Hibernians To Celebrate 175th Anniversary at Basilica of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral

At a February 23rd meeting at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, chaired by General Chairman Past National President Ed Wallace with co-chair Tom Beirne, NY County President, Msgr. Sakano, National President Seamus Boyle and many 175th committee members, final plans were made for the parade, Mass and reception on May 21st, 2011 commemorating the 175th anniversary of the AOH.

This site and date in May 2011 were chosen to recognize the founding of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America at nearby St. James Church (now closed) 175 years ago on May 4, 1836 by a ‘handful of Irishmen.” A letter dated 5/4/1836 “From the Brethren in Ireland and Great Britain to the Brethren in New York.” read:

“Brothers, greeting: Be it known to you and to all it may concern that we send to our few brothers in New York full instructions with our authority to establish branches of our society in America.” The letter goes on to explain qualifications for membership, use of the motto Friendship, Unity and true Christian Charity, and what is expected of the new branches and its members.

It was at Old St. Patrick’s that the call went out to the Hibernian brotherhood by Archbishop John “Dagger” Hughes to save the church from the Know Nothings in the mid 1800’s when those bigots were burning catholic churches. The AOH surrounded and saved the Cathedral and later built the wall around it.

To note the founding of our Order, Hibernian members wearing sashes, and guests are asked to assemble on Mulberry Street near Precious Blood Church just north of Canal St. at at 9:00 am on May 21, 2011. The parade will step off at 9:30 am and go north on Mulberry St. to Prince St., right on Prince St., left on Mott St. to the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral. This route retraces a similar route, depicted in the famous lithograph, of the 69th Regiment in April 1861 on their way to the Civil War parading to St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral and past the then AOH headquarters at 41 Prince Street. The 175th parade will be led by AOH color guard, clergy, AOH National Bd, first two divisions organized in 1800’s, LAOH Nat’l Bd, pipe bands and state, county and division officers and members with their flags and banners. Representatives of the Fighting 69th will also be part of the march to the Cathedral.

An anniversary Mass to be celebrated by the AOH National Chaplain Father Thomas O’Donnell of Pittsburgh and con-celebrated by the pastor Msgr. Sakano, AOH State, County and Division Chaplains bishops and priests will take place at 11:00 am in the Old Cathedral. The Mass will be sung by the Hibernian Festival Choir under the direction of Maura Allen.

This choir has sung at the White House and at many venues in Ireland, N. Ireland, Canada and the U.S. and have always added to the solemnity of the liturgy. AOH members will act as ushers and altar servers under guidance of a committee headed by Past National Director Martin Kelly of Brooklyn.

Following the Mass, a reception will be held in the Youth Center across from the Cathedral. Catered food and refreshments and entertainment will be offered starting at approximately 12:30 pm. A short program and introduction of visiting dignitaries will take place during the reception.

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. A fee of $20.00 per person will cover cost of reception and day’s activities. All who plan to attend the May 21st celebration is urged to respond by April 30, 2011 with number attending and check made out to: AOH 175th  Anniversary and send to: AOH 175th Anniversary % Mr. Patrick Allen 1713 Summit Avenue Union City, NJ 07087. Registration and receipt of wrist band of all pre-paid responders will take place at parade assemble area prior to start of parade and again for rest of attendees immediately following the Mass. All are urged to respond by the deadline.

For anyone coming to the 175th celebration at Old St. Patrick’s and wishing to stay over the night before should make their own hotel arrangements at several of the hotels in the immediate area such as: Holiday Inn Soho 138 LaFayette Street at 212-966-8898 Use Code AOH for $179/night Fri/Sat (contact Brendan Moore 631-363-2388 or brendanaoh@yahoo.com and he will get more rooms added); Hotel East Houston 151 E. Houston St. at 212-777-0012 or The GEM Hotel –Soho 135 E. Houston St at 212-358-8844. Each of these are within a few minutes walk of the Cathedral. Other hotels can be found online.

To get idea of numbers attending on 5/21/11, everyone is asked to contact asap either 175th Chrmn. PNP Ed Wallace at 315-686-3917 or email ewallac2@twcny.rr.com or Nat’l Pres. Seamus Boyle at 215-820-1547 or email shay39@comcast.net.

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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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Flushing Division Celebrates 100 Years

In 1909 the AOH National Board received an application to form a new Division in Flushing, New York.  Queens County President Peter McSarry told State President S.W. Brown there was great interest for the new Division. At the time, Flushing had a growing Irish population and was changing from farming to a residential community. The application was reviewed and approved by the National Board in January 1910.

The next month, on February 10, 1910, Division 9 was founded in Flushing at Saint Michael’s Church. The founding officers were M.J. Connor – President, James Tracy -Vice-President, James Hayes – Recording Secretary, John J. Mayer – Finical Secretary and Patrick Sellers -Treasurer. The Charter reflected the times in that Ireland was not an independent country and the flag was the traditional 1798 rising banner.

In its early years Division 9 was a source of comfort to the growing Irish immigrant population of Flushing and western Queens. Members of the Division actively supported the WWI war effort and sent care packages to the solders in France.  During the 1920s the Division was involved in transforming Main Street Flushing into one of the biggest commercial areas of New York City.  The 1930s were a very difficult time for the Division.  The economic depression inspired members to provide food packages to Brother Hibernians throughout Queens County who were in need. During WWII the Division participated in war bond drives and they again sent care packages to soldiers fighting overseas.

The greatest growth and activity of Division 9 came after WWII.  That’s when Flushing saw a population boom due to the construction of new single family and attached homes, along with new apartments. Division 9 held events at the Flushing Armory with crowds of more than 300 people. Members of the Division were involved in civic, commerce and industry in the Flushing community.

Division 9 was the first division in eastern Queens. Members assisted in the creation of Divisions in Whitestone, Woodhaven, Rockaway Beach, Bayside and Bellerose. Many of the people who were involved in Division 9 activities went on to form Divisions in Nassau and Suffolk counties; and in other states across the country.

In 1993, the Division responded to the changing Irish population by moving from Saint Michael’s Church in downtown Flushing to Saint Andrew Avellino Church in east Flushing. In 1997, the Division was named in honor of Patrick J. Curran – a 67 year member of the Division 9, a National Life Member, County officer, Division President and Treasurer of the Division for more than 30 years.

Members of the Division have been actively involved on the AOH Queens County Board. The County Men of the Year were Patrick J. Curran in 1991, his son Joseph Curran in 2000 and John Mahoney in 2007.  Division member Joseph Curran was also Freedom of All Ireland Chairman from 1988 to 2009, while John Mahoney was County Treasurer from 1989 to 1991; Thomas Friel was County Treasurer form 1999 to 2001 and A. Warren Scullin was County President from 2003 to 2005. Division members have also served on the Queens County Degree Team.  The current Queens County Board members are Gregory Farren – County Finical Secretary and Owen Kelly – Organizer.

Division 9 has always had an active participating role in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City.  The Aides to the Grand Marshall were Patrick J. Curran in 1970 and his son Joseph Curran in 1997.

Throughout the years the Division has been an active in the cause of a United Ireland. Members of the Division have written to government officials, participated in AOH National and State Freedom for All Ireland events and supported programs of economic development and social justice causes in Northern Ireland. Joseph Curran was an inspiration to all of the members for such a just cause. His passing in 2009 was a time of great sadness for all of the members of the Division, yet his memory lives on and it inspires the members to work harder for peace and justice for all the people of Ireland.

Over the past few years the Division has been involved with working with the New York State AOH for the growth of the order.  Current Division President A. Warren Scullin was State Deputy Finance Chairman from 2003 to 2005, State Deputy Organizer from 2007 to 2009 and is presently a State Director.

Most recently, the Division has hosted Andy Cooney and Tony Kenny concerts, sponsored sporting events, donated to Saint Andrew Avellino Church, participated in AOH National and State Conventions and helped to form a Division in Woodside.

Today Division 9 still plays an active role in the Flushing community. It is a networking environment where people of a common background and faith can share their love of Irish heritage. Times change, yet the members still keep the faith of the founding officers and live by the Hibernian motto of Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity.

Members of Monsignor McLaughlin Division 7 in Wantagh, NY pose with Town of Hempstead Executive Kate Murray after marching in the Wantagh 4th of July Parade this past Independence Day.

New AOH Hall at Hudson Valley’s Historic Verplanck

New Peekskill AOH Hall

On August 1, 2010 the Red School House (circa July 1876) in historic Verplanck in the town of Cortlandt in Westchester County became the Hudson Valley Irish Center, home of Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 18, Peekskill Hibernian Hall thanks to generosity of the Verplanck Volunteer Fire Department.

The solid red brick building was built by the Irish immigrants who mined and made the bricks that built NYC. Their names are etched in the bricks over the entrance along with the date in early July, 1876. Many of those family names can still be found in the Town of Cortlandt where the Hibernian Hall is located, the neighboring City of Peekskill and amongst the roster of our members.

Dan Dennehy, AOH National & NYS Board Immigration Chair and Chairman of the Hudson Valley Irish Fest Inc. stated, “We are excited to see our organizations grow in our new home, a place built by our ancestors and an appropriate place to display and promote our rich Irish American heritage. I look forward to the local schools of music and dance, pipe bands and traditional musicians, along with our families, sharing this facility and its grounds, which overlook the majestic Hudson River.”

Last year, the Hudson Valley Irish Fest at Peekskill’s Riverfront Green was founded by AOH members Dan Dennehy and Ray Bermingham and fellow Peekskill St. Patrick’s Parade Committee member Scott Mettey. Their purpose was to promote the idea of a much needed home for Irish American heritage. At that time, the active local Irish American community was reeling from the loss of Jimmy Guinan’s and PJ Kelly’s, two local establishments that were centers of Irish music and dance. The Hudson Valley Irish Fest, a not for profit charitable corporation and educational trust was established and contributed to by the combined efforts of  AOH Division 18 and the Peekskill St. Patrick’s Parade Committee. They recruited members of the community to their Fest Committee and raised funds with a series of successful Pub Quizzes.

The result of the extremely dedicated Committee work saw 3,000 guests at the beautiful riverfront on Fest day. Also many new friendships were made and membership and interest in the local Irish organizations blossomed. The committee compensated the two organizations for their initial outlay and further unexpected dividends of this effort became apparent.

AOH Division 18 more than doubled its membership and the Peekskill St. Patrick’s Parade Committee welcomed many new participants. The Hudson Valley Irish Fest Inc. and Peekskill St. Patrick’s Parade Committee established the John McGurty Sr. Library, a multimedia section of Irish & Irish-American literature and history at the Field Library in Peekskill.

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Donations To Old St. Patrick’s

Members of The Francis P. Beirne AOH Division 9, NY County at the presentation of $10,000 check to St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral. (L to R) Brian Andersson, NYC Commisioner of Archives; Pete Coyle, Division Treasurer; Paul Mahoney; Monsignor Donald Sakano, Pastor and NY County Chaplain; Martin Beirne, Division President; Archbishop Timothy Dolan; Brendan Lynch, Past Division President; Mary Beirne; Tom Beirne, NY County President; John Pesche, South Florida State Organizer; Sir Patrick Allen.

Members of The Francis P. Beirne AOH Division 9, NY County at the presentation of $10,000 check to St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral. (L to R) Brian Andersson, NYC Commisioner of Archives; Pete Coyle, Division Treasurer; Paul Mahoney; Monsignor Donald Sakano, Pastor and NY County Chaplain; Martin Beirne, Division President; Archbishop Timothy Dolan; Brendan Lynch, Past Division President; Mary Beirne; Tom Beirne, NY County President; John Pesche, South Florida State Organizer; Sir Patrick Allen.

Members of the AOH attended a memorial Conference and Mass to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Cardinal John O’Connor in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on Monday May 3, 2010. Cardinal O’Connor was a proud Hibernian, a member of Division 9, NY County, recipient of the John F.Kennedy Memorial Medal from the AOH National Board; and the 1996 Grand Marshal for the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.

After the conference and prior to the Mass Martin Beirne, President of the Francis P. Beirne Division 9, NY County AOH presented a check for $10,000 to Monsignor Donald Sakano, Pastor of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral and to Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Division 9 has pledged $30,000 as part of the Cathedral’s 200th Anniversary Capital Campaign; to cover the costs of installing transparent doors into the burial crypt under St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral.  The Division is proud to help with the restoration and improvements at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, which the AOH were called on by Archbishop John “Dagger” Hughes to defend by force during the 1830 and 1840’s.  The AOH defended the church grounds and prevented the “Know Nothings” from destroying St. Patrick’s old Cathedral.  A reenactment of the defense of the Old Cathedral was made on Sunday June 7, 2009 after a Mass and Parade to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the laying of the Cornerstone for St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral. Archbishop Timothy Dolan announced at the St. Patrick’s Day Mass in the New Cathedral that St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral was granted Basilica status by the Holy Father.

Monsignor Donald Sakano, who in addition to his duties as pastor of the Old Cathedral also serves as chaplain to the New York County AOH Board, said “I am both grateful for the practical support shown by Division 9 of the New York County AOH, and moved that its membership is still standing “shoulder to shoulder” in defense of the Old Cathedral, as their forebears did long ago.  The gift of the members, which is the first donation tied to a specific 200th Anniversary Campaign project, will enable visitors to the Old Cathedral to see through transparent doors, emplaced in the Mott Street courtyard of the Old Cathedral, into our one of our most notable features, our historic crypt, which contains the remains of many prominent New Yorkers, as well as many of the pioneering priests of the Archdiocese going back to the early 19th century.  As we undertake a number of restoration projects in connection with the 200th anniversary of the Old Cathedral, this generous gift is deeply appreciated.”

Plans are now under way for the 175th Anniversary of the AOH in America and many of the events, including masses and tours of the Old Cathedral, are currently being planned for the Fall of 2011.

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