Diplomatic Meeting

Members of the AOH National Board and guests pose for picture with the Irish Ambassador after a luncheon he hosted in Washington at his residence. Pictured (L – R) Dan O’Connell Sr., Sean Pender, Jere Cole, Tom Brady, Brendan Moore, Seamus Boyle, Ambassador Michael Collins, Jim McKay, Ned McGinley, Dan Dennehy, Danny O’Connell, Joe Roach, Keith Carney.

Members of the National Board recently attended a luncheon at the invitation of the Irish Ambassador to the United States, Michael Collins. The luncheon was held at his residence not far from the Irish Embassy in Washington, DC.  The residence of the Ambassador of Ireland was built in 1924 and is historically named the Frederic Delano House after its original owner. Frederic Delano was a member of the Federal Reserve Board and uncle of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  The Irish Government purchased the house in 1965.

The AOH was represented by 10 members of the Board including Executive Board Members Seamus Boyle, Brendan Moore and Jim McKay. Jim McKay also serves as Honorary Consul in New Orleans for the Irish Government. In additional two other AOH members attended as guests.  The Ambassador was joined by his Diplomatic staff members Mr. Myles Geiran, First Secretary and Press and Information Officer and Mr. Adrian McDaid, Political Counselor.

Making note that the AOH is the largest Irish Catholic organization in the United States and that our membership reaches every community around the country, the Ambassador was intent on furthering the relationship with our organization and finding ways in which we can help each other further common goals. The luncheon fostered significant discussion on such important topics as immigration policy, the undocumented and community support for Irish immigrants.  In addition we discussed how the AOH and its members can help Ireland in the current economic climate through tourism, business opportunities for American companies, and enticing higher education opportunities now being promoted to the Irish Diaspora in the U.S.

Also a topic of conversation was the Ambassador’s suggestion that the AOH play leading roles in future historic commemorations such as the upcoming 1916 Anniversary. The Ambassador was measuring our strength and demographics in age and other areas. Upon learning of our focus on youthful recruitment he suggested that we associate with the Irish Networks starting up in major metropolitan areas in the U.S. and sponsored in part by the Irish Government.

The luncheon provided an open and candid dialog and showed that a fine relationship continues to develop between the AOH and the Irish Foreign Affairs Department. This is true not only at the Irish Embassy in Washington, DC but at Irish Consulates throughout the U.S.

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President’s Message

It is my pleasure to report that the Spring Board meeting weekend in East Durham was a tremendous success and was perhaps one of the best attended in a long while. As I announced at the Board Meeting; the entire weekend was dedicated to N.Y. State’s celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the A.O.H. The Jim Hayes Memorial golf outing was a great success raising funds for our Austin V. Carew Scholarship Fund. It was necessary for a change from one golf course to another nearby course at the last minute as a result of a very rainy week in the Catskills. Our meeting was held on Saturday morning at the Shamrock House where much business of our Order was conducted in fine form with the pleasure of having a number of National Board officers present. Of course our own Brendan Moore, National Vice President and Tom McNabb National Secretary were present and gave very informative and inspiring reports. Also present was the National Director responsible for N.Y. State, Jere Cole who gave us both an update on Catholic Action activities as well as an update on the 175th Anniversary Commemorative Coin.

At the beginning of the meeting we also conducted a memorial service in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the Hunger Strike. Led by our State Historian Mike McCormack we stood in quiet remembrance of the ten brave Irish Nationalist who painfully gave there lives 30 years ago while on hunger strike for truth, justice and to see all Ireland free. We then shared in prayers and heard each of the names of the ten souls. The State Board also produced a memorial prayer card commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Hunger Strike that has been distributed to all jurisdictions. The card was created by F.F.A.I Chairman Tim Miles and Mike McCormack. These cards were widely distributed throughout the State and are still available by contacting Tim Miles.

In light of both of these significant historical events I called on all jurisdictions to sponsor local 175th Anniversary celebrations of some form as well as conducting a memorial service for the 30th Anniversary of the Hunger Strike. As a result I have been receiving many reports of these events and I encourage all jurisdictions that have not yet done so, please schedule and conduct both of these events soon.

Of course the National Boards celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the Order was held in New York City on the weekend of May 2022. There were a number of events held and I would like to congratulate two of our own who were tapped to organize the weekend. Ed Wallace who was the general chairman and was responsible for the entire event and Tom Beirne who was Ed’s right hand man in tightening down all the loose nuts and bolts. Hibernian leaders and Hibernians from throughout the country came here to mark the Anniversary. I recognize and thank all of our New York Hibernians who traveled from far and near to be part of the event.

Now all that’s left is for you to get your 175th Anniversary Commemorative Coin which can be ordered with the form that can be downloaded from our N.Y. State website at www.nyaoh.com or can it be purchased on line through the website. The coin will also be offered for sale at our Convention in Pearl River, Rockland County this July.

Speaking of our N.Y. State Convention, which will be held from Wednesday, July 13th to Sunday, July 17th, planning is very advanced as it should be and the reservations are coming in for all of the events. We have worked hard to put together an outstanding package which ranges from a Wednesday night ‘Icebreaker’ with a full BBQ Dinner menu to two great dinners on Friday and Saturday evenings. I assure you that you will not be disappointed with this Convention’s events. The Journal deadline has been extended to June 24th; I remind and ask all the jurisdictions to take a page in the journal to be part of the historical chronicle of the event as well as supporting the Convention. If you have any questions regarding the Convention kindly contact the Convention Chairman Warren Scullin (917-751-1661).

We are in the midst of the County Convention season and I encourage all Counties to consider carefully when electing your County leaders who will be in office for the next two years. They will have much work to do. I have been very fortunate to have traveled to many Counties to date to participate in there Conventions and to conduct the installation of the newly elected officers. I congratulate those officers and I look forward to being with you for your County Convention. Please make sure that you notify me of the date and time and I will make every effort to be with you.

As always, all the best to you and your families with prayers and best wishes from my family. Stay cool and I look forward to seeing you in Pearl River, Rockland County, July 13th – 17th to conduct the work of the Order in Convention and to share great Hibernian fraternalism with all of you.

Hibernians to Present MacBride Award to Belfast’s Clara Reilly

MacBride Award Chairman/AOH National Vice President Brendan Moore and MacBride Award Representative/LAOH National Vice President Maureen Shelton announced that Clara Reilly, Northern Ireland human rights crusader, has been selected as the 2011 MacBride Award recipient based on balloting conducted among National Board members and State Presidents of both the AOH and LAOH.

The purpose of the prestigious Sean MacBride Humanitarian Award is specifically stated in the AOH National Constitution: To memorialize the human rights contributions made by Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Sean MacBride and to recognize the efforts of others who make similar contributions in the cause of peace, justice, and the economic well-being of the Irish people.  Moore stated that “nominees for the MacBride Award are outstanding individuals derived from within and outside of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians. Actual voting takes place only after those eligible to vote have had ample time to study and reflect on the biographies of all those who have been nominated.”

Despite raising six small children when internment in Northern Ireland was introduced, having all male members of her family interned, and subsequently losing two brothers and a cousin in the conflict, Clara Reilly’s name became synonymous with justice in Ireland. The 1970’s saw her documenting arrests of Nationalists, taking prisoner statements, and ensuring legal representation for those detained by the Royal Ulster Constabulary. While frantic relatives sought news of family members, she telephoned across Belfast and across the Six Counties on a daily basis seeking the whereabouts of those removed from their homes and as well as those arrested on the streets.

Reilly gradually emerged as a frontline advocate for her besieged community. She negotiated with senior Royal Ulster Constabulary and British army officers on behalf of those being victimized. She later lobbied the Irish government to initiate action against the British in the European Court on Human Rights, where Britain was eventually found guilty of both torture and inhumane treatment. Working with human rights attorney Pat Finucane, successful litigation forced the British army to end its random arrests for “screening “purposes. Reilly went on to found the Campaign Against Plastic Bullets and became the Founder and Co-Director of Relatives For Justice, a support group for families of those injured or killed in the conflict.

Recently asked if she now has any regrets about committing thirty-five years of her life to the tremendously difficult campaign to promote justice and equality in Northern Ireland, Clara Reilly unhesitatingly responded: “I have never regretted one day of my work for human rights, despite the highs and lows of that struggle.” Moore concluded: “Clara is assuredly a most worthy recipient of our Sean MacBride Humanitarian Award, which will be presented to her in conjunction with the AOH National President’s Testimonial Dinner in Philadelphia on October 8, 2011.”

 

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Catholic University of America

Pictured (L- R) meeting at Catholic University are Bob Sullivan and Dean Poos of CUA, Vice President Brendan Moore and Director Keith Carney.

In 1896, 8 years after Catholic University of America (CUA) was founded in Washington, DC, the AOH provided a gift in the amount of $50,000 to endow a Chair in Gaelic Languages and Literature. That endowed fund still exists at Catholic University today, under the title AOH Chair of Gaelic Language and Literature.  The AOH endowment was looked at with great suspicion by some at CUA when it was originally provided.  It was a unique and extremely generous gift at the time and it was only the second endowment the University had ever received, the first being in 1893 (in the amount of $30,000) by U.S. Catholic Bishops.  The only other Celtic department in the United States at that time was at Harvard.  Many at the University were suspicious of the AOH at the time actually frowned upon the gift for a Chair calling the organization a “secret society”.  One historic reference in a University correspondence of 1892 expressed the view that “this University Chair ought to labeled the ‘Murderers’ Chair.”

In 1983, Catholic University established The Center for Irish Studies which organized lectures and other co-curricular events relating to Irish history, literature, and culture. Subsequently, a Master’s Degree in Irish Studies program started in 1991.  The degree program required study of modern Irish language but enrollment in courses for that language included students who were not in the Irish Studies Master’s Degree program.  In 2009 the AOH discovered that Catholic University had shut down (if only temporarily) their Irish Studies program because of a shake up and abrupt departure of the acting chair of the department and other associated staff.

Vice President Brendan Moore (a Catholic University alum) and National Director Keith Carney recently met with representatives of Catholic University in Washington, DC to discuss the status of the AOH endowment at the University.  The meeting included the Dean Larry Poos of the English Department, Bob Sullivan – the head of Development for Catholic and Dr. Coilin Owens a professor currently teaching an undergraduate Gaelic Language class at CUA.  Many options are on the table on how to deal with the AOH endowment and CUA is determined to maintain the fund for use as close to its original intent as possible.  Director Carney had requested a status of the endowment provided by the AOH and was provided with a status of the account in October of 2010 – that account currently holds (according to the University’s document) over $215,000.

While the amount of money currently in the endowment is significant, it is not enough to pay to hire a full time dean to run a Gaelic Studies program.  The University could not comment on the accounting of the fund over the years but readily admitted that they had not invested “any” endowments well over the years (until recently).  Catholic University has several other endowments that support Irish studies, including the Rose Saul Zalles Chair in Celtic Studies, the John F. Kane Fund, and the Mary Moran Chair in Celtic Language.  The two former funds were the chief sources of funding for The Center for Irish Studies activities. While no conclusions were drawn at the meeting, the combining of the other endowments (similar in purpose) to better pool resources in order to fulfill the original intent for the funds was proposed.

The Washington, DC AOH recently organized a Division at Catholic University, named the Sons of Saint Aiden Division and have over 40 members (all college students) that is serving as a model for other College students looking to start divisions.

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New York News

On Feb. 27th, the Glen Cove Div 8 presented sashes to its Grand Marshal and Aides for the Parade that was held on March 20th. Pictured (L – R) Division 8 LAOH President Lisa Forgione, Aide to the Grand Marshal Jim Burke, Aide to the Grand Marshal Carol McTigue, Grand Marshal Andy Stafford, Div 8 President Joe McDonald

AOH Div 14 donation to the Mary Brennan Soup Kitchen

 

Tim Myles (L) and Jim Henry (R) present a donation to Stephan Robinson (Center) at the "Mary Brennan Soup Kitchen" in Hempstead, NY.

Our Lady of Knock Division held 46th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade Grand Marshal’s Ball.

On Saturday February 26, 2011, AOH Our Lady of Knock Div 7, Suffolk County, NY held its 46th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade Grand Marshal’s Ball. Div 7 honored long time member and community leader Kevin Boyle, Sr. Kevin is a United States Navy Veteran, Past Hibernian of the Year, and volunteer for all Hibernian activities. In addition to many family members and friends, the Ball was attended by National, State, County and Division officers from both the AOH and the LAOH. They all acknowledged Kevin’s commitment to our motto of Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity. By honoring Kevin, we honor ourselves.

Pictured (L – R) Kneeling – Ch. of Comm. Tom McHugh, Mar. Shawn O'Neill, Sent. John Owen, Sec. Dr. Dave Ring. Standing – Fin. Sec. Larry Wolff, VP Mac McFadden, Suffolk Pres. Brian Clancy, NYS Past Pres. John Hennessy, Nat. VP Brendan Moore, Aide Kevin Boyle Jr., Grand Marshal Kevin Boyle, Aide Herman Boyle, Treas. Tom Davis, NYS VP Mike McNabb, NYS Sec. Jim Burke, Pres. Vic Vogel. (Photo courtesy of Maureen Meier)


Bronx Hibernians Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Parade Installation

Bronx Hibernians gather at the Installation dinner at Antun’s Restaurant to congratulate John J. Casserly on his selection as an aide to the grand marshal for the New York City St Patrick’s Day parade on March 17th.

Pictured (L – R) Christopher Butler, John J. Hyland, Bronx Aide – John J. Casserly, Parade Chairman – John T. Dunleavy, Bronx County President – Martin Keller, Robert F. Nolan and John Quinn.

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Leadership Seminar

Pictured (L-R) Tom Beirne, Dan Dennehy, Matt Nelligan, Brian Kelly, Aidan O'Kelly-Lynch

An AOH Leadership Seminar was held Saturday, November 13 at the new Hibernian Hall at the Hudson Valley Irish Center in Verplanck, NY.  A panel including Matt Nelligan, 2012 National Convention Chairman and Past NYS President, Tom Beirne, NY County President, Brian Kelly, Westchester County, and Dan Dennehy, National Immigration Chairman. Over fifty Hibernians from New Jersey, Connecticut and Ohio, as well as members from across NY State joined the members from the Metropolitan area in participating in this remarkable forum. Brendan Moore, National Vice President, along with National Directors Jere Cole & Danny O’Connell, Sean Pender, National FFAI, Joe McDonald, Digital Hibernian Digest and Ed Rice, NY State Organizer provided their observations and expertise to the forum. New acquaintances were made and information shared to benefit the good of the Order.

Brendan Moore congratulated Brothers Dan Dennehy, Matt Nelligan, Tom Beirne, and Brian Kelly for their efforts in structuring and presenting this seminar. “They achieved and surpassed all of their objectives. Their Leadership Seminar should be further developed and repeated throughout the AOH.”

The seminar focused on the following topics:

  • AOH Officer & Member
  • Roles, responsibilities & duties
  • AOH Halls
  • Meetings and Ceremonies
  • Layout and Decorum
  • Our Constitution & Bylaws
  • Robert’s Rules of Order:
  • For the Good of Our Order
  • Recruitment & Retention
  • Brothers for Life

Matt Nelligan thanked Brother Dennehy for putting the seminar together stating, “In order to make sure that our Order continues to grow and thrive we need to constantly prepare our members for leadership roles. This Seminar provided a format for Local, State and National Officers in our organization to educate our future leaders on the rules, regulations and protocols that they need to be familiar with.”

“The goal of the seminar was to familiarize newer Hibernians with our leadership and organization, to provide a better understanding of our Order and to encourage recruitment and retention by sharing successful efforts and methods.” stated Dan Dennehy.  He added “I believe that the seminar achieved greater than anticipated success, highlighted aspects of our Order that further focused on and that the social aspect of the day definitely benefited all those in attendance.”

Food and refreshment were provided by President Aidan O’Kelly Lynch, Div 18 and the officers and members of the host Division – Westchester County Division 18, Peekskill. Visiting Hibernians admired the hall, which boasted relics from the Division including a poster from an 1898 boat ride sponsored by the local AOH. Those early Hibernians, many of whom were Irish immigrants, built the building and inscribed their names in the bricks outside on July 4, 1876.

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In Convention

The 2010 – 2012 officers pictured (L to R) are seated – Seamus Boyle, president; Father Tom O’Donnell, chaplain; Brendan Moore, vice president. Standing – Tom McNabb, secretary; directors Keith Carney, Mike O’Connor, Chris Norris, Danny O’Connell, Jere Cole, and Bob Mott (Len Byrne stands in for Bob); and Jim McKay treasurer.

The 95th Biennial National Convention of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America gaveled in on the 7th of July and concluded on the evening of Saturday the 10th with celebratory installation dinner of newly-elected officers. This year’s convention featured prominent speakers and visitors from Ireland and the U.S. and featured tremendous breakout sessions including live video teleconference to Belfast via the Internet in a combined Immigration and FFAI report.  Attending members of the men and ladies, numbering nearly one thousand in total, were inspired by moving homilies and historic news of a positive report on the Bloody Sunday official report.

Irish Ambassador to America, Michael Collins, came from Washington to address the gathering.  He mentioned that the economy in Ireland was growing and that U.S. investment in Ireland was vital.  Ambassador Collins spoke of the ongoing efforts to better immigration policies and to bring the undocumented Irish living in America out of the shadows and give them a path to legalization and U.S. citizenship. One direct immigration policy effort on the part of the Irish government is their push for more E3 Visas that are designed to allow for greater entry into both the U.S. and Ireland.  He also discussed his government’s efforts to connect with the 40 million Irish Americans and encouraged all Hibernians to come “home” and visit Ireland.

Also addressing the Hibernians was Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuiness. “I thank all the members of the AOH and LAOH down through the years. We share a single object of Irish reunification but by purely peaceful and democratic means. I am pound of the AOH, the LAOH and the bulk of Irish America.”

He addressed the recent apology from the British Prime Minister that acknowledged those who died on ‘Bloody Sunday’ were murdered by the British Army. However,   McGuiness said he recognizes and sympathizes with the loss endured by Unionists and others, in other communities, due to the actions of Irish Republicans. “We have all suffered grievous loss and no one was exempt over that period. Commenting on the progress that has been made he said, “Through all this progress we are constantly aware of the fact that we have been accompanied by the AOH, the LAOH and our friends in Irish America, and the United States political establishment from Bill Clinton to George Bush to Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.”

The business of the convention included a number of resolutions passed and the elections of officers.  The AOH reaffirmed through a resolution to again proceed with an active Notre Dame fund.  Immigration has always been an important issue to the AOH. As a result, a resolution was passed that appoints an Immigration Chair at all levels of the Order, State and County Boards and on the Division level.  A dues increase of four dollars was approved by the body – the first national dues increase in over 25 years.

Attending the convention from the Board of Erin were President Jimbo Crossin and Trustees Gerry Harkin and Charles (We Charlie) McLaughlin.  To encourage “brother” relationships with Ireland’s Board of Erin, the Convention resolved to encourage the growth of the Order in Ireland. As a result, a resolution was presented that expresses the belief that the AOH in Ireland would greatly benefit by the support, love and assistance of their brothers in America. The resolution passed that encourages “brother’ relationships with corresponding jurisdictions with Ireland’s AOH Board of Erin.

The AOH historically has had more Divisions in the east, which has allowed for the election of Directors from that area. Because the South, Midwest and West are desirous of equal representation, the Convention resolved to appoint a committee to investigate the issue of under-representation in those aforementioned regions. It was resolved to appoint a committee to investigate the issue and present a solution at the next national convention. The measure passed.

Another resolution was referred to the Anti-Defamation Committee for further action. It petitioned the National Board to ask for the removal of Real Time with Bill Maher from HBO’s programming due to his consistent, insulting, anti-Catholic banter.

On Saturday evening the prestigious John F. Kennedy Memorial Award was presented to Siobhan Dennehy for her work on Immigration. The medal is a joint AOH-LAOH award given to “a Roman Catholic of Irish birth or descent outstanding in their field of endeavor.

Upon learning of the award Dennehy said she was “absolutely overwhelmed and amazed”. I had only heard of the award before and the magnitude of it; I could ever imagine to be nominated.”  Dennehy is a nationally-recognized leader on all issues related to Irish immigration. “There are an estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the U.S.,” she said.

The work of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, as well as all the Immigration Centers in the US continue to serve that cause on a daily basis. My pleasure in receiving the JFK Award is heightened by the fact that many centers are now such valued resource for the immigrant community.  She and her husband Dan are the parents of daughters Cara and Ashling.

“Emigration to America represents a new opportunity, and our people by and large, make good lives for themselves here.  For many, emigration is never an easy option; but it can be their only option.  We know that emigration presents some people with very particular difficulties; they can, for instance, find themselves adrift and marginalized.  The people who offer front-line assistance and advice services to the vulnerable Irish provide, therefore, a critically important support structure.”

Six National Director positions were up for grabs.  Elected were Danny O’Connell, Girard, OH; Robert J. Mott, Myrtle Beach, SC; Keith Carney, Washington, DC; Jere Cole, Rockaway Township, NJ; Mike O’Connor, Helena, MT and Christopher Norris, Williamsport, PA.

Unopposed for officer positions were National President Seamus Boyle, Philadelphia, PA; Vice President Brendan Moore, Blue Point, NY; Secretary Thomas D. McNabb, Auburn, NY and Treasurer James McKay, New Orleans, LA;

The 2012 convention will find the AOH and Ladies AOH convening at the Turning Stone Resort located just north of Syracuse, New York (www.turningstone.com).  It was also agreed that the 2014 convention will be held in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Siobhan Dennehy Awarded JFK Medal

Siobhan Dennehy, Executive Director of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, was the 2010 recipient of the JFK Medal at the AOH & LAOH National Convention in Cincinnati Ohio. She thanked the AOH/LAOH in these words:

I am so very glad indeed to be here this evening to accept this award.  And I am especially grateful to Brendan Moore his wife Eileen, Danny O’Connell and their team of colleagues for their invitation to be with you tonight. I know firsthand how much work goes into an event such as this and am truly impressed with the outstanding job everyone has in welcoming me and my family.

I want to thank my family my husband Dan in particular there is a saying that behind every great man there’s a great woman – well here it works in reverse thanks to Dan for being the great man supporting me! My mom Sheila is here tonight from Dublin and my daughters Cara and Ashling – thanks for all your help to make this moment my FPD [favorite part of the day].

I want to pay a particular tribute to the AOH and LAOH membership tonight; by recognizing me with this prestigious national award you have chosen to highlight me as a person for the work I do, the organizations I represent, the staff & board members who help me achieve the work I complete, the clients and community members who seek our help, my own family who work with me and the family who sacrifice much for me. Like many others of my generation I came to this county as a young university student, in my case from Trinity College, with a love of my heritage and culture and yet aware that Ireland’s economy then could not offer me a career opportunity.  In New York I discovered a thriving Irish American community which offered me limitless potential. In meeting Dan and his dad (DJ) I came to know the AOH and many of you and part of this award is being accepted in his memory

In receiving an award named for someone else, protocol would dictate that as the recipient you do a little research about that person …there are very few here I’m sure that would argue that John F Kennedy needs any introduction at all and we can agree that he and his family represent a very proud immigrant history.

When President Kennedy arrived at Dublin my home town just over 47 years ago, he expressed, the special pride which he felt in the generosity of the United States over the years to so many immigrants from so many different countries and he also noted on that historic visit to Ireland that everywhere, immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.

Emigration to America represents a new opportunity, and our people by and large, make good lives for themselves here.  For many, emigration is never an easy option; but it can be their only option.  We know that emigration presents some people with very particular difficulties; they can, for instance, find themselves adrift and marginalized.  The people who offer front-line assistance and advice services to the vulnerable Irish provide, therefore, a critically important support structure.  The work of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, as well as all the Immigration Centers in the US continue to serve that cause on a daily basis. My pleasure in receiving the JFK Award is heightened by the fact that many centers are now such valued resource for the immigrant community.

There is an expression in the Irish language about co-existence and the importance of community support: is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine – we exist in each other’s shelter.  The spirit of community service and consideration for others is exemplified by people who receive the JFK Award in the name of the AOH and LAOH.

In his address to the Dail and Senate in 1963 President Kennedy said: Across the gulfs and barriers that now divide us, we must remember that there are no permanent enemies. The context here was in the face of Anglo Irish relations but I ask you all to think about these words and apply them to the US’s immigration policy particularly in the aftermath of 9/11 and how that event has changed the face of US Immigration policy.

There are an estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the US; some argue that number might be too high; many of us in the context of the challenges facing the Irish ecomony at the moment believe that number is arguably higher.

The reason that they are here in that undocumented capacity is that there are honestly no other options open to them.  Since assuming the position of Executive Director EIIC in March of 2003 every year in politics has brought renewed debate on immigration reform and after seven years the challenges are growing immeasurably and we must as a society choose to look at changing the immigration policy in a humane and effective way.

I have been honored to assist the AOH many times in recent years and have received the assistance of many members for which I am grateful.  I look to continue to extend the use of our resources and look for the day when legal and secure paths to US immigration will allow future flows of Irish to enjoy the cultural exchange and love for two countries which we all share here tonight.

We have some work to do on immigration reform and I appeal to you and your membership to continue to support on the matter of Immigration in this vision. President Kennedy wrote in 1958 in the book entitled A Nation of Immigrants.  And I quote, Immigration policy should be generous, it should be fair, it should be flexible; with such a policy we can turn to the world and to our own past with clean hands and a clear conscience.

In closing, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to you all from me as a mother of two daughters to be a female recipient of the JFK Medal Award that I am truly humbled and I assure you that it will inspire me to look for ways to do more for my adopted country going forward

Go raibh mile maith agaibh go leir

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Siobhan Dennehy to be Awarded John F. Kennedy Medal

The AOH and LAOH will award Siobhan Dennehy the prestigious John F. Kennedy Memorial Medal at the upcoming convention in Cincinnati being held in July.  Dennehy is a nationally-recognized leader on all issues related to Irish immigration. A native of Dalkey, County Dublin, she first visited New York in the late 1980s on a J1 student visa. She joined the Irish grassroots effort called the Irish Immigration Reform Movement (IIRM) and volunteered for the Woodlawn Chapter. They were successful in their contribution to the establishment of the Donnelly-Morrison Visas and the DV Lottery.

“Members of both the AOH and LAOH National Boards, as well as State Presidents of both organizations, selected her based on nominations received from throughout the U.S.”, said Brendan Moore, JFK Chairman/AOH National Vice President. “It’s a joint AOH-LAOH award given to a Roman Catholic of Irish birth or descent, outstanding in their field of endeavor.” Margaret Hennessy, JFK Vice Chair/LAOH National Vice President, said the Medal is the highest honor the AOH and LAOH bestow and only thirty have been awarded since its inception in 1966. “Past recipients have been Colonel James McDivitt, U.S.A.F. Astronaut of Gemini IV and Apollo IX, Actor Pat O’Brien, Mayors Richard J. Daley of Chicago and  Raymond L. Flynn of Boston, His Eminence John Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York, Nobel Prize winner John Hume among many other prominent Irish and other Irish-American dignitaries”, she said.

Dennehy currently serves as Executive Director of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center (EIIC), a non-profit, community-based organization serving thousands of New York City Irish immigrants, as well as immigrants of all nationalities. She has provided invaluable assistance to the AOH towards their constitutional mandate “to encourage an equitable U.S. immigration law for Ireland, and cooperate with groups for a fair American immigration policy.” She has provided the AOH National Immigration Committee with assistance daily by sharing her contacts, initiatives and knowledge of the immigration rules and regulations. At a time when Irish immigration demands AOH attention, honoring Siobhan serves to magnify the AOH/LAOH commitment to the goals of the Order.

Dennehy resides in Cortlandt Manor, New York with her husband Dan and daughters Ashling, age 9 and Cara, age 8. Her husband Dan is the New York State AOH Immigration Chair.

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