The Hibernian Catechism by Father Henry Reid

Father Henry Reid

Father Henry Reid, NY AOH State Chaplain, has created an Irish-English Language Hibernian Catechism to view online and to download and print in a convenient booklet format.  Included in the publication are many of our daily prayers, the US and Irish national anthems, a primer on our Catholic Faith and a section on important dates in Irish history.

Read the Hibernian Catechism online here.

Download the Hibernian Catechism (print version) here.

Historical Happenings for November 2015 – The Bodhran

by Mike McCormack,
NY State Historian


A bodhrán (BO-rahn) is the basic traditional Celtic frame drum used in traditional Irish music.  It is a circular wooden frame with a goat skin stretched over one side.  Some who like to play with words claim that a dog-skin can be used, but in that case, it is called a bow-wow rahn!  (Sorry)  The other side is open-ended for a hand to be placed against the inside of the skin. There are generally one or two cross braces inside the frame to strengthen the shell and prevent warping.  Some may have none as a result of stronger wood shells such as rosewood being used in construction.  The goat-skin head is subject to atmospheric conditions and loosen in damp weather or tighten in dry.  Some modern bodhráns use a mechanical tuning system similar to those used on drums with head-clamps around the edge and a hex key to tighten or loosen the skin.  For those without such systems, heat will tighten and a spray of water will loosen the skins.  To play the bodhrán, a right-handed drummer holds the instrument with the left arm with their left hand touching the inside of the skin.  Flexing the hand against the cross braces can apply pressure to the skin and control the tone and pitch of the sound.  I once met a player who used a block of wood with a flattened face pressed against the skin with which he was able to get remarkable sound variations.  The other hand holds a beater called a “tipper” or “cipin” which were originally fashioned from a double-ended knuckle bone, but are now made from ash, holly or hickory.  The tipper can have one head, two or none or the player can beat with his fingers.  At a Galway seisiun, I watched an old man played a bodhrán with surprising dexterity.  I wasn’t able to see how he held the beater for when he stopped playing, his hand went behind him. I finally went up and asked him to show me how he held the stick and he showed me his hand; on his index and middle fingers were two empty shotgun shells held on with rubber bands!

Ronan Nolan, former editor of Irish Music magazine, believes the bodhrán evolved in the 17th century from the tambourine because it is seen in an early 1800s painting.  However, I believe that name was used since the tambourine was a medieval instrument popular in England at the time. There are also references to a poor man’s tambourine made from farm implements without the metal cymbals around the edge, that was used by mummers or wren boys whose purpose was simply creating noise.  The word itself is mentioned in a translated English document in the 17th century listing words from county Wexford and meaning A drum, tambourine…also a sieve used in winnowing corn.  A painting by Daniel Maclise around 1842 shows a Samhain (SAH-win or Celtic Halloween) party in which a bodhrán is featured among the musical instruments.  Seán Ó Riada, leader of the legendary traditional band, Ceoltóirí Chualann, declared the bodhrán to be the native drum of the Celts and bodhrán historian and maker, Paraic McNeela, claims a musical history that predates Christianity.  Bodhrán maker Caramel Tobin suggests that the name means skin tray.  He also suggests a link with the Irish word bodhor, meaning a drum or a dull sound.  It also means deaf which, some purists say, are those by whom amateur players are most enjoyed.  After an all-star concert in Manhattan many years ago, which I had the honor to MC, many of the musicians gathered afterward in a hotel room and, as would normally happen, the instruments came out and a seisiun commenced with Dermot O’Brien, Joe Hayes, Barley Bree, the Celtic Folk, among others.  I ran to my car and returned with my bodhrán which set Dermot O’Brien laughing.  When I asked the source of his laughter he replied, I always remember what ‘Banjo’ Joe Burke said about a man who plays a bodhran – here’s a man who’s tried everything else!  I have heard most of the negative remarks made about bodhrán players from the best way to play it is with a knife to here comes the moron with the bodhrán.  I even saw a display in a Colorado Irish pub showing favorite traditional Irish instruments and between the fiddle and accordion was a bodhrán with its skin sliced down the middle!  Those remarks are inspired by amateurs who couldn’t keep a beat with a timer, playing so loud to be heard above the music when all they should be doing is providing a background beat for the musicians.


It is similar to the frame drums found widely from Africa to the Middle East used in Arabic music, music of Mediterranean cultures and even the Iranian daf.  It can also be found in the music of Galicia, the Celtic region of northern Spain, often accompanying the gaita gallega (galician bagpipes).  In the Celtic region of West Cornwall, a crowdy-crawn is a wooden hoop covered with sheepskin often used as a drum.  The crowdy-crawn evolved from the riddle, an agricultural sieve used for sifting coarse material from harvested grain.  Highlander Osgood Mackenzie described the riddle as stretched sheep-skins with holes perforated in them by a big red-hot needle, serving on occasion as a tambourine for dancers, but originally meant as a corn-measure.  University of Connecticut ethno-musicologist Dorothea Hast feels that its use as musical instrument was only in rural areas and its use as an instrument did not become widespread until the 1960s. That was when it gained recognition as a legitimate musical instrument in Seán Ó Riada’s traditional ensemble, Ceoltóirí Chualann, which inspired a rebirth in traditional music as a serious art form.  As part of that revival, solo bodhrán playing came into its own and it became a globally recognized instrument.  Virtuoso players such as The Boys of the Lough’s Robin Morton, The Chieftains’ Kevin Conniffe and De Dannan’s Johnny “Ringo” McDonagh further developed crowd-pleasing playing techniques such as “rim shots” and the brush-end beater.

To attract tourists, Bodhrán skins have also been painted with Celtic designs and while some are beautiful, the paintings don’t enhance nor hinder the tone – even when they are beaten off.  However, many who bought bodhráns because they looked easy to play now have them hanging as wall decorations when the owner found that they were really not that easy to master!  To see an example of bodhrán playing, google YOU TUBE BODHRAN DEMO by Pat Reilly and view the accompanying videos. To see the remarkable advances made in techniques google YOU TUBE WORLD BODHRÁN CHAMPIONSHIPS which are held in Milltown, County Kerry, Ireland each year and prepare to be amazed.

Keep St. Patrick in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Add your voice and be heard…
Sign the petition by clicking hereSt Patrick

 Keep the Spirit of St. Patrick and Democracy in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Concerned Members of the Affiliated Organizations of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

For over two centuries, the Irish American community of New York has proudly celebrated their Patron Saint Patrick, their ancestral Homeland of Ireland, their faith and American patriotism by marching annually on the Feast of St. Patrick. Since 1992, the Parade has been operated .by St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Inc., a corporation whose sole purpose is to conduct in cooperation with the broader Irish American community a parade in honor of St. Patrick, the principles of the Roman Catholic Church and the culture and tradition of the Irish and Irish American people. Many of us had believed that the inclusion of an LGBT group in last year’s parade led by his Eminence Cardinal Dolan as Grand Marshal signaled an end to past. controversies and would allow the parade to once again focus on all that is right and important about St. Patrick’s Day and the parade.

Alas, it seems the Board has forgotten that the Affiliated Organizations are the backbone of the parade; some of them have been marching in the parade. For over a century and many of their members for generations. The Board of Directors continually marginalized the Affiliated Organizations, which pay annual dues, support fundraising events and who, per the bylaws, and are supposed to have a democratic voice in the parade.

We are deeply concerned with an agenda published by St. Patrick’s Day Parade Inc. Chairman Dr. John Lahey for a meeting to be held on 10/29 concerning revisions to the corporation’s bylaws. Among the agenda items are:

  • Removal of the section which states “The Parade will be held in honor of St Patrick, the Patron Saint of the Archdiocese of New York and the Patron Saint of Ireland.”
  • The elimination of the election, by democratic process, of the officers of the parade committee by the affiliated organizations; depriving the affiliated organizations of any voice in the parade.
  • The creation of a new executive committee, replacing the elected Parade Committee, answerable only to Dr. Lahey and the Board to administer the parade.
  • The removal of the requirement that members of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee be of Irish descent
  • The removal of the requirement that members of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee be Roman Catholic.

In proposing these changes, Dr. Lahey highlights the fact that recent appointments to the Board were made contrary to the current bylaws and are thus null and void as well as any board decisions made since, specifically the appointment of persons who are employees, of Quinnipiac. University and report to Dr. Lahey as subordinates in his role as president of that University.

Dr. Lahey and the Board cite the need for inclusion in the parade yet the creation of special “executive committees” and the disenfranchisement of organizations that have marched and supported the parade for decades contradict those sentiments. They wish to remove the only purpose and meaning of the parade and to place it totally under the control of a small ruling body.

We request that the proposed executive board meeting and all changes to the bylaws of the parade be suspended and that a meeting of the between the Board, Committee, and Affiliated Organizations be convened as soon as possible. Our ancestors came to this country to escape the rule by elites and this meeting is more than appropriate and long overdue.

Add your voice before October 29th and be heard…

Click Here to Sign the Petition

AOH Division 1 – Richmond County – Irish Music Festival


The AOH John F Kennedy Division #1 of Richmond County will be hosting an Irish Music Festival to benefit The Society of St. Paul on Sunday, September 14, 2014 from Noon- 6:00pm at The Alba House in Staten Island.  The Alba House is located at 2187 Victory Blvd in Staten Island.

The entertainment will feature The Band of Rogues, The Narrowbacks, The Jimmy Hawkins Band and others.  There will be food, beverages, and plenty of activities for the kids.  Come with the entire family for a wonderful day of Irish Music!  Bring your lawn chairs and blankets, but please no coolers.

Admission is $10.00 per person and kids under 12 are free.

For more information or directions, please contact Greg DeForest at (732) 433-6640.

NYS FFAI Fundraiser

A Special Night of Song and Story

hosted by The Quiet Man Public House & AOH Division 18 Peekskill
Tuesday March 12 6pm Band @ 7pm

Concert & Buffet $30

Cash Bar

The Return of Ireland’s Number 1 Rebel Band

A Night Of Lively Irish Music you will not forget!

The Druids

New York State Board
Ancient Order Of Hibernians
Freedom For All Ireland Committee
Fundraiser to Support for Irish Groups Dedicated to Peace with Justice
Dan Dennehy- Chairman of New York AOH FFAI Committee
Tickets & Information (914)588-2710

Long Beach Irish Day

The 23nd annual Long Beach Irish Heritage Day Parade and Festival will take place on Saturday Oct 6, 2012.

Long Beach Irish Day is simply a celebration of Irish culture.  The day begins with a family look and feel.  There is a parade with Pipe bands, Irish dancers, Irish music and more.  The early birds usually start arriving around 10am with the parade beginning around 12 noon.

As the day progresses families take the kids home for dinner and the pubs begin to fill with patrons.  Live Irish music and delicious Irish food and beverages are available all along the parade route. Irish vendors are also set up selling a huge amount of Irish merchandise.  It really is an event that is fun for all.

Irish 2000 Festival

For two days in mid-September, the Saratoga County Fairgrounds in Ballston Spa, NY is home to all things Irish as the 16th Annual Irish 2000 Music & Arts Festival takes place.

The festival, ranked one of the top five of its kind in the United States, kicks off with  non-stop music from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.  Friday, September 14. On Saturday, the festival gates open at 10 a.m. and performances continue until 11 p.m. with some of the best Celtic entertainment in the world.

“Irish 2000 has become a tradition — a grand celebration of midway to St. Patrick’s Day. Each year we welcome about 15,000 people to the Fairground’s for two days filled with music, dance and so much more,” said Festival Executive Director Matt Nelligan.


The not-for-profit Irish Music and Arts Festival, Inc. organizes the annual festival.  The goal of the organization is, “To preserve, protect and promote Irish history and culture in the 21st century.”

In addition to producing the festival, Irish 2000 also supports other non-profit organizations. Since its inception, the festival has donated more than $350,000 to a variety of charities.

Great Irish Fair

Friday, September 14, 2012 – 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Saturday and Sunday, September 15th & 16th, 2012 – 10:30 AM to 7:30 PM

A Family Friendly Event Celebrating New York City’s Great Irish-American Heritage & Culture

Join us and enjoy a day filled with:

Local musicians will be playing both traditional and contemporary Irish music both days. As in the past vendors and neighborhood pubs will recreate their venue for two days on the Fairgrounds offering great food and drink.

A separate area at the Fairgrounds will be set up with children’s inflatable rides and attractions.

The children will enjoy:

  • Inflatable Rides
  • Magic Shows
  • Face Painting
  • Balloonists and more…

Michael Davitt

In 1996, ground was broken for a new museum in the west of Ireland – in Straide, Co. Mayo, to be precise.  It is a museum dedicated to the life and accomplishments of one of Mayo’s most historic and best loved figures.  His name was Michael Davitt and he was born in Straide on March 25, 1846, as the second of five children. His parents, Martin and Sabina Davitt (nee Kielty), were tenants and the Davitt family was evicted by the landlord for non-payment of an excessive rent when Michael was only six years old.

As Martin emigrated to England seeking employment, Sabina refused shelter in the workhouse, which would break up her family.  They were given accommodation by the parish priest, Fr. John McHugh.  In 1845, Sabina and the children joined Martin who found work in Haslingden a mill town in Lancashire.  Martin was also a teacher of Irish music and language, so it was only natural that young Michael grew up as a native Irish speaker.

The family barely made ends meet, and in 1856, at the age of 10, young Michael had to take a job in a nearby cotton mill operating heavy machinery.  Hours were long, working conditions were atrocious and worker’s safety was the last consideration of the mill owner.  Consequently, two years later, at the age of 12, Michael was caught in the machine on which he was working and his right arm was severed.  Unable to work in the mill any longer, he was dismissed with no compensation.  He subsequently attended a Wesleyan school for two years, after which he worked for a printing firm.

To say that the young man was bitter about the treatment his family had received and that he subsequently endured, would be an understatement.  In 1865, he joined the IRB or Fenian Brotherhood, an organization dedicated to Irish independence.  Two years later he was  its organizing secretary in Northern England and Scotland.  He was arrested in London in 1870 while awaiting a delivery of arms and was sentenced to 15 years hard labor.  He spent the next seven years in prison isolation, compelled to work under inhuman conditions.  Intercession on his behalf by Isaac Butt and Charles Stewart Parnell of the Irish Parliamentary Party convinced the British that Davitt was effectively broken and he was released on a ticket of leave (parole) on December 19, 1877.

But Michael was not broken.  He had too many reminders of oppression to ever forget, from the frail old man that had once been his father to the prematurely old woman that had been his mother, to his own empty sleeve.  He knew that the cause of his people’s troubles was that they were prohibited from owning land.  He knew the landlord class for the leeches that they were and was determined to undermine and eliminate them.  After his release from prison, he toured America with the active assistance of the great Irish patriot John Devoy, gaining the support of Irish Americans for a policy called “The New Departure” which was based in the slogan “The Land for the People.”  He proposed non-violent action and parliamentary reform to bring about changes in the law.  This approach did not have the official approval of the Fenian leadership, many of whom were openly hostile to his methods.  Nevertheless, he subsequently became a member of the Supreme Council of the IRB.

In early 1879,  Davitt returned home to a country which was again experiencing near starvation. It was one of the wettest years on record, the potato crop had failed for a third successive year, and the traditional escape route of emigration was virtually closed due to a world wide economic depression stretching from America to Europe.  There was no choice but to stay at home and fight to change the system.  At a meeting in Claremorris, plans were made for a gathering at Irishtown on April 20, to demonstrate for reduced rents.  The meeting was  huge and the first target was land owned by a Canon Ulick Burke.  The result was an astounding success when the Canon was forced to reduce rents by 25%.  Davitt took his idea to Parnell and on August 16, 1879, the Land League of Mayo was formally founded in Castlebar.  On October 21, the National Land League was formed in Dublin with Parnell as President, and Davitt as Secretary.  From that time on, the Land War was fought in earnest.  British Prime Minister Gladstone at first replied with coercion, but with financial and moral support from the American Irish, the Land League fought back.  At one demonstration in 1881, they even added a new word to the dictionary when they defeated a landlord by ostracizing his agent from all services in a dispute over evictions – his name was Captain Boycott.

The crown passed the Land Act of 1881 to defuse the situation.  It promised fair rent, fixed tenure and free sale,  but the Land League deemed it insufficient.  The government reacted by arresting the leaders in an attempt to suppress the organization, but they could not stop the momentum.  Miss Anna Parnell formed the Ladies Land League and took over the agitation where the men left off.  The leaders were released.

After his release Davitt traveled widely campaigning ceaselessly for oppressed people everywhere.  He was becoming an international hero and his power was such that in 1885, the British government began the process of eliminating the evils of landlordism.

In 1892 Davitt was elected MP for Mayo but was impatient with Parliament’s unwillingness to right obvious injustices swiftly.  He left the House of Commons in 1896 with the prophetic prediction that “no just cause could succeed there unless backed by physical force.”   He had verified his beliefs that while force might be necessary to bring opposing parties to the table, it was only at the table that permanent changes could be made, for these are the ways of civilized men, and the only ways that have ever worked.

Michael Davitt remained a fighter for justice until his death in Dublin on May 31, 1906.  By the time of his death at age 60, the land of Ireland for the people of Ireland had become a reality, and Michael himself had become an international champion of liberty.  To mark the centenary of his birth in 1946, a major demonstrating was held in Straide, with an attendance of more than 12,000, included Eamonn De Valera.

Today, near the monument that covers his grave, is a  museum to his memory and to his accomplishments – not the least of which was to rescue his people from tyranny and set Ireland on the road to becoming the proud and accomplished member of the international community that she is today.  For this every Irish man owes a debt of thanks to a man named Davitt from Mayo.

Digital Digest Exclusive: Director’s Report

One of the greatest obligations we have as Hibernians is to pay our last respects to our deceased brothers. Those who have been our friends and mentors and have blazed trails for us to walk on in the years before us are ever deserving of our tributes and prayers at the time of their final Mass and their burials.  Their families and friends, at their time of morning, deserve our presence as a sign of respect and honor towards our deceased brethren.  On many occasions I have buried good friends, older Hibernians who have dedicated much to our Order.  For the first time I attended the funeral and burial of a young Hibernian.  Twenty six year old Shane Kelly of Pennsylvania Div. 61 was murdered as he protected his girlfriend during a holdup in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philly.  Shot in cold blood – a senseless act.  Shane was a rising star in the Hibernians.  An energetic young man, Shane was very active in his division and well respected by his division members no matter what their age.  As one Brother commented to me “Even as a young man, Shane showed great leadership.  I would have followed this man into battle any time.”  God Bless you Shane Kelly – may the Perpetual Light shine upon you, and may we all be better Hibernians after having you (for too short a time) in our Order.

I attended the book launch of Former Director (and newly minted “Life Member”) Pat Troy’s book titled “I have a story to tell.”  The launch took play at Pat Troy’s restaurant in Old Town Alexandria and was hosted by General (ret.) Stanley McCrystal – the former commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan. A tremendous crowd attended and was treated to stories about Pat’s life, fine Irish music and a long line to get books signed by this budding author.  I was honored to bring as a guest to the event; Irish Senator Mark Daley, who was in Washington representing the Irish Government on a number of issues including immigration and the new Irish Heritage Certificate.  Senator Daley is Kerry man and a fine gentleman who was very happy to see the fine works that the AOH is involved with in the States.

On Veterans Day, I was privileged to attend a fundraiser for the Military Archdiocese of the United States.  If you are a veteran, I think you realize the great works and efforts of Catholic Priests who serve in our armed forces throughout the world.  Please consider making a donation of your own to assist the only archdiocese that serves worldwide yet has no churches for collections – go to and click on the “Donate” button.

Over the past several months I have had numerous occasions to attend functions at the Irish Embassy here in Washington.  On one such occasion I had the opportunity to attend a welcoming reception for the newly arrived staff at the Embassy.  Six staff departed the post and only four have replaced them and will have to fill all of the previous staff responsibilities.  These are fine Irish men and woman who will spend at least the next four years here as diplomatic core.  I look forward to working with these professionals and assisting them in any way possible on behalf of the AOH as I can. Another occasion was joining members of the National Board and many AOH members from the DC Tri-State area to attend a reception hosted by Ambassador Collins and his lovely wife Marie in honor of OUR 175th Anniversary.  We have a wonderful working and personal relationship with Ambassador Collins and the Irish Government and it was a nice evening to reflect on our 175 year history and to anticipate the great works in the next 100 plus years ahead for the AOH.  During the reception we were honored to have Senator Leahy (D-VT) make a brief appearance to pay his respects to our Order.

The day after the Embassy reception, I joined Immigration Chair Dan Dennehy, Directors Jere Cole and Danny O’Connell, along with former National president Ed Wallace at the Capitol visitor’s center for a brief meeting with Senator Porter (R-OH) to request his support for some Irish immigration initiatives currently before the U.S. Congress.  We as an organization are forging long lasting relationships with members of Congress from both sides of the isle to help our cause and need to work with many organizations to negotiate and get our opinion known.

I had the pleasure of assisting with Mike McCormack our Historian and Tom Conway from New York at the National Council for the Social Studies conference which took place at the Washington, DC convention center.  For a short time, I helped Mike and Tom, these extremely dedicated members of our Order, with explaining what social study teachers should include Irish heritage and especially information about Commodore John Barry.  In the category of learning something new every day, a woman from southern Virginia told me of ancient Irish writing (Ogham) carved into a cliff in West Virginia dating back to the year 600 A.D. – over 1000 years before Columbus. And from an article written by Mike McCormack a few years ago (titled America’s First Christmas Cards) this believed it to be the world’s longest Ogham message and dated it between the 6th and 8th century.  This 3-line message, when deciphered, read, A happy season is Christmas, a time of joy and goodwill to all people.  The second line read; A virgin was with child; God ordained her to conceive and be fruitful.  Behold a miracle.  The third line read, She gave birth to a son in a cave.  The name of the cave was the Cave of Bethlehem.  His foster father gave him the name Jesus, the Christ, Alpha and Omega.  Festive season of prayer.