Annual Northern Ireland Christmas Appeal Fundraiser

Cortland Manor, NY – September 28, 2011 – The New York State Freedom for All Ireland Committee of the Ancient Order of Hibernians has announced its annual Northern Ireland Christmas Appeal Fundraiser to be held on October 13, 2011, at Harbour Lights Restaurant located on Pier 17 of the South Street Seaport.

“The good will and outreach for the Christmas Appeal each year brings direct results to the people of the North,” said NY State FFAI Chairman Dan Dennehy, “ and helps Americans have a better understanding of the needs of the people of Northern Ireland.”

Admission is included in a minimum donation of $50 to the annual appeal, and includes music and food. There will also be a cash bar.

There will be a number of speakers on the agenda who will address the struggle for a United Ireland, including

  • Clara O’Reilly (Relatives For Justice) 2011 AOH Sean McBride Humanitarian Award Winner
  • Matt Morrison (Thar Saile)
  • Steve McCabe & General James Cullen (Brehon Law Society)
  • Sean Pender (AOH National FFAI Chair & NJ State President)

All monies donated that night will go to the AOH’s annual Christmas Appeal, which has raised and distributed over $570,000 in direct aid to the people of Northern Ireland.

Last year, the AOH was able to make donations to 21 organizations throughout Northern Ireland and the United States, including:

  • Bloody Sunday Families, Derry
  • Cairdre, Strabane
  • Holy Cross, Ardoyne, Belfast
  • Justice for the Forgotten, Dublin & Monaghan
  • Mary’s Gift USA—for Irish speaking schools in the North
  • Omagh Basketball Club & Omagh Choir
  • Pat Finucane Center, Derry & Newry
  • Relatives for Justice, Belfast & Dungannon
  • Thar Saile, USA

For more information about the event please contact NY State FFAI Chairman Dan Dennehy at (914) 588-2710 or by email at

About the Northern Ireland Christmas Appeal:  Since 2001, the AOH’s Christmas Appeal has raised and distributed over $570K of direct aid to make positive change in the lives of many people in Ireland. Last year the Christmas Appeal was able to make donations to 21 organizations throughout the North of Ireland & USA.

 About the Ancient Order of Hibernians: Founded in 1836, the Ancient Order of Hibernians is the largest Irish Catholic organization in the United States, with almost 35,000 members nationwide and almost 10,000 in New York State. Membership is open at all men age 16 and over, who are of Irish birth or ancestry, and are practicing Catholics. For more information, please visit their website at or contact Nassau County Organizer Tom Lambert at

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Omagh Club Tours U.S.

After a year of planning, the Omagh Thunder Basketball Club of Omagh Northern Ireland toured portions of the Northeastern U.S. in July.  Under the leadership of head coach Eamon Daly, a member of Philadelphia Division 39 now living in Omagh, and assistant coaches Aidan Bradley, Conor McElroy and Chris Grimes the team of eleven boys,12 and 13 years of age, landed at Kennedy Airport on July 15 to begin a ten-day tour that was, by every measure, an overwhelming success. Their stay in the states gave team members a taste of what an American summer can be like, thanks to the heat wave in the Northeast in late July, and reports from the team say they were thrilled to arrive in Shannon on July 26 greeted by the welcoming rain of home.

Sightseeing, meeting people, along with great receptions and picnics hosted by AOH and LAOH members, were a big part of the trip, but basketball was first and foremost on the agenda and the centerpiece of every stop was a game and clinic. Our American organizers and the local committees did an outstanding job of not only lining up local youth teams for the boys to play against but in securing the very best in local youth basketball coaching to run the clinics. The Omagh coaching staff was effusive in their praise for the content of the clinics and the improvement in the team’s skills as a result.

Of course it was not all work and no play and the team was treated like kings at every stop. They were showered with gifts that included clothing, backpacks, sneakers and plaques and their day trips took them to Six Flags Great Adventure and Avon on the Sea at the New Jersey Shore, the Liberty Bell and the “Rocky Steps” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (team members are fans of the movie Rocky), St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty, the Intrepid and Madison Square Garden; they experienced American baseball at a minor league baseball game and spent a day at the National Basketball Hall of Fame. They ended their trip with one of their biggest thrills that centered on their favorite basketball team, the Boston Celtics by touring the Boston Garden and having the chance to shoot hoops at the Celtics training facility in Waltham, MA.

Our thanks go to the American tour organizers who included Dennis Daly in Pennsylvania, Tim Myles in New York, Kevin Weldon in New Jersey, Dick Thompson and Dick Wall in Massachusetts, as well as Frank Kearney, Jr. in Connecticut. The AOH and LAOH National Boards helped with their financial contributions. The Hibernian Charity under whose banner the trip was organized and most especially to the AOH and LAOH divisions and membership who have supported this project since its inception need to be very proud of what they have done. As one of our organizers said, “Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of the many good things we do as an organization”

This project made a very positive impact on children from Omagh, a town which suffered a massive bombing downtown on August 15, 1998 with the largest loss of life in a single bombing in all of the Troubles. Every member of the AOH/LAOH can take great pride in what they have done to help Eamon and Omagh Basketball with this reconciliation project in a city which suffered such a massive loss, as well as on the Basketball Tour in the United States.