Affairs Committee  Congressional hearing, the British government designed legacy bodies that were supposed to open the door to truth, but will instead nail that door shut. Recently I met Emma de Souza, the County Derry woman whose application for her American husband was refused because she said she was Irish not British  under the terms of the Good

 

Friday Agreement. According to her the British government’s attitude was that the GFA was something the Labour Party negotiated more than 20 years ago, and the Tories did not have to bother keeping today.

 

Meanwhile the clock continues ticking for Malachy McAllister, whose deadline for deportation remains the end of May, and has lost chances to push his issue on St. Patrick’s Day with Cardinal or at the Presidential forum.

 

Hopefully this national crisis will end soon. We will get through it with the Irish spirit and unbreakable determination that was forged within us as part of our Irish heritage. As part of that Irish spirit and determination we cannot forget those still denied Freedom for all Ireland, and come back stronger than ever behind them!    

 

                     FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN

Please read and distribute the monthly FFAI Bulletin. The is now available on 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.

                                                   

                                                  Slan,

 

                                                 MARTIN GALVIN

 

 

A Message from NYS AOH President – 2020 James F. Hayes Golf Outing

Brothers:
I hope all are safe in this trying time. If you know of any Brothers who need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact your District Director, Division President, County President, or myself. Please keep our First Responders, nurses and doctors in your prayers. Stay safe!

With the continuing pandemic, the NYS Board must cancel the 2020 James F. Hayes Golf Outing. This was not an easy decision, but it is the correct one. Neither the 2020 or 2021 NYS Board Scholarships will be affected. We look forward to the 2021 Golf Outing. A decision will be made shortly concerning the NYS AOH Board Meeting in East Durham.

Slainte,
Tom Lambert,
President NYS AOH

Five Hibernians Receive Irish Echo’s 40 Under 40 Awards

Five of our worthy Brother Hibernians received the prestigious 40 Under 40 Award from the Irish Echo, America’s oldest Irish-American newspaper recently. At a gala dinner held on Friday, February 21, 2020 at Rosie O’Grady’s restaurant in New York City, the Irish Echo honored five of our Brother Hibernians in recognition for the tremendous contributions to the Irish-American community. View the online photo album.
 
The following Brother Hibernians were recipients of this award:
 
Brother Sean (“Seanai”) Kiely, of Hoboken, NJ. Brother Kiely is a member of New York County Thomas Cardinal O’Fiaich Division 7. Born in Waterford, Ireland, Brother Kiely moved to the United States in 2017 to take up a position with the law firm of Raoul Felder and Partners. Brother Kiely holds a degree from Trinity College in Law and German. He was called to the Honourable Society of Kings Inns, Dublin, where he trained as a Barrister-at-Law, being called to the Bar of Ireland in July 2016 by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ireland.is a member of the New York Bar as a practicing attorney. An avid hurler, he currently plays for the Hoboken Guards. His hurling team won the New York State Hurling Championship last summer in Gaelic Park against Tipperary New York. He is passionate about all Irish sport. Brother Kiely served as Fianna Fail’s Waterford Representative on the National Executive of the Party from 2013-2017. 
 
Brother Andrew Sharp of New Orleans and New York, NY. Brother Sharp is a member of Suffolk County Saint Patrick’s Division 2. A native of Bayonne, New Jersey, Brother Sharp has had a lifetime immersed in Irish music and culture since early childhood. He began playing the Uileann pipes professionally at the age of 15, performing with such legends as New York City’s own Black 47 and toured with iconic Irish music legends Derek Warfield and the Young Wolfetones. He is a dedicated teacher of the various types of bagpipes, and is a pipes instructor with the Saffron United Pipe Band in Babylon, New York. The band was just awarded “Champion Supreme” in the eastern United States and will travel to Glasgow, Scotland to compete at the World Pipe Band Championship. Besides being an Irish musician, Brother Sharp is a political campaign consultant. Brother Sharp is married to his lovely wife Alexandra, and they are expecting their first child.
 
Brother Sean McCann of Putnam Valley, NY. Brother McCann is a member of Westchester County Peekskill Division 18. He was the recipient of the Building America Award.  Along with his father, Frank McCann, he is active in supporting the Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural center in East Durham, NY. Brother McCann is a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30, and graduated from the union’s three-year apprenticeship program in 2014. He obtained a New York State diploma in Stationary Engineering in 2014 and a Refrigeration Operators license from the FDNY. He currently serves as a High-Pressure Plant Tender for the City College of New York and is the shop steward assisting the Vice President of Local 983 representing High-Pressure Plant Tenders at multiple CUNY locations.He loves Irish music and attends different Irish festivals throughout the year. Brother McCann is married to his lovely wife Jackie.
 
Brother Tim Weklar of Averill Park, NY. Brother Weklar is a member of Albany County Father Henry Tansey Division 5. Brother Weklar graduated the University of Albany in 2002 with a BA, majoring in history and minoring in political science. He would then earn a Master’s degree from the College of Saint Rose in Adolescent Education. He currently teaches at City School District of Albany as a special education teacher at the Tony Clement Center for Education. Brother Weklar has served as an officer of his Division since 2009, and is the Worthy President. He also serves on Schenectady Major Degree Team and is the Past County President. Brother Weklar is married to his lovely wife Amanda. They have two children, Simon (6) and Theodore (1).
 
Brother Tomas McLaughlin of Baltimore, MD. Brother McLaughlin is an active member of the Order in Baltimore. He is the Director of the AFL-CIO Community Services of Central Maryland. He has been helping organize, train, and support workers in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Maryland his entire post-college career.  He focused his undergraduate studies thesis on the Irish Hunger Strikes. Although born in Brooklyn, NY, Brother McLaughlin was baptized in Belfast, County Antrim by the great champion of West Belfast, Father Des Wilson. Brother McLaughlin spent his first 18 summers living and working on a farm outside Ardara, County Donegal. He is the youngest member of the Fenian Memorial Committee of America’s Board of Directors, and actively supports Irish festivals and parades.
 
Our Brothers’ awards were presented by the AOH New York State Board Worthy Vice President John J. Manning.
 
Kudos to all five of our Worthy Brother Hibernians on being the recipients of this year’s Irish Echo’s 40 Under 40, bringing honor to the good name and reputation of our Ancient Order, aiding and advancing our Irish-American community and honoring our Irish heritage and Roman Catholic faith.
 
There is an old saying in the Irish-American community. “To be Irish is a blessing. To be a Hibernian is an honor.” These five Brothers bring both honor and blessings to our Order by their good works and serving our Irish-American community and in our Order’s ranks as worthy and esteemed Brother Hibernians.
 
Respectfully submitted for your review and consideration.
 
Fraternally yours in Our Motto,
 
Brother Denis P. McGowan
Vice President
Richmond County Board

Historical Happenings for March 2020

MARCH 17
Mike McCormack, NY State Historian

March 17 is a special day on our calendar because it marks the return to God of our beloved patron saint in the year 461 AD.  It was in that year that a humble missionary passed to his eternal reward.  Today he is revered around the world as Saint Patrick, patron Saint of Ireland, the Archdiocese of New York, the nation of Guiana, and hundreds of towns and parishes across the globe. But there are many other events which occurred on this day throughout history which also make it memorable; for example on March 17:

1014, High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, marched from Kincora, his stronghold at Killaloe, Co Clare, bound for Clontarf, and the battle that would break Viking power in Ireland;

1737, the first St Patrick’s celebration in America took place sponsored by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston;

1763, before the United States was even established, the first St Patrick’s Day celebration was held in New York City;

1766, it is recorded that a Saint Patrick’s Day Dinner in New York featured twenty toasts, the nineteenth of which declared “may the enemies of Ireland be tormented with itching, without the benefit of scratching“;

1776, the British evacuated Boston leaving the city to the American patriot army. General George Washington made the password of the day “Saint Patrick”;

1804, Jim Bridger, American scout, fur trader, and mountain man, was born;

1858, in a Dublin back room, James Stevens and Thomas Luby founded the Irish Republican Brotherhood, which was supported by the Fenian Brotherhood in America;

1871, the first professional baseball league – the National Association of Professional Baseball Players  was founded at Collin’s Saloon on Broadway and 13th Street in New York;

1889, Harry Clarke, the most celebrated stained glass artist of the age, was born in Dublin;

1899, An Claideamh Soluis (The Sword of Light), the official newspaper of the Gaelic League first appeared;

Many past march readings have discussed our Patron Saint, so this month we will focus on another great and glorious character from the pages of Ireland’s history and that is the first one listed above: the Emperor of the Irish: High King Brian Boru.  Brian mac Cennetig was the youngest son born to Cennetig (Kennedy) mac Lorcáin, King of Thomond, and a prince of the Dal Cais Clan.  His birthplace was near Killaloe, Co. Clare at about 940 AD.  At the time, Ireland was besieged by Viking warriors who raided up and down Ireland’s rivers from their strongholds at Dublin, Waterford, Limerick and other seaside settlements.  The tribal structure of the Irish provided no unified opposition  and, as a result, some clans sided with the Norse out of fear, some clans fought the invaders, but only when they were threatened.  Some clans even ignored the threat and continued to fight among themselves over local disputes. 

Brian’s brother, Mahon, became King of Thomond following the death of their father in 959 AD and attempted to cement relations with the Vikings and establish a lasting peace, but his younger brother Brian shared no such desire.  In fact, ever since Brian had learned of the death of his mother in a Viking raid when he was just a boy, he harbored a hatred against the Vikings that guided the rest of his life.  Too young to participate in Clan activities at the time and too old to be treated as a child, he was sent to be educated – most likely at Clonmacnoise.  There he studied Greek and Latin, but the parts he studied hardest were the battle tactics of Greek and Roman generals.  When he returned to the Dal Cais, he urged the study of Viking weapons and battle methods with the idea of waging war on the invaders, but Mahon could not be convinced.  When he was old enough, Brian broke away from his brother and with a band of followers, waged a guerrilla war on Viking settlements.  A skilled tactician, he made use of mounted cavalry, which had never been used by the Irish before.  He won many decisive victories and instilled fear in the enemy as well as the Irish clans who had allied with them.

Brian’s campaign gained popular support and many joined him, including his Brother Mahon, who finally renounced his truce with the Vikings. Their combined forces drove most of the Norse from Southern Ireland, including their leader Ivar.  Eager for revenge, Ivar returned ten years later and captured and killed Mahon. Brian succeeded his brother to the throne of Munster, bringing with him a re-fueled hatred of the Vikings.  Soon after, his forces met and defeated Ivar’s army, killing Ivar, and striking Viking influence in Southern Ireland a serious blow.  Brian returned to his boyhood home at Killaloe and in 1002 built his fortress stronghold.  It was called Kincora, deriving its name from the Irish Ceann Coradh, meaning ‘the head of the weir’.  It was located on a hill overlooking the Shannon – a site now occupied by the Catholic Church.  It guarded a part of the river that was wide enough to hinder an attack, yet shallow enough to drive cattle across.  Brian ruled from Kincora and exacted a tribute from the Munster Clans in return for his protection.  The cattle tribute was driven across that shallow part of the Shannon in the shadow of Kincora.  Tribute in Irish is Boroimhe, and from this, Brian became known as Brian of the Tributes or Brian Boru.  With this value from tribute, he paved new toads across the province, erected churches and rebuilt monasteries and monuments destroyed by raiding Vikings.

In the northern part of Ireland, Malachy the Second, followed Boru’s lead when his forces defeated a Norse army to take Dublin in 980 and Malachy became King of Meath. About the year 987, Brian was undisputed ruler of southern Ireland, yet he had no official title.  In Ossory, in Leinster, and in Connaught, his voice and his arm were felt everywhere. But a divided authority is favorable to invasion, so the Viking power began to loom up to its old proportions. Sitrick ‘silken beard’ one of the ablest of Viking leaders, was then at Dublin, and his constant raids were so formidable, that they produced an alliance between Brian and Malachy.  The alliance lasted three years, and in 997, with reinforcements  from the North, the Vikings were routed by Brian and Malachy in Wicklow, with the loss of 6,000 men and all their chief captains. Immediately after this victory the two kings, according to the Annals, entered into Dublin, and the fort thereof, and there remained seven nights, burnt the town, broke down the fort, and banished Sitrick from thence.

Finding Brian’s influence still on the rise west of the Shannon, Malachy, having vainly endeavored to secure the alliance of the Northern Hy-Nial, submitted to Brian allowing Boru to peacefully take over his lands.  Boru was granted the title “Ard Ri”, meaning “High King”. This made him one of the first – and last – kings to effectively unite Ireland under one monarch. The rivals to Brian Boru’s rule were numerous, however, both among the native Irish and the remaining Norse. In 1013, Maelmordha, King of Leinster, revolted and allied with the Vikings. They summoned reinforcements from Boru’s other Irish rivals and the Viking nations, as far away as Normandy and Iceland.  On March 17, 1014, Brian Boru led his forces out of Kincora headed for Dublin and the pages of Irish history.  The two forces met on Good Friday, April 23, 1014 on the field of Clontarf. Nearly 4,000 Irishmen were killed at the Battle, including Brian’s son Murrough, but the Viking/Leinster forces suffered even heavier losses.  At the end of the battle, what little remained of the Norse forces retreated to their ships. But before all the invaders fled, a fleeing Norse leader, Brodar, came upon Brian’s tent and attacked the Irish leader in prayer thanking God for the victory.  Then in his late seventies or early eighties, Brian was able to wound Brodar who struck Brian a mortal wound.  Brodar was captured by Brians attendants and left tied to a tree by his own intestines.

With Boru gone and his strong influence absent, Ireland soon fell into chaos and anarchy. There would never be another king powerful enough to rule all of Ireland.  In 1016, Connaught men raided and destroyed Kincora. As his descendants feuded among themselves in 1062 for the crown, Aodh O’Connor burned Killaloe and destroyed the rebuilt Kincora.  He claimed it for himself and feasted on the two sacred salmon kept in a pool within the walls of the palace

Albany Hibernians Hold Annual Communion Breakfast

On March 1st, Albany Hibernians held their annual Communion Breakfast. AOH Albany County Chaplin, Deacon Jim O’Rourke was the guest speaker and spoke about his experience as a seminarian. Deacon Jim is currently a seminarian at Pope Saint John XXIII National Seminary outside of Boston and will be ordained into the priesthood in 2020. 
 
 
Pictured are Rear: Albany Div. 5 President Tim Weklar, Albany County Chaplin Deacon Jim O’Rourke and National Organizer Tim McSweeney. Front: National Director Liam McNabb, National Vice President Karen Keane, National Catholic Action Cathy Turck, Albany Div. 1 Kathleen Stevens and Albany Div. 1 Missions and Charities Shelia Mehling. 

Celebrating 100th Anniversary Schenectady Major Degree Team Confers Degree

The John F. Kennedy Division 1 Schenectady Major Degree Team (MDT) conferred the Major Degree of the Order on Saturday, February 29, 2020 in the Fr. Henry Tansey, Division 5 Hall in Albany.  In attendance were more than forty-five Brother Hibernians participating as degree team members, candidates and observers. Eleven Brothers from surrounding counties were inducted into the highest degree of the Order.

100 Years of Service to the Order

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy Division 1 Schenectady MDT.  On hand for this milestone occasion was Jack Schneider of Pennsylvania who is the National Chair for Rituals and Degrees who delivered greetings and congratulations on behalf of the National Board. The meeting and degree ceremony was opened by Kevin O’Reilly, District 1 Director who acted as presiding officer for the event. Also on hand was Tom O’Hagan, Past President of Montgomery County, PA who was representing Isle of Erin MDT, Kevin R. Cummings, NY AOH Co-Webmaster, Tim Carey, Immediate Past President of Albany Division 5 and Tim Weklar, President of Albany Division 5 who participated as a member of the John F. Kennedy Division 1 Schenectady MDT.  The degree team is led by Jim Gavin, Chairman and Owen Cole, Vice Chairman. Brothers from Division 5 and Schenectady Division 1 were well represented as observers at the event.

Freedom For All Ireland Report – February 2020

FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

A chairde:

A-Stormont returns but bad faith on British financial pledges charged – Two days before the deadline threatening a new election, agreement was reached to restore the Stormont Assembly, after a three year absence. DUP head Arlene Foster returned as the north’s first minister, while Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill was named deputy first minister. The agreement to restore the assembly was welcomed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and accompanied by British promises of extra funding to meet the north’s economic crisis in areas like health and education. However almost immediately new Finance Minister Conor Murphy charged that the British had “stepped back from its financial commitments” and the actual financial package was “an act of bad faith”, far less than the parties had been led to believe keeping the north in an “austerity trap.” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson termed it a “momentous day…after three years without devolved government, an executive can now get on with the job of delivering much needed reforms to the health service, education and justice”.”Taoiseach  Leo Varadkar commended the six county political parties “for their decision to put the people they represent first and make measured compromises to reach a deal”. In a surprising move the DUP backing Sinn Fein member Alex Maskey as speaker instead of the SDLP member in line for the position. Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill will now have to show if they can share power and deliver on the commitments in the new Stormont. The five largest parties in the north, the DUP, Sinn Fein Alliance, SDLP and UUP also got ministerial posts. With the exception of the role of justice minister, posts are picked using the D’Hondt system, according to numbers in the assembly. The Justice Ministry is different because the DUP will not allow members from the nationalist SDLP or Sinn Fein to hold this post. The key stumbling blocks were the petition of concern, which had been wielded as a veto by the DUP, and an Irish language act. The new deal requires use of the petition, be “reduced and returned to its intended purpose” and would “only be used in the most exceptional circumstances and as a last resort, having used every other mechanism”. The deal pledges legislation for both an Irish language commissioner and an Ulster-Scots commissioner. Irish language group Conradh na Gaeilge said it was a “historic advancement” but added it “falls very much short” of promises for an Irish Language act.

B-No honors for Black and Tans as planned ceremony backfires – A planned commemoration honoring the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police forces was “deferred” by the Irish justice minister after boycotts and popular outrage. The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) were formed in the early 19th century to help keep Ireland under British rule. The prefix Royal was added to the name of Irish Constabulary because of their efforts to put down the Fenians, including many Irish Americans and American Hibernians who fought during America’s Civil War. The DMP identified the leaders of 1916 to be shot. During the Irish War of Independence (1919-21), the British government bolstered RIC ranks by recruiting thousands of ex- British soldiers, mainly from England. The RIC special reserve were nicknamed the Black and Tans because of their distinctive uniforms, while a group of former British officers were known as the Auxiliaries. They were described in ballads as “England’s foul horde”  using terror tactics against the Irish, targeting civilians and burning homes  and farms including Balbriggan and sections of Cork. Speaking about his decision to defer the event, Justice Minister Flanagan said: “There were those in the RIC who committed atrocities. The horrific record of the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries is well known. But there others officers who behaved with dignity and honour.” Dublin City councillors voted to boycott the Dublin Castle event with a motion that was passed by 38 votes to 10.The Wolfe Tone’s song “Come Out Ye Black and Tans” shot to the top of the play list. Newscasts and editorials reminded the public of the history of the force would be not just remembered but honored by a any such commemoration. The deferred commemoration is considered a  factor in the loss of popularity in opinion for Fine Gael in the upcoming Irish election.

C-Brexit comes but real problems only beginning – Hundreds of anti-Brexit campaigners held demonstrations along the Irish border as Britain left the European Union on January 31st. Protesters gathered at six locations along the border in counties Louth, Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Donegal. Stormont Finance Minister, Conor Murphy of Sinn Fein, said: “This part of Ireland did not consent to Brexit, we voted significantly to remain within the EU and we are being taken out of the EU without consent. There is now an 11 month transition period where Britain remains in the EU’s customs union and single market and continues to obey EU rules but is no longer part of the political institutions. There are no longer any British MEPs in the European Parliament. Now Britain must negotiate a trade deal with the European Union that includes Ireland. Britain wants access for its goods and services to the EU but wants out the customs union and single market and an end the overall jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. All 27 member states and the European Parliament have to be in agreement on a trade deal. Formal talks might only begin in March and Johnson has said there will be no extensions to the transition period. If there is no trade deal  by the end of the year, then the Britain faces the prospect of tariffs on exports.

D-Wolfe Tones were targets of Miami Showband Massacre – The lead singer of the Wolfe Tones, believes they were the intended target of the loyalist attack that claimed the lives of three members of the Miami Showband. The Miami Showband were targeted after being stopped at a bogus patrol, manned by UDR and UVF members, in the early hours of July 31 1975.Lead singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy  were murdered as they returned to Dublin after a concert in Banbridge, Co Down. All three were shot several times, after a bomb was placed under the band’s van to make it seem as though the group had been transporting explosives. Top of ForBottom of FormTwo members of the UVF gang behind the attack, Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville, were killed when the bomb exploded prematurely. UDR members Thomas Raymond Crozier and Rodney Shane McDowell, and UVF member James Somerville, were convicted of the murders. Brian Warfield of The Wolfe Tones, said shortly before the Miami Showband attack the band were warned that their lives were at risk. Adding that they had been warned not to travel across the border in the mid-70s following an incident at a GAA club outside of Kilkeel when they had to flee the area by driving across the Mourne Mountains. Mr Warfield said: “I believe the massacre of the Miami was set up for the Wolfe Tones on that night.” “We were playing in a big marquee … I came out and the organizers

said to me ‘you can’t go home the main road’.”I said why is that and he said ‘because there is a blockade waiting for you down there’.”He said, “we’re going to take you over the mountains of Mourne”, which they did”.”The day we got back to Dublin the Special Branch said that the Wolfe Tones were not to go north again, that our lives were in danger.”I believe that the Glenanne Gang were in that front bar …getting ready to pick up the Wolfe Tones on the way home.

CHRISTMAS APPEAL

There is still time to contribute to Freedom for all Ireland and the Christmas Appeal. The Stormont Assembly was restored after three years, but the British government stepped back from its financial pledges putting the north in a new austerity trap. Brexit was pushed through with long term effects on Ireland that will not be fully seen for years. Legacy mechanisms promised at Stormont House in 2014, will finally be moved forward but only after the British and DUP have blocked truth and justice for families of victims murdered by the crown or loyalist agents. The British want to remove  Human Rights Acts protections formally written into the Good Friday Agreement, giving a legalized immunity for British troopers. The DUP wants to undercut investigations of crown forces by the Historical Investigations Unit.

Those still denied freedom in Ireland count on the AOH and LAOH to stand behind them. Those who participated in last February’s AOH-LAOH tour saw and heard firsthand how important our grants are.

We have already received more appeals for help than ever before from justice groups, ex-prisoners, cultural groups, etc.

Don’t let them down!!!

AOH-LAOH FFAI CHRISTMAS APPEAL
PO Box 904
Jefferson Valley,
New York 10535

REGISTER NOW FOR PRESIDENTIAL FORUM

At one time, it was commonplace at Irish events to hear speakers ask why American presidents never spoke about Irish issues like they took up the issues of other countries. That ended in 1992 because of the work done by John Dearie and the pledges given by candidate Bill Clinton, which changed the Irish political landscape so dramatically.

 The 1992 Presidential Forum was historic for Irish America because of pledges given by future President Bill Clinton about a visa for Gerry Adams, a special envoy which became George Mitchell, and the question about Joe Doherty and political asylum which led to deferred action for Irish political deportees like Matt Morrison, Gabriel Megahey and Brian Pearson etc.

 The most important step in any Irish political forum is guaranteeing a big enough crowd so that presidential candidates

feel it necessary to make time to speak about our Irish issues. Former Assemblyman John Dearie has asked the AOH for help. Judge McKay will be one of the panelists.

Please register for the event by emailing IrishForum2020@gmail.com, and include your name and telephone number. The forum will be held at 1 pm on April 26th at Fordham Law School, on West 62nd Street, New York.

FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN

Please read and distribute the monthly FFAI Bulletin. The is now available on 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.

Slan,

Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
National AOH FFAI Chair

NB-Because of time constraints this must be sent out before the Irish General Election. Will have a full analysis in the next bulletin!

Historical Happenings for February 2020

FATHER TOM O’REILLY

by Mike McCormack, AOH NY State Historian

On a trip to Atlanta some years ago, I met Father Thomas O’Reilly – figuratively, of course, – since Father Tom passed away back in 1872. Yet in March 2007, he was honored with the City of Atlanta’s Phoenix Award in appreciation of his heroism and outstanding contributions to the City and citizens of Atlanta. It simply just begged the question: who was this remarkable man?
Born in Drumgora, Co. Cavan, in 1831, Thomas O’Reilly graduated All Hallows seminary in Dublin and was sent to the American south as a missionary priest in the area of Atlanta where Masses were held in private homes. In 1848, a wooden-frame church was built by a fellow Irish missionary, Father John Barry. The people named it the Church of the Immaculate Conception. That was remarkable since it was dedicated in 1849, six years before the Church had even defined its official dogma that Mary had been conceived without original sin. During the 1850’s prosperity abounded in Georgia; cotton was king and new factories were the order of the day as well as a new influx of Catholics. In 1861 Father Thomas O’Reilly was appointed pastor of Atlanta’s first Church and its missions. 

                   Father Thomas O’Reilly

Then came the Civil War and Atlanta became the military manufacturing and supply depot for the South. The city also became a main medical center with at least ten hospitals where thousands of wounded were treated. These hospitals occupied much of Father O’Reilly’s time. In 1864, the Union Army, led by General Sherman, laid siege to Atlanta during which Father O’Reilly ministered to both Union and Confederate wounded. He became a hero to both sides, hearing confessions, answering letters, saying Mass and performing last rites. On 2 September, 1864, the city fell to General Sherman who evicted many residents to allow housing for his army. Many were Father O’Reilly’s parishioners, but Catholics among the boys in blue now crowded his church on Sunday.
In the autumn of 1864, General Sherman, planning his ‘total war’ march to the sea at Savannah, ordered the entire city burned. An outraged Father O’Reilly sent word to Sherman that burning homes and churches was beyond the normal rules of warfare. Sherman was unresponsive. Father O’Reilly pleaded for a compromise that would spare his church. Sherman rejected the request. Father O’Reilly sent word that a number of Atlanta’s merchants and tradesmen who had not gone to war stood ready to defend their churches and among them were an Irish group known as The Hibernian Rifles. Further, he warned Sherman that the Union army had a high number of Irish Catholics and stated, ‘If you burn the Catholic church, all Catholics in the Union army will mutiny and if not, they will be excommunicated’. Sherman considered having Father O’Reilly executed, but feared mutiny among his Irish troops and finally relented. Then, an emboldened Father O’Reilly asked that the other churches be spared, as well as City Hall and the Court House since they were in close proximity to his church and the fire might spread. Sherman changed his orders to spare City Hall, the Court House and five churches including Immaculate Conception, Central Presbyterian, St. Phillip’s Episcopal, Second Baptist and Trinity Methodist. As the Federal Army moved out on its infamous march to the sea, only one-third of Atlanta survived with about 500 brave people and Father Tom O’Reilly. From this they would rebuild.
Feeling that their old church would be out of place in the new city going up around it, the parishioners built a new church on the same spot which stands to this day. Sadly, Father O’Reilly did not live to see it completed. In 1872, the ravages of war which had ruined his health, caused his death at 41 in a Virginia sanitarium. His remains were brought back to his beloved parish for the largest funeral ever held up to that time. Father O’Reilly was buried in a vault prepared beneath the altar of the rising new Church. As a result of Father O’Reilly’s heroic stand, and the bravery of the Hibernian Rifles, the City of Atlanta deeded the Hibernians a burial plot in Oakland Cemetery in 1873. The five churches and the City also erected a monument to Father O’Reilly on the grounds of City Hall. On 10 December, 1873, the new Church of the Immaculate Conception was formally dedicated and local newspapers described it as one of the most handsome in the South and an ornament to our city.

In 1879, General Sherman returned on an inspection tour of Atlanta’s Fort McPherson. He was surprised at the progress of the city, to which he gave a toast at a local reception. Surely, as he rode through the re-born city, he noticed the new church and the memory of the gentle but persistent Father O’Reilly had to come to his mind, for religion had finally won in his own life as well ─ at the time his son was studying for the priesthood! Although never a religious man, Sherman’s foster mother, Maria Ewing, was a devout Catholic of Irish ancestry as was his wife, Ellen. Sherman now lies in the Roman Catholic Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.

On 18 October 1945, eighty-one years after his brave and defiant intercession, the Atlanta Historical Society erected a monument to Father O’Reilly in gratitude for saving the churches and City Hall in 1864. In truth he was like so many other courageous clerics from Father Murphy of Boolavogue to Archbishop ‘Dagger John’ Hughes of New York, but he was not as well known outside Atlanta. Ironically, his burial place was soon forgotten as the memory of this heroic priest began to fade especially with the new arrivals in the bustle of a growing metropolis. Then, in 1982, the Church of The Immaculate Conception caught fire and the roof fell in. It broke through the concrete floor of the church to reveal a long-forgotten crypt. In it were the coffins of Father O’Reilly and his successor Father Cleary. The discovery resurrected the story of this hero of Atlanta and the crypt was made accessible to pilgrims. A small adjacent room contains museum-style glass cases with artifacts of the Church’s history and the resurrection of Atlanta from the ashes of the Civil War. In one of those cases, beside a portrait of Father O’Reilly, lies his membership ribbon from Atlanta AOH Division 1!

NYS AOH Board Scholarship

NYS AOH Board Scholarship Competition is Now Open

Happy New Year,

Applications are now being accepted for the New York State AOH Board Scholarship.  Applications, instructions and all study materials are available on the Board website homepage, www.nyaoh.com , under 2020 Scholarship Opportunity. You may also click on the following  link:

http://www.nyaoh.com/nys-aoh-board-scholarship-competition/

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Go raibh maith agaibh and good luck,

Dermot

 

Dermot O’Connor Moore

NYS AOH Scholarship Chair

dermotomoore@gmail.com

646-302-5111