AOH Celebrates 175

It was a truly historic weekend as members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and their friends gathered in New York to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Order.  Although it wasn’t until 1853 that the name Ancient Order of Hibernians was officially adopted, the organization grew out of a fusion of fraternal societies from Pennsylvania and New York which met in 1836 near Old St. James Church on James Street, later renamed AOH Way for the 150th Anniversary of the Order.  It is from that point that the AOH dates its origin.

The weekend began with the hospitality of Ireland’s Consul General to New York, Noel Kilkenny and his lovely wife, Honora, at their rooftop residence in mid-town Manhattan overlooking Robert Moses Park and the East River.  As traditional musicians, Scott Mattey, Stephen Gara, Donie Carrol and Jimmy O’Neill provided lively Irish tunes, an endless parade of hors d’ouvres and canopes paraded through the assembled guests – a literal who’s who of Irish America – gathered to congratulate the AOH on its milestone.  As the sun set over a breathtaking view of Manhattan’s lights emerging like an earthly constellation, AOH Div 7 invited all to a buffet dinner sponsored by the New York County Board at their nearby local ‘The Black Sheep Pub and Restaurant’ where the gaiety went on. Irish Counsel General in New York  Noel Kilkenny It is a huge honor for me to join you in celebrating 175 years of service to Ireland, Irish America, and your communities.  I have seen the work you do and read about your York history. And now you are celebrating 175 years of what you have done for the Irish.  The Irish in the past when things weren’t easy – in fact when it as very dangerous to be Irish here in this city and right across this country.  It is an occasion to celebrate that, to celebrate what you have achieved.  And you have achieved so much.  What about today? As I travel around I see the AOH in action today and yesterday, and please God tomorrow – not only in your Divisions but in almost every facet of Irish life in this city, Irish) I have found AOH members at the center of it:  they have founding it they have funded it, they have supported it, they have volunteered in it.  So as an organization you have a glorious past, but you also have a great presence… But what of tomorrow Hibernians? What of next year? What of 30 years from now? He added,         Kilkenny called on Hibernians to plan for the next 175 years. You are the largest Irish organization in this country – you are coast to coast – you are in every city, in every community. future of the Hibernians is not the bloodline from Ireland but is the children and grandchildren of our members. He called on the AOH to hare with them your history engage them in your communities, encourage them to join divisions and to have to play their part in Irish America and to think to the future.  The Irish government is here and we want you to re-engage in Ireland.

On Saturday morning, the gates of the city opened wide to receive hundreds of Hibernian men and women from as far away as Pittsburgh, Rhode Island and New Orleans and they formed up on Mulberry Street, just north of  the infamous Mulberry Bend.  The Bend was one of the worst parts of the old Five Points neighborhood in which arriving Irish immigrants were forced to live in the 1840s and 50s with many notorious back alleys like Bandit’s Roost, Bottle Alley and Ragpicker’s Row.  The Bend is gone now, replaced by Mulberry Bend Park and so are the Irish who were forced to live there in more biased times.  Just as the Irish marched out of the Five Points into American prosperity, the AOH paraded north on Mulberry Street to the church that has become the icon of the Irish experience in New York – the Basilica of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral – accompanied by four Hibernian Pipe Bands: Tara Pipes and Drums, Siol na hEireann, Glor na Gael and Orange County AOH Pipe Band.

Back in 1844, when Archbishop Hughes had called on the fledgling AOH to protect his church from a nativist threat, armed Hibernians lined the street in front of the Cathedral; on this day Hibernians again lined the street in front of the Cathedral, but this time it was Hibernian Pipe Bands and they were armed with pipes and drums; the massed band performance they provided would have made Archbishop Hughes proud.  The Mass in honor of the AOH milestone con-celebrated by the Pastor Monsignor Sakano, AOH National and Deputy National Chaplains, O’Donnell and Reid, and several AOH Chaplains and sung by the Hibernian Festival Singers.

Father O’Donnell’s homily read like a history lesson drawing in this wonderful spiritualism into the hearts of those gathered. The 175 year history of the AOH is intimately connected to the history of Old St Patrick’s Basilica. If it were not for the Irish and the Ancient Order of Hibernians the other historic events of this church may not have been possible.  In the 1830s there was a great deal of anti-catholic and anti-immigrant sentiment.  The need to defend the Cathedral against mob violence was not uncommon.  The “Know Nothing Party” organized Protestants to march against the Cathedral. Mobs and vigilante groups shouted anti-catholic epitaphs threatened the Cathedral and vowed to burn the Cathedral to the ground.  At this point Archbishop Hughes enlisted the Irish and in particular the Ancient Order of Hibernians to surround the walls of the Cathedral and safeguard the church. Then Archbishop Hughes wrote to the New York Mayor and told him, “Should one Catholic come to harm, or should one business be molested, we shall turn this city into a second Moscow.”  Although the AOH was able to save the Cathedral, they were not able to prevent the anti-papist mob who stoned the beautiful stained glass windows of both the church and the Bishops residence.  For 175 years the Ancient Order of Hibernians has continued to defend the church and its priests during times of both peace and turbulence.

Just as all of us who make up the Body of Christ give life to the bricks, stone, wood and steel of a church, likewise, the Ancient Order of Hibernians is more than just the AOH logo on a division building or the AOH emblem on the top of stationary.  Just as we are the living and breathing members of the Church so we must give live to our Hibernian virtues of Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity.  As members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians when we perform the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in our everyday lives, we are Christ to others. We are Christ when we protect the dignity of Human life from the first moment of conception until the time when our heavenly Father summons us to the Eternal Kingdom.  We are Christ to the world when we provide clothing for the homeless, provide meals for the hungry, and work at food banks so that poor families may have some nourishing meals.  We are Chris when we support the various Hibernian Charities not only by our material donations but by the gift of ourselves.  We are Christ when we fight for fair immigration laws not only for the Irish immigrants but for every immigrant who legally wishes to pursue freedom and the American dream.  We are Christ when we support seminarians and novices through Project St. Patrick and enable these men and women to pursue their vocations.  We are Christ when we provide scholarship funds for deserving students who wish to pursue their academic dreams.  We are Christ when we continue to fight for a free and independent Ireland so that perhaps by the centennial of the Easter Rising in 2016 we will have a united, free and independent Ireland.

As Hibernians we are alive, we are grateful for the glorious years of our past, but we must continue to be active in the present and be dynamically committed to the future because years from now we need future Hibernians to look back on us with the same aw with which we have looked back at 175 years of faithful and committed people.

The Mass was sung by the Hibernian Festival Choir under the direction of Maura Allen. This choir has performed at the White House and at many venues in Ireland, Canada and the U.S. and has always added to the solemnity of the liturgy. Ancient Order of Hibernians members were ushers and deacons who along with the altar servers under the guidance of a committee headed by past national director Martin Kelly of Brooklyn. Gifts presented by member Hibernians during the Mass included bread and wine, and in addition, a stature of St. Patrick, flags of the United States and Ireland, turf and potatoes, a model ship, and a Celtic cross.

After Mass, Monsignor Sakano invited all in attendance to a feast in the activities yard of the adjacent St. Patrick’s School where traditional music, food and beverage were plentiful and awards were presented to those responsible for the celebration. Hundreds of Hibernians and guests packed the old schools courtyard for food and drink and craic.  All were entertained by the band Celtic Justice and individual performers that included fiddler Scott Mettey and others.  The reception will be chaired by Sir Patrick Allen, a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and a brother Hibernian. Awards that included special plaques with bricks from the original church wall built by the original Hibernians were presented to the committee members who prganized the celebration.

Sunday morning dawned with the men and ladies of the AOH making their way to the tip of Manhattan and the oldest parish church in New York – St. Peter’ Church where a Mass was celebrated in memory of those AOH members and other victims of the cowardly attack on the World Trade Center right next door to the church.  After the Mass, a wreath was laid at the steel I-beam which remained standing amid the carnage in the shape of a cross and which has become an icon of faith and determination to recover.  It stands adjacent to St. Peter’s Church which is where Father Mychal Judge was carried after he was killed administering to the victims.

The day concluded with a visit to the Great Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City as part of the AOH New York remembrance of the International Hunger Memorial Commemoration.  As ceremonies took place all over the world in May to the memory of those victims of An Gorta Mor, the AOH National Board laid a wreath to the memory of the victims of that tragedy at the impressive memorial at New York Harbor.

 

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AOH Celebrates 175

It was a truly historic weekend as members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and their friends gathered in New York to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Order.  Although it wasn’t until 1853 that the name Ancient Order of Hibernians was officially adopted, the organization grew out of a fusion of fraternal societies from Pennsylvania and New York which met in 1836 near Old St. James Church on James Street, later renamed AOH Way for the 150th Anniversary of the Order.  It is from that point that the AOH dates its origin.

The weekend began with the hospitality of Ireland’s Consul General to New York, Noel Kilkenny and his lovely wife, Honora, at their rooftop residence in mid-town Manhattan overlooking Robert Moses Park and the East River.  As traditional musicians, Scott Mattey, Stephen Gara, Donie Carrol and Jimmy O’Neill provided lively Irish tunes, an endless parade of hors d’ouvres and canopes paraded through the assembled guests – a literal who’s who of Irish America – gathered to congratulate the AOH on its milestone.  As the sun set over a breathtaking view of Manhattan’s lights emerging like an earthly constellation, AOH Div 7 invited all to a buffet dinner sponsored by the New York County Board at their nearby local ‘The Black Sheep Pub and Restaurant’ where the gaiety went on. Irish Counsel General in New York  Noel Kilkenny It is a huge honor for me to join you in celebrating 175 years of service to Ireland, Irish America, and your communities.  I have seen the work you do and read about your York history. And now you are celebrating 175 years of what you have done for the Irish.  The Irish in the past when things weren’t easy – in fact when it as very dangerous to be Irish here in this city and right across this country.  It is an occasion to celebrate that, to celebrate what you have achieved.  And you have achieved so much.  What about today? As I travel around I see the AOH in action today and yesterday, and please God tomorrow – not only in your Divisions but in almost every facet of Irish life in this city, Irish) I have found AOH members at the center of it:  they have founding it they have funded it, they have supported it, they have volunteered in it.  So as an organization you have a glorious past, but you also have a great presence… But what of tomorrow Hibernians? What of next year? What of 30 years from now? He added,         Kilkenny called on Hibernians to plan for the next 175 years. You are the largest Irish organization in this country – you are coast to coast – you are in every city, in every community. future of the Hibernians is not the bloodline from Ireland but is the children and grandchildren of our members. He called on the AOH to hare with them your history engage them in your communities, encourage them to join divisions and to have to play their part in Irish America and to think to the future.  The Irish government is here and we want you to re-engage in Ireland.

On Saturday morning, the gates of the city opened wide to receive hundreds of Hibernian men and women from as far away as Pittsburgh, Rhode Island and New Orleans and they formed up on Mulberry Street, just north of  the infamous Mulberry Bend.  The Bend was one of the worst parts of the old Five Points neighborhood in which arriving Irish immigrants were forced to live in the 1840s and 50s with many notorious back alleys like Bandit’s Roost, Bottle Alley and Ragpicker’s Row.  The Bend is gone now, replaced by Mulberry Bend Park and so are the Irish who were forced to live there in more biased times.  Just as the Irish marched out of the Five Points into American prosperity, the AOH paraded north on Mulberry Street to the church that has become the icon of the Irish experience in New York – the Basilica of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral – accompanied by four Hibernian Pipe Bands: Tara Pipes and Drums, Siol na hEireann, Glor na Gael and Orange County AOH Pipe Band.

Back in 1844, when Archbishop Hughes had called on the fledgling AOH to protect his church from a nativist threat, armed Hibernians lined the street in front of the Cathedral; on this day Hibernians again lined the street in front of the Cathedral, but this time it was Hibernian Pipe Bands and they were armed with pipes and drums; the massed band performance they provided would have made Archbishop Hughes proud.  The Mass in honor of the AOH milestone con-celebrated by the Pastor Monsignor Sakano, AOH National and Deputy National Chaplains, O’Donnell and Reid, and several AOH Chaplains and sung by the Hibernian Festival Singers.

Father O’Donnell’s homily read like a history lesson drawing in this wonderful spiritualism into the hearts of those gathered. The 175 year history of the AOH is intimately connected to the history of Old St Patrick’s Basilica. If it were not for the Irish and the Ancient Order of Hibernians the other historic events of this church may not have been possible.  In the 1830s there was a great deal of anti-catholic and anti-immigrant sentiment.  The need to defend the Cathedral against mob violence was not uncommon.  The “Know Nothing Party” organized Protestants to march against the Cathedral. Mobs and vigilante groups shouted anti-catholic epitaphs threatened the Cathedral and vowed to burn the Cathedral to the ground.  At this point Archbishop Hughes enlisted the Irish and in particular the Ancient Order of Hibernians to surround the walls of the Cathedral and safeguard the church. Then Archbishop Hughes wrote to the New York Mayor and told him, “Should one Catholic come to harm, or should one business be molested, we shall turn this city into a second Moscow.”  Although the AOH was able to save the Cathedral, they were not able to prevent the anti-papist mob who stoned the beautiful stained glass windows of both the church and the Bishops residence.  For 175 years the Ancient Order of Hibernians has continued to defend the church and its priests during times of both peace and turbulence.

Just as all of us who make up the Body of Christ give life to the bricks, stone, wood and steel of a church, likewise, the Ancient Order of Hibernians is more than just the AOH logo on a division building or the AOH emblem on the top of stationary.  Just as we are the living and breathing members of the Church so we must give live to our Hibernian virtues of Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity.  As members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians when we perform the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in our everyday lives, we are Christ to others. We are Christ when we protect the dignity of Human life from the first moment of conception until the time when our heavenly Father summons us to the Eternal Kingdom.  We are Christ to the world when we provide clothing for the homeless, provide meals for the hungry, and work at food banks so that poor families may have some nourishing meals.  We are Chris when we support the various Hibernian Charities not only by our material donations but by the gift of ourselves.  We are Christ when we fight for fair immigration laws not only for the Irish immigrants but for every immigrant who legally wishes to pursue freedom and the American dream.  We are Christ when we support seminarians and novices through Project St. Patrick and enable these men and women to pursue their vocations.  We are Christ when we provide scholarship funds for deserving students who wish to pursue their academic dreams.  We are Christ when we continue to fight for a free and independent Ireland so that perhaps by the centennial of the Easter Rising in 2016 we will have a united, free and independent Ireland.

As Hibernians we are alive, we are grateful for the glorious years of our past, but we must continue to be active in the present and be dynamically committed to the future because years from now we need future Hibernians to look back on us with the same aw with which we have looked back at 175 years of faithful and committed people.

The Mass was sung by the Hibernian Festival Choir under the direction of Maura Allen. This choir has performed at the White House and at many venues in Ireland, Canada and the U.S. and has always added to the solemnity of the liturgy. Ancient Order of Hibernians members were ushers and deacons who along with the altar servers under the guidance of a committee headed by past national director Martin Kelly of Brooklyn. Gifts presented by member Hibernians during the Mass included bread and wine, and in addition, a stature of St. Patrick, flags of the United States and Ireland, turf and potatoes, a model ship, and a Celtic cross.

After Mass, Monsignor Sakano invited all in attendance to a feast in the activities yard of the adjacent St. Patrick’s School where traditional music, food and beverage were plentiful and awards were presented to those responsible for the celebration. Hundreds of Hibernians and guests packed the old schools courtyard for food and drink and craic.  All were entertained by the band Celtic Justice and individual performers that included fiddler Scott Mettey and others.  The reception will be chaired by Sir Patrick Allen, a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and a brother Hibernian. Awards that included special plaques with bricks from the original church wall built by the original Hibernians were presented to the committee members who prganized the celebration.

Sunday morning dawned with the men and ladies of the AOH making their way to the tip of Manhattan and the oldest parish church in New York – St. Peter’ Church where a Mass was celebrated in memory of those AOH members and other victims of the cowardly attack on the World Trade Center right next door to the church.  After the Mass, a wreath was laid at the steel I-beam which remained standing amid the carnage in the shape of a cross and which has become an icon of faith and determination to recover.  It stands adjacent to St. Peter’s Church which is where Father Mychal Judge was carried after he was killed administering to the victims.

The day concluded with a visit to the Great Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City as part of the AOH New York remembrance of the International Hunger Memorial Commemoration.  As ceremonies took place all over the world in May to the memory of those victims of An Gorta Mor, the AOH National Board laid a wreath to the memory of the victims of that tragedy at the impressive memorial at New York Harbor.

 

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New York News

The Easter Rising Remembered on Long Island

By Joe McDonald

 

On April 25th, more than 150 people attended the annual Easter Rising memorial service in Mineola, NY. At a location behind the courthouse, stands the now completed Irish memorial, a testament to those who gave their lives for Ireland’s freedom in the early 20th Century. Sponsored by the Irish Monument Committee each Easter Monday, the one hour ceremony allows all those present to remember the martyrs of 1916.

The committee is comprised of various Irish organizations including the Nassau County Board of the Ancient order of Hibernians, the Nassau Police Emerald Society, the Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk and Queens, the Irish Culture Society of Garden City, Irish Northern Aid, The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, and the Irish Americans in Government.

“It’s important to have this ceremony”, said Nassau County AOH Freedom For All Ireland Chairman Vic Sackett, “because after 800 years of oppression by the British, Irish leaders who knew very well what freedom was, had the courage to plan and train an uprising to would have some chance of success.  Although the rising was not successful, within two years, it rallied the Irish population to elect their own representatives and government, which then declared the 32 County Republic in 1919.”

This year’s ceremony, which was headed by the Police Emerald Society, included remarks from Consul General of Ireland Noel Kilkenny, and Leitrim County Councilor Martin Kenny. Kilkenny spoke about those who died in the Easter Rising and why it is important for people to believe in freedom and independence, while Kenny remarked about the culture of Ireland and how it is not a Catholic Protestant rivalry, but the mentality of peasants vs. planters.  “And the Irish people rose above the peasant mentality to become something more,” he remarked. “Now the planters need to change their way of thinking, for Ireland to become the great county it can be.”

The monument has been located behind the Nassau County Court House since 1979, albeit unfinished. Recently, Irish groups throughout Long island decided to complete and renovate the project. Two years ago the top was put on the monument, a harp with 32 strings representing the 32 counties and the names of 15 who died on the base. Last year, flowers, lights and a walkway were added and to finish it off benches will be installed and the plaques will be placed back onto the memorial.

The memorial concluded with a laying of a wreath at the monument.  “It’s rather unique that the Easter Rising is remembered on public ground in the United States,” said AOH Brother Robert Lynch. “I can’t think of any other place in America that has something dedicated to such an important event.”

Color Guard at the Easter Rising Memorial. Photo by Jim Henry

Div. 11 Hicksville marches proudly in the NYC Parade

The Mohawk Valley Irish Cultural Center will be built in Utica, NY

by John E. Fox

 

The Mohawk Valley Irish Cultural Center will be built in West Utica following discussions with city leaders, Great American Irish Festival Inc. organizers said. An Irish cultural center not only would be a benefit to West Utica’s Brewery District, but it bodes well for the entire city, Mayor David Roefaro said.  “It’s a win-win for everybody,” Roefaro said. “That piece of property is passionate to the Irish,” he said of the parking lot at Cooper and Columbia streets, where the former St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church was founded in the 1850s. The $2 million project — funded almost exclusively from proceeds of the Great American Irish Festival — will yield a two-story building with an authentic Irish pub, kitchen, meeting rooms and office space. Matthew Sullivan, director of the festival, will serve as executive director of the center. A variety of Irish organizations, including the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, will make use of the space, Sullivan said. Construction of the 2-story multi-purpose, 10,000 square foot facility will include, a full basement, a banquet hall that will be able to accommodate about 300 people, a full commercial kitchen, an authentic Irish Pub, a cultural room, a meeting room as well as office spaces. Construction of the building will begin, “as soon as the weather will allow,” Sullivan said, adding that “We wanted this to be an investment in the hub of downtown and we wanted to be part of Varick Street, with the brewery,” A groundbreaking ceremony emceed by Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks and attended by about 150 people was held at 623 Columbia St. was held Thursday, St. Patrick’s Day.  Brooks commended Sullivan for his efforts and joked about the fallacy of the phrase, “the luck of the Irish.”  “The Irish got where we are by hard work and fighting for what we believe in,” he said. The center site was once home to the first Irish Catholic parish in the city, St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, which was founded in the 1850s but disbanded and later demolished in the 1960s. “This site is sacred ground for the Irish community,” Sullivan said. The plan has been through the city zoning and planning boards and has gained all necessary approvals Sullivan said. The entity that will run the center will be a non-profit, registered with the State Education Department as a Historical Society with Collections. The Irish pub will be open to the public and should be part of the Varick Street bar scene. Sullivan first began working on the project in 2003 through his involvement with the AOH, Brooks told the gathered crowd. Though some of the money came from other sources, both Sullivan and Brooks said no government money is involved. The ceremony also included several prayers from local priests, bagpipe tunes, the Irish and American national anthems and Irish ballads. Shortly after a procession down Varick Street, a robust party was held at the Celtic Harp.

The Honorable Michael Dwyer named Grand Marshal

by John E. Fox

Judge Michael Dwyer

Oneida County Court Judge Michael Dwyer was named as the grand marshal for Utica’s (NY) 2011 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, said Kevin Dowling, the parade director. Dwyer is a “standup” person who is very deserving of being named grand marshal and has a difficult job as county court judge, “He works very hard for this community,” Dowling said. Dwyer said there are many others who deserve the honor just as much or more than he does. “I am very proud, and also very humbled,” Dwyer said. 141 groups turned out for the annual parade down Genesee Street this year, according to event director Kevin Dowling. Other participants included seven bagpipe bands, nine or ten additional musical groups and a plethora of service organizations – all of which made their way from Oneida Square to Columbia Street.

“This is the third largest parade in the state behind New York City and Buffalo,” Dowling said. “Last year, we counted about 2,000 people marching in the parade. With 33 more units that entered this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got up to 2,500.” Many say for them the parade is a way to honor their ancestors by remembering Irish traditions and traditional music.

“I see the pride in being Irish; just being Irish you know, having it in your blood, but it represents the day and the spirit and the holiday,” said parade attendee Michael Collins.

Parade goers say the event wasn’t just about celebrating their heritage, but also about recognizing some important members of the community. It was a chance for local organizations — from emergency squads to food banks — to shine. Dowling, and other parade organizers, said the parade remains a community-oriented event, where rowdier celebrators mix with families and children – and where everyone has a good time. “The key theme that we try to stress is respect,” Dowling said. “Everyone is respectful of each other and we have a good time.”

New York News

The Easter Rising Remembered on Long Island

By Joe McDonald

 

On April 25th, more than 150 people attended the annual Easter Rising memorial service in Mineola, NY. At a location behind the courthouse, stands the now completed Irish memorial, a testament to those who gave their lives for Ireland’s freedom in the early 20th Century. Sponsored by the Irish Monument Committee each Easter Monday, the one hour ceremony allows all those present to remember the martyrs of 1916.

The committee is comprised of various Irish organizations including the Nassau County Board of the Ancient order of Hibernians, the Nassau Police Emerald Society, the Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk and Queens, the Irish Culture Society of Garden City, Irish Northern Aid, The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, and the Irish Americans in Government.

“It’s important to have this ceremony”, said Nassau County AOH Freedom For All Ireland Chairman Vic Sackett, “because after 800 years of oppression by the British, Irish leaders who knew very well what freedom was, had the courage to plan and train an uprising to would have some chance of success.  Although the rising was not successful, within two years, it rallied the Irish population to elect their own representatives and government, which then declared the 32 County Republic in 1919.”

This year’s ceremony, which was headed by the Police Emerald Society, included remarks from Consul General of Ireland Noel Kilkenny, and Leitrim County Councilor Martin Kenny. Kilkenny spoke about those who died in the Easter Rising and why it is important for people to believe in freedom and independence, while Kenny remarked about the culture of Ireland and how it is not a Catholic Protestant rivalry, but the mentality of peasants vs. planters.  “And the Irish people rose above the peasant mentality to become something more,” he remarked. “Now the planters need to change their way of thinking, for Ireland to become the great county it can be.”

The monument has been located behind the Nassau County Court House since 1979, albeit unfinished. Recently, Irish groups throughout Long island decided to complete and renovate the project. Two years ago the top was put on the monument, a harp with 32 strings representing the 32 counties and the names of 15 who died on the base. Last year, flowers, lights and a walkway were added and to finish it off benches will be installed and the plaques will be placed back onto the memorial.

The memorial concluded with a laying of a wreath at the monument.  “It’s rather unique that the Easter Rising is remembered on public ground in the United States,” said AOH Brother Robert Lynch. “I can’t think of any other place in America that has something dedicated to such an important event.”

Color Guard at the Easter Rising Memorial. Photo by Jim Henry

Div. 11 Hicksville marches proudly in the NYC Parade

The Mohawk Valley Irish Cultural Center will be built in Utica, NY

by John E. Fox

 

The Mohawk Valley Irish Cultural Center will be built in West Utica following discussions with city leaders, Great American Irish Festival Inc. organizers said. An Irish cultural center not only would be a benefit to West Utica’s Brewery District, but it bodes well for the entire city, Mayor David Roefaro said.  “It’s a win-win for everybody,” Roefaro said. “That piece of property is passionate to the Irish,” he said of the parking lot at Cooper and Columbia streets, where the former St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church was founded in the 1850s. The $2 million project — funded almost exclusively from proceeds of the Great American Irish Festival — will yield a two-story building with an authentic Irish pub, kitchen, meeting rooms and office space. Matthew Sullivan, director of the festival, will serve as executive director of the center. A variety of Irish organizations, including the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, will make use of the space, Sullivan said. Construction of the 2-story multi-purpose, 10,000 square foot facility will include, a full basement, a banquet hall that will be able to accommodate about 300 people, a full commercial kitchen, an authentic Irish Pub, a cultural room, a meeting room as well as office spaces. Construction of the building will begin, “as soon as the weather will allow,” Sullivan said, adding that “We wanted this to be an investment in the hub of downtown and we wanted to be part of Varick Street, with the brewery,” A groundbreaking ceremony emceed by Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks and attended by about 150 people was held at 623 Columbia St. was held Thursday, St. Patrick’s Day.  Brooks commended Sullivan for his efforts and joked about the fallacy of the phrase, “the luck of the Irish.”  “The Irish got where we are by hard work and fighting for what we believe in,” he said. The center site was once home to the first Irish Catholic parish in the city, St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, which was founded in the 1850s but disbanded and later demolished in the 1960s. “This site is sacred ground for the Irish community,” Sullivan said. The plan has been through the city zoning and planning boards and has gained all necessary approvals Sullivan said. The entity that will run the center will be a non-profit, registered with the State Education Department as a Historical Society with Collections. The Irish pub will be open to the public and should be part of the Varick Street bar scene. Sullivan first began working on the project in 2003 through his involvement with the AOH, Brooks told the gathered crowd. Though some of the money came from other sources, both Sullivan and Brooks said no government money is involved. The ceremony also included several prayers from local priests, bagpipe tunes, the Irish and American national anthems and Irish ballads. Shortly after a procession down Varick Street, a robust party was held at the Celtic Harp.

The Honorable Michael Dwyer named Grand Marshal

by John E. Fox

Judge Michael Dwyer

Oneida County Court Judge Michael Dwyer was named as the grand marshal for Utica’s (NY) 2011 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, said Kevin Dowling, the parade director. Dwyer is a “standup” person who is very deserving of being named grand marshal and has a difficult job as county court judge, “He works very hard for this community,” Dowling said. Dwyer said there are many others who deserve the honor just as much or more than he does. “I am very proud, and also very humbled,” Dwyer said. 141 groups turned out for the annual parade down Genesee Street this year, according to event director Kevin Dowling. Other participants included seven bagpipe bands, nine or ten additional musical groups and a plethora of service organizations – all of which made their way from Oneida Square to Columbia Street.

“This is the third largest parade in the state behind New York City and Buffalo,” Dowling said. “Last year, we counted about 2,000 people marching in the parade. With 33 more units that entered this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got up to 2,500.” Many say for them the parade is a way to honor their ancestors by remembering Irish traditions and traditional music.

“I see the pride in being Irish; just being Irish you know, having it in your blood, but it represents the day and the spirit and the holiday,” said parade attendee Michael Collins.

Parade goers say the event wasn’t just about celebrating their heritage, but also about recognizing some important members of the community. It was a chance for local organizations — from emergency squads to food banks — to shine. Dowling, and other parade organizers, said the parade remains a community-oriented event, where rowdier celebrators mix with families and children – and where everyone has a good time. “The key theme that we try to stress is respect,” Dowling said. “Everyone is respectful of each other and we have a good time.”

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Michael Collins

I’m absolutely delighted to be here today at the 2010 Biennial National Conference of the AOH and the LAOH.  I want to thank your National President and our good friend Seamus Boyle for inviting me here.  Our Consul General in Chicago will also be with you during these days.  I would like also to salute and acknowledge the presence of deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Despite its long history and early beginnings, the Ancient Order of Hibernians is an integral part of Irish America.  Although the challenges we face are new and ever changing, the Order has an importance today just as it had 174 years ago.  The roots of this organisation can be traced back to some of the darkest hours in Irish history – A time when freedom was more an idea than a reality.  Today our country is at peace and our fortunes greatly improved, but the work of this Order goes on, particular on this side of the Atlantic.

We salute you for your commitment and support of Ireland.  I particularly applaud the solidarity of the AOH with the Bloody Sunday families.  You have long supported the families and survivors of Bloody Sunday and rightfully share in their joy that those who died and were injured were innocent. The Saville Report on 15 June makes clear that the shootings by the British Army that day were “unjustified and unjustifiable”. Thus, for the families and after 38 years, the gaping wound of the injustice wrought by the Widgery Report was healed.

AOH involvement in education programs to ensure a greater appreciation of Ireland’s National heritage is a welcome priority. I was delighted to present at the awards last year at the National History Day.

The Good Friday Agreement is the bedrock of the precious peace that Ireland enjoys today.  Its great strength derives from its endorsement by the people North and South.  The recent election results in Northern Ireland were a ringing endorsement for those wanting to work together in the devolved institutions for the benefit of all the people.  We now have a unique opportunity to build sustained peace and prosperity on the island of Ireland. Today, Northern Ireland enjoys partnership Government and the various institutional structures of the Agreement are all in effect.

There has been a transformation of relations on the island of Ireland and also between Britain and Ireland.  The Taoiseach met with Prime Minister Cameron on 23 June at which the PM confirmed that the British Government was fully committed to the Good Friday Agreement.  Just last Monday there was a meeting in Dublin of the North South Ministerial Council chaired by the Taoiseach and the First and deputy First Minister. The Council is a vital part of the Good Friday Agreement architecture and provides the forum for Ministerial colleagues from North and South to address the key issues of the moment. And on Monday obviously the economic challenges that we all face were centre stage.

The devolution of Policing and Justice earlier this year marks an important milestone in fulfilling the full vision of the Good Friday Agreement. Ten years on from the Patten Report the responsibility and authority for policing and justice are now where they ought to be – at local level, accountable to and operating for the benefit of all the community.

There remain those who refuse to accept the will of the people. We deplore the acts of these dissidents and we are committed North and South to defeating them.  The work of reconciliation is a generational task. I welcome the ongoing support of the U.S. in helping us to underpin peace in Ireland, including through the International Fund for Ireland.

It will come as no surprise to many of you that Ireland has challenges of its own right now. Ireland, like most countries, has gone through a period of economic turbulence. However, the Government has taken the hard decisions necessary to deal with the effects of the global economic and financial crisis by stabilising our public finances, repairing our banking system and cutting costs to boost competitiveness. We are pursuing a detailed and well-planned strategy to ensure our economic recovery into the future.  It is evident that we are living through tough and difficult times, but we are meeting challenges head on and we will emerge stronger than before.  The U.S. is a key economic partner and foreign direct investment from here is vital to our economy.  But our economic relationship is also now a two way one reflecting the increasing investment by Irish companies in the U.S.  The Farmleigh Global Irish Economic Forum last September was an important initiative of the Irish Government to engage with our global family in a new and modern way. It has proven to be very successful.  We have also been engaged in a strategic review of our relationship and last year published the result of that review entitled “Ireland and America – Challenges and Opportunities in a new context”.

We say this is the year to come home to Ireland.  Tourism from the U.S. is very important to us.  I welcome the comments made by President Obama last Thursday in which he called for renewed efforts in establishing comprehensive immigration reform. The President stated it was time to “squarely confront our challenges with honesty and determination”. I would like to acknowledge the work and support of the AOH in this area. It is very important for our undocumented that this issue is resolved.  It is also important for us that we secure future flows through what we call the E3 programme.

I want to thank the Ancient Order of Hibernians for their work and their friendship. In you we have a formidable partner, and with you at our side we know that Ireland, and its people, will continue to flourish both at home and abroad.

Thank you.

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Sir Roger Casement

Roger Casement was born in Antrim on September 1, 1864 to a Protestant father and a Catholic mother. At 17, he went to work for the Elder Dempster Shipping Company in Liverpool; three years later he was sent to west Africa. There he joined the British Colonial Service and was gradually advanced to a position in the British Consulate there. Always a fair and honorable man, he was horrified at the inhuman treatment of native workers in the Congo, and wrote a report exposing those conditions. The story was published, and when Casement returned to England in 1904 he was celebrated. In London he met Alice Green, a historian who denounced England’s exploitation of the Irish. Her argument impressed Casement and when he returned to Ireland he looked up her friends: Bulmer Hobson, Eoin MacNeill, and Erskine Childers. He soon became a confident of these men and other nationalists as well.

Casement’s diligent service earned him the post of Consul General at Rio de Janeiro, and he sailed off to assume that enviable post, but even there his sense of fair play was to guide his actions. He wrote a scathing report on the cruelties practiced by whites on native workers on the rubber plantations along the Putamayo river. It became an international sensation. He returned to England in 1911 and was Knighted for his public service. Casement retired from the Colonial Service in 1912 and returned to Ireland where his sense of fair play was again aroused – this time by the conditions of his own people under the rule of the Crown.

A man of strong nationalist sympathies, he joined the National Volunteers in 1913. When he visited London the following year, he was on a different mission – to arrange for the Irish Volunteers to bring 1500 Hamburg guns into Howth. History shows just how successful he was for many a man marched into Dublin on Easter Monday morning shouldering his old Howth gun. When more money was needed to secure more arms, Casement was sent to New York on July 4, 1914 to see John Devoy who had been raising funds for that purpose among the American Irish. While in America, World War I broke out, and he immediately contacted the German ambassador to America seeking aid to win Irish independence. On October 15, 1914 Casement sailed to Germany, carrying a small fortune to purchase more arms.

His persistence paid off and the Germans dispatched the ship AUD with a cargo of arms to be landed in Co Kerry; these arms were to be used in the rising planned for Easter Week, 1916. Casement followed in a submarine, landing on Banna Strand in Tralee Bay on Good Friday, April 21, 1916. Those who were to meet him there did not. A delay of 24 hours had been radioed to the AUD, but the ship’s radio was inoperative. The Gaelic American newspaper stated that American President Wilson knew of Casement’s intentions to land arms in Ireland and warned the British government. (New York Times, April 27, 1916, pp. 1 & 4.) The British, alerted to the plans, intercepted the message, and went instead to meet the bewildered Casement who decided to wait on the beach until his contacts arrived. He was captured, identified, and hurried away, a prisoner, to London. At the same time the AUD, disguised as a Norwegian timber ship, was stopped by a British patrol boat. Rather than submit, she was scuttled by her own crew as Casement was on his way to England to stand trial. Found guilty of high treason, he was sentenced to be hanged.

A world-wide furor erupted over the severity of the sentence. Here was a just man, recently praised and knighted by the Crown for his efforts on behalf of persecuted natives in far corners of the world, sentenced to death by that same Crown for daring to challenge the exploitation of his own downtrodden people. In an effort to reverse public opinion, the British government circulated copies of diaries alleged to be Casement’s, which recorded homosexual practices. Much controversy surrounded these Black Diaries, but they had the desired effect. The public furor died down, and Casement was hanged in Pentonville Prison on August 3, 1916 – the last of the Easter Executions.

For many years after the Irish government finally won its limited freedom from England, official requests were made to have Sir Roger’s remains returned to Ireland. It was not until 1965, that England finally relented, but only after circulating the questionable Black Diaries once more. This time they didn’t reckon on modern analytical methodology, and the diaries were proven to be forgeries. In spite of English efforts to sully the name of this dedicated Irish patriot, Casement’s remains were respectfully received by the Irish people, given a huge state funeral, and re-interred in Glasnevin Cemetary on March 1, 1965 – just one year before the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

Editors Note: Years later, in conversation with another great patriot, Joe Cahill, who had once been apprehended bringing arms into the IRA. He asked if I knew the name of the ship he was caught on. I replied ‘Yes, it was the CLAUDIA’. He smiled and said “drop the first two and last two letters and what have you?” He loved the irony!