Historical Happenings for March 2019

Irish-American Heritage Month

by Mike McCormack, AOH NY State Historian

On 28 February, a team of Suffolk County Hibernians appeared before the Suffolk County Legislature to request that the month of March be declared Irish-American Heritage Month in perpetuity.  As one of the speakers, I was asked to share the words I said with other members of the New York State AOH/LAOH.  The Bill by Legislator Steven J. Flotteron, listed a dozen famous Irish and Irish Americans as evidence of our contributions to America.  The towns I mention are, of course, towns in Suffolk County and I was only allowed three minutes to make my presentation.  As most of my brothers know, I can’t even do opening remarks in three minutes.  However, when it was my turn to address the assembly, I said:

“The bill before you lists only a few of the Irish and Irish-American contributors, if we were to list them all, it would take all day to read their names and all year to describe their deeds.  Suffice to say that at our beginning there were nine Irish who signed the Declaration of Independence and three of them were Irish-born, as was Secretary Charles Thompson who edited it, John Dunlop who printed it and Col Nixon who first read it to a waiting public.

As for contributions to our State, that started with the first Governor of the Province, Irish-born Thomas Dongan whose patents became the model for today’s New York State government and established many Towns including Southampton and Brookhaven. In fact his Charter is on display in the Brookhaven Town Hall on Independence Hill to this day.

As for our County, it was in the shipyards of Mattituck that Irish-born John Holland built the first successful underwater boat which he demonstrated in the waters off New Suffolk to the U.S. Navy who bought it as the first boat in the greatest Submarine Fleet in the world.

From the large number of Irish in Washington’s Army that caused Lord Mountjoy to tell the House of Commons: ”We have lost America through the Irish”, all the way up to Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Michael Murphy of Patchogue, the Irish and their descendants have defended this nation.  In March, 1863, the first Medal of Honor was awarded to Irish-born Bernard Irwin, since then 254 have been received by native-born Irishmen more than twice the number given to any other foreign-born nationality and that’s not counting the number received by Irish-Americans like Audie Murphy and Dan Daly of Glen Cove who received two of them.

The Irish also served in counter intelligence. The Roe brothers were great-grandsons of John Roe the Irish-born shoemaker who settled in Drowned Meadow as Port Jeff was known in 1667.  They were part of the Culper Spy Ring that operated out of Suffolk linked with Irish-born Hercules Mulligan in NY City whose intelligence saved Washington on at least two occasions.  From the Roe brothers to Wild Bill Donovan who developed the Office of Strategic Services in World War II, which became the CIA of which he is considered the founding father, the Irish were there.

Many of these facts are unknown and designating March as Irish-American Heritage Month would give us the opportunity to publicize them and many more.  Each year, the President declares March: Irish Heritage Month. But before March first, when we try to convince the media to share these facts with the public, they say they can’t allocate resources to something that’s not officially designated.  Then when the President designates it as such, as he does every March 1st, we’re told its too late because such promotions must be scheduled a month in advance. Asian-American History month, Hispanic Heritage month, Black History month and others are permanently designated and recognized; we would like to see Irish-American Heritage Month permanently designated as well, so that we may invite others to recognize these contributions in time to prepare a respectful celebration.

Thank you for the gift of your time.”

Presidential Proclamation — Irish-American Heritage Month, 2013

IRISH-AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH, 2013

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

For more than two centuries, America has been made and remade by striving, hopeful immigrants looking for a chance to pursue their dreams. Millions among them were born in Ireland, separated from our shores but united by their belief in a better day. This month, we celebrate the Irish-American journey, and we reflect on the ways a nation so small has inspired so much in another.

Generations of Irish left the land of their forebears to cast their fortunes with a young Republic. Escaping the blight of famine or the burden of circumstance, many found hardship even here. They endured prejudice and stinging ridicule. But through it all, these new citizens never gave up on one of our oldest ideas: that anyone from anywhere can write the next great chapter in the American story. So they raised families and built communities, earned a living and sent their kids to school. In time, what it meant to be Irish helped define what it means to be American. And as they did their part to make this country stronger, Irish Americans shared in its success, retaining the best of their heritage and passing it down to their children.

That familiar story has been lived and cherished by Americans from all backgrounds, and it reaffirms our identity as a Nation of immigrants from all around the world. So as we celebrate Irish-American Heritage Month, let us retell those stories of sweat and striving. And as two nations united by people and principle, may America and Ireland always continue to move forward together in common purpose.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2013 as Irish-American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

BARACK OBAMA

Presidential Proclamation–Irish-American Heritage Month, 2011

IRISH-AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH, 2011

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Our diverse Nation has been shaped by the sacrifices and successes of those who crossed both land and sea in pursuit of a common dream.  For millions of Americans, this journey began in Ireland.  In the wake of the Great Hunger, many sons and daughters of Erin came to our shores seeking a brighter day, with only courage and the enduring values of faith and family to sustain them.  Alongside many others who sought a better life in a new Nation, these intrepid immigrants built strong communities and helped forge our country’s future.  During Irish-American Heritage Month, we honor the contributions Irish Americans have made, and celebrate the nearly 40 million among us who proudly trace their roots back to Ireland.

From the earliest days of our Republic, the Irish have overcome discrimination and carved out a place for themselves in the American story.  Through hard work, perseverance, and patriotism, women and men of Irish descent have given their brawn, brains, and blood to make and remake this Nation — pulling it westward, pushing it skyward, and moving it forward.  Half a century ago, John F. Kennedy became our first Irish-American Catholic President and summoned an expectant citizenry to greatness.  This year, as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s inauguration, we recognize our 35th President and the countless other Irish Americans whose leadership and service have steered the course of our Nation.

Seldom in this world has a country so small had so large an impact on another.  Today, the rich culture of Ireland touches all aspects of American society, and the friendship that binds Ireland and the United States is marked by a shared past and a common future.  As communities across our country celebrate Irish-American Heritage Month and St. Patrick’s Day, our Nation pays tribute to the proud lineage passed down to so many Americans from the Emerald Isle.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2011 as Irish-American Heritage Month.  I call upon all Americans to observe this month by celebrating the contributions of Irish Americans to our Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

BARACK OBAMA

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New York News

John F. Kennedy, Division #1, Schenectady New York, to Host Celebration

The Schenectady Ancient Order of Hibernians will be hosting the 3rd Annual Celtic Faire – A Celebration of the Seven Nations, from Noon until 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 12, 2010. The Faire is designed to acquaint the attendees with Celtic food, music, culture, and heritage. The Faire will be located on the Jay Street Pedestrian Mall from State Street to City Hall in Downtown Schenectady. Music stages at each end of the Mall will feature local Celtic bands Flynn 529, St. James’ Gate, Who’s Your Paddy?, Emerald Dawn and more. Performances by the Schenectady and Albany Pipe Bands and the step dancers from Farrell’s School of Dance will round out the entertainment.  There will be food and craft vendors; a local farmers’ market; and children’s activities. A Bonnie Knees contest will be held in front of Lennon’s Irish Shop over the course of the day. The highlight of the event will be the drawing for the grand prize in the Faire raffle, a trip for two to Ireland, on June 25th. Tickets are $15 or 2 for $25, and are available by email request. The Faire is sponsored by The Gazette, Guinness and Coors Light. For more information, contact at celticfaireaoh@yahoo.com or www.aohjfk.org.

Pearl River Celebrates Irish American Heritage Month

In recognition of March being Irish American Heritage Month, Dermot Moore, the president of Division III of Pearl River, NY presented the trustees of the Pearl River Library with a check for $300.00.  The money was used to purchase books and CDs related to Irish Heritage to add to the library’s holdings. The Division worked with the staff to select appropriate materials covering topics as diverse as Newgrange, the role of the Cumann na mBan and a biography of Fr. Duffy and music from O’Carolan to Clannad.  The Library showed its appreciation by the display of a large poster throughout March, drawing attention to the AOH’s gift and recognizing March as Irish American Heritage Month.  The Division hopes that these books and CDs will help convey the message of the important role played by the Irish and Irish Americans not only in March, but throughout the year.

Check Presentation

Check Presentation

Albany AOH Honors Division Chaplain

Fr. Capistran Hanlon, O.F.M., long time Chaplain of The Father Henry Tansey Division #5 in Albany, NY, was honored at a reception sponsored by Siena College and AOH Division #5.  Fr. Capistran retired from active duty as Division Chaplain as well as recently retiring from Siena College as a Sociology Professor.  Fr. Capistran faithfully served as AOH Division #5 Chaplain since 1982, shortly after the tragic and sudden death of his close friend and AOH Division #5

Chaplain Father Henry Tansey. Fr. Capistran, a native of Rutherford, NJ, entered the Franciscan Order in 1953 and was ordained to the priesthood on March 12, 1960. He holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Colorado and is a retired Professor of Sociology at Siena. He has published widely in his field and is well known for his work with the native peoples in Arizona. Along with his teaching ministry, Capistran helps in parishes in the Albany Diocese by celebrating liturgy and preaching; he has been Vicar in the Siena Friary for eight years, and served as Chaplain to the Colonie Police Department. Fr. Capistran is well-known in the Capital District for his continued support and dedication to the Irish American community as a Hibernian but he was also active with the Albany Police Pipe & Drum Band and was supportive of the Albany LAOH Division and Capital District Irish American Center.  Fr. Capistran has close ties to many Hibernian families and always made himself available to celebrate significant events that included weddings, Christenings and anniversary parties.  Fr. Capistran was also helpful in offering his services and guidance at wakes and funerals of friends and Hibernians.  The reception to honor Fr. Capistran was well attended and attracted a broad representation of AOH members, community leaders and families of the Irish American Community.  AOH Division #5 presented Fr. Capistran with a Waterford crystal Celtic Cross in appreciation for his many years as a committed Hibernian and Division Chaplain.  Fr. Capistran was also presented with gifts from friends but was most notably recognized by Fr. Kevin Mullen, O.F.M., Ph.d, Siena College President and Albany Hibernian.  Fr. Kevin spoke of Fr. Capistran’s Irish nature, academic achievements and his impact on the Siena College student community as a teacher and mentor. At Fr. Capistran’s request, proceeds and gifts from the reception were donated to the Albany AOH and LAOH Scholarship Fund at Siena College in the name of Fr. Henry Tansey and Bill Dooley, deceased New York State Trooper and member of the Albany Police & Drum Band.

(L to R) Back Row: Michael McNabb, NYS AOH Vice President, Tim McSweeney, NYS AOH Treasurer and Patrick Hale, President of the Capital District Irish American Association. Front Row: Kevin O'Reilly, Albany Div. 5 President, Fr. Capistran Hanlon, OFM, Honoree and Fr. Kevin Mullen, OFM, President of Siena College.

New York FFAI Success

Albany NY AOH Div. 5 Chairman for the Freedom for All Ireland, Ciaran Geraghty, had the Albany City Common Council pass the resolution that Rita O’Hare and Sean Pender talked about at this year’s Fr. Murphy Award Banquet, with regard to the value of a free and united Ireland.  It was passed unanimously, on March 15th. Division member Cliff Nolan, traveling to Rory Dolan’s in Yonkers to hear Martin McGuinness speak on the 17th, was asked to bring a copy along in the hope of seeing and presenting it on his behalf.  It worked out well as the picture shows, and was greatly appreciated.

(L to R) Maryann Tucker, Martin McGuinness, Patty Nolan and Cliff Nolan

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