New York News

AOH Oswego, NY, hosted international group “Enter the Haggis” at their 2nd Annual “1/2 Way to St. Patrick’s Day Party”!

 

AOH Dean Michael Barry Division 1 in Oswego celebrated their 2nd annual “1/2 Way to St. Patrick’s Day Party” on September 17. Headlining the event was the international Canadian band “Enter the Haggis” (ETH), who just released their 7th album.

Each year the Hibernians sponsor a large party at their AOH Hall with bagpipers, step dancers, Irish food and beverages, a bake sale and more. “This year we gave the party a shot of steroids,” said President Tim Kirwan, “by inviting this well known progressive rock/Celtic band. Three music acts headlined the entertainment outside, including 2 local bands and then ETH. Many volunteers came forward to make this well attended event a big success. “The weather couldn’t have been better, nor the music and the company,” Mike Callahan, an AOH member that handles public relations for and a member of the AOH declared. It looks like this annual party is here to stay and ETH showed great interest in coming back next year. This division continues to grow monthly, with approximately 250 full members and 150 social members.

 

NY Board endorses Moore, McKay, McNabb, McLean

The New York State Board held its semi-annual meeting on October 22 in Schenectady. The day began with the state board’s annual Pro Life Mass, with Deputy National Chaplin Fr. Henry Reid as the main concelebrant. Fr. Reid is also the New York State Chaplin.

State President Michael McNabb led the well-attended meeting held afterwards, at which Immediate Past State President Charles (Chip) McLean announced his candidacy for National Director. The state board endorsed his bid. Pennsylvania’s Denny Donnelly announced he’s running for National Director, and current National Director Jere Cole announced he would seek reelection.

Also at the meeting, National Vice President Brendan Moore received a standing-ovation endorsement of the state board for his candidacy for the office of National President. The state board endorsed National Secretary Tom McNabb as well, and current National Treasurer Judge Jim McKay was endorsed for the office of National Vice President.

National Director Danny O’Connell announced he will run for National Treasurer.

Later in the day, our able and generous hosts, the Schenectady Division, organized our annual bowling tournament at which many of the finest AOH and LAOH athletes competed. The laughs, the feeling of Hibernian camaraderie, and the fun of the sport made for a great afternoon. The subsequent buffet dinner and tournament awards presentations at the Schenectady Division Hibernian Hall were an informal and happy way to end the day.

— John C. O’Connell, state director, publicity chairman

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Thomas MacCurtain

January 30, 1920 was a happy day for Tomas MacCurtain. He had been elected Lord Mayor of Cork. Born as Thomas Curtin in Ballinknockin, Co. Cork, on 20th March 1884, he began using the Gaelic version of his name, Tomas MacCurtain, when he joined the Gaelic League in Blackpool, Cork City in 1901. By 1902 he was the group’s Secretary. He was also a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (American Alliance) in Cork City and rose to be the Division President. Tomas was interested in Irish history and was a bagpiper as well as an accomplished violinist and often played in an orchestra. This brown-haired, blue-eyed Irishman had great determination.

After he left school he worked at Marks Mills in Crosses Green and in his spare time he taught the Irish language to those wishing to learn. He met Eilish Walsh, also active in the Gaelic League, and they married on 28th June 1908. They had 5 children and lived at 40 Thomas Davis St in the northern part of Cork City.

By 1911, he was involved in the running of Fianna Eireann, and he became a Volunteer in 1914. He fought for Irish freedom and for that cause served prison terms in 1916 and 1917 in Wakefield, Frongoch and Reading Jail in England. He became Commandant of the Cork Brigade of the IRA which grew so large that on Jan 5, 1919, it was divided into 3 Brigades with Michael Collins presiding over the meeting. Commandant MacCurtain was left to command Cork Brigade No 1 and Tom Hales became Commandant of Cork Brigade No 3. The following day, MacCurtain presided over a meeting in Mallow to form (North) Cork Brigade No. 2.

Under a policy of ignoring institutions established by the British, the Irish used the legal elections held by the Brits to elect their own representatives, and establish their own Parliament instead of sitting in Westminster or accepting Crown appointed officials. On January 31, 1920, elections were held in Cork City, and Sinn Fein dominated local councils. Tomas was elected by his Ward and was chosen to be Lord Mayor of Cork City. The Brits were furious. Tomas began implementing changes with a mind toward the dream of a free Ireland.

On March 19, 1920, at 11 PM, a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary was shot and killed on Pope’s Quay, Cork. Some hours later (just after 1 AM, March 20) men disguised with blackened faces burst into the MacCurtain home and shot the Lord Mayor in his bed. In the house at the time were Mrs. MacCurtain, her children, her brother, 3 sisters, 2 nieces and a nephew, and her invalid mother Mrs. Walsh. Tomas’ sister-in-law Annie came down the stairs with a Crucifix and holy water. They knelt down and prayed by the lifeless body, Annie holding her arm under Tomas’ head. He was bleeding from around the region of the heart. Annie described how they remained praying until the priest came in response to Mrs. MacCurtain’s telephone call. I called on the Sacred Heart to spare him, at least until the priest would come, Annie said. When the priest came I went away for a few minutes, but came back then to see him die. His last words were: “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit”.

Tomas died just after receiving the Last Rites. Such was public reaction, that the funeral on Monday 22nd March, from the North Cathedral was the largest ever seen in Cork city. Tomas MacCurtin, musician, pioneer of the Gaelic revival movement, Commandant of the Cork Brigade, Sinn Fein member, AOH President, founding member of the Irish Volunteers, was laid to rest in St Finbarr’s Church graveyard, in a plot facing the main gate. His personal pistol was given to his friend, Michael Collins. The Cork City Council held an inquiry and indicted the British government for MacCurtain’s murder. Among those involved in the murder was RIC District-Inspector Oswald Swanzy, who was secretly transferred to Lisburn in Northern Ireland to safeguard him from retaliation.

However, retaliation was the order of the day as far as Collins was concerned. It took a few months to locate him, but In August, Collins handed Tomas MacCurtain’s pistol to a hand-picked team who went north and on August 22, 1920 dealt justice to Inspector Oswald Swanzy from MacCurtain’s own gun. Swanzy’s death so infuriated the Brits that the entire Catholic section of Lisburn was burned to the ground.

MacCurtin was succeeded in office by Terence MacSwiney – and that’s another story.

NHD Winners Win Awards

Pat Maguire, Clara Cullen and Sean Murphy

Clara Cullen of Ada Michigan won critical acclaim and the top award at National History Day at the University of Maryland for her website on the Gaelic Athletic Association’s impact on preserving the Irish nation.  National Historian, Mike McCormack asked past Michigan State President Pat Maguire and St Patrick’s Division President Sean Murphy to make the presentation to Ms Cullen.  The presentation was made front of the Michigan State Capital at Lansing.  Clara’s Mother, Susan Cullen, and Grandmother Clara, attended the event where Pat Maguire presented the winning check of $1500 to Clara.

At the New York State Finals for NHD held at Cooperstown, NY, four young ladies from Connetquot High School captured top honors with a presentation of how Irish step dancing led to the development of Jazz Tap dancing.  They were Nina Franza, Dara Copolone, Brittany Holloway and Jacqueline Schrage.  National Historian Mike McCormack joined with Suffolk County AOH Historian Dr. Dave Ring to make the Award presentation.

You can see the winning website by clicking here.

Dr. Dave Ring, Mike McCormack, winning students, Principal Moran and Dr. Hillary Garland

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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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New Candidates Announcing National Office Intent

As we enter the home stretch towards the biannual Nation Convention and election of officers for the Order we are receiving official announcements of members seeking higher office.

New Jersey State President Jere Cole has announced that he will run for AOH National Office this July in Cincinnati Ohio at the National Convention.  Jere’s Irish heritage has always been an important aspect of his life.  It is this pride that has led him to become involved in a number of Irish American organizations.  Among these organizations is the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #9, Essex County New Jersey for the past 20 years.  Jere has chaired a number of committees & is currently a past president, and also serves on the State Board of the AOH executive committee where he was elected to the Hibernian Charity Board and is currently the New Jersey State Board President.  Jere is also an active member of the following organizations: The Cryan Association, Giblin Association, Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh, Heritage Festival Ball past chairman, Vailsburg Irish American Association, Essex County Emerald Society, Irish American Cultural Institute, Ironbound Irish American Association, The Irish American Assn. of Northwest Jersey, Frank McGovern Association, Belleville Irish American Association and the Joseph Nugent Sr. Association. Jere is an active member of the Newark Saint Patrick’s Day Parade committee. He has held numerous positions including General Chairman 2003-04 and is also a member of the West Orange Saint Patrick’s Parade committee.  Jere was the General Chairman of the 30th Annual New Jersey Irish Festival in June of 2000.

Joe Dougherty of North Carolina announced that he will run for National Secretary.  Joe’s resume includes serving as Past National Director, Past South Carolina State President, Past South Carolina State Organizer, Past South Carolina Division President.  He is currently a Division President in North Carolina, Mecklenburg County Board Vice President and serves as North Carolina State Organizer.  As he looks forward towards his campaign for National Secretary at the 2010 National Convention in Cincinnati, Joe stated, “My platform will be very simple, it is time to move the office of National Secretary into the 21 Century.”

National Pro-Life Chair and Immediate Past New York State President Matt Nelligan recently announced his candidacy for the office of National Director. Elected as State President at age 34, he was the youngest person to be elected to the presidency. During his time in office, he made significant progress toward modernizing the recruitment and public relations efforts of the AOH. In addition, he helped to raise more than $20,000 for AOH related charities and expanded our Order into two counties that had never before had an AOH Presence. In February of 2008 he was selected by the Irish Echo newspaper was one of the top 40 Irish-American leaders under the age of 40 in the United States.

A member of the AOH since 1992, Mr. Nelligan served on the NYS AOH board since 1999 in every elected office including the offices of President, vice president, treasurer and secretary. He was selected to be general chairperson for the 2007 New York State AOH convention and in 2008 was appointed as the National Chairman of Pro-Life.  As National Pro-Life chairman Matt has worked hard to engage our membership on important public policy issues and to expand our presence at the annual March for Life in Washington DC.  Professionally, Mr. Nelligan serves as the Committee Director for the New York State Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee as well as Legislative Director for its Chairman Senator George Maziarz. Matt is also President of the Irish 2000 Music and Arts Festival– one of the largest celebrations of Irish culture in the United States – marking its 14th anniversary in 2010. Since its inception, the not-for-profit festival has raised more than $350,000 to assist local and Irish charities.

Mr. Nelligan is a past Hibernian of the Year for his Division in Albany NY and has also been recognized as the recipient of the prestigious Father John Murphy award in 2008. In 2009, he was also recognized by his brothers from Division 9 in New York City as their “Guest of Honor”.  Matt is a past committee member and one-time committee chairman of the Doors of Hope benefit concert that raised more than $50,000 for Father Des Wilson’s Community Centers in Belfast and Derry and is a past Vice-Chairman of the Irish American Heritage Museum.  A graduate of Siena College in Loudonville NY, he received his master’s degree from The College of St. Rose in Albany NY. He and his wife, Jennifer, live in Guilderland NY with their two daughters, Molly and Emily.

Montana’s O’Connor Announces Bid for National Director With the full support of his Brother Hibernians, Montana’s Mike O’Connor has announced his intent to seek the office of National Director at the 2010 National Convention in Cincinnati. A member of the Thomas Francis Meagher Division of the AOH for nearly 25 years, he has held his Major Degree since 1991 when the Tara Court Major Degree Team came to Montana.  Following his service as Division and State Presidents, he became active nationally by arousing the interest in the West for the AOH.  Mike was elected to the position of National Director in 2000 and re-elected in 2002.  Brother Mike continues to be very active in AOH activities in Montana.  Just this past year Mike was part of the committee responsible for erecting a monument to Thomas Francis Meagher in Fort Benton, the location of his demise.  It was a difficult year to take on such a project considering the country’s economic downturn, but it was a huge success and a great Irish celebration.  Mike says, I would like to bring back to the National Board that “can do” attitude we have here in Montana. Mike has always considered it an honor to be a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and a great privilege to serve as an officer. He asks Brother Hibernians across the country to support his effort in seeking the position as National Director.

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