Historical Happenings for March 2016

Saint Patrick’s Escape

saint_patrick

by Mike McCormack, AOH NY State Historian

Tripartite Life of St. Patrick

Tripartite Life of St. Patrick

Many versions of the life of St. Patrick exist.  This includes The Tripartite Life of St. Patrick in the Book of Armagh which is made up of three homilies on St. Patrick by St. Fiacc, former Bard and Bishop of Leinster; Tirechan, a 7th century Bishop in Mayo; and Muirchu, a 7th century monastic historian as well as biographies by St, Evin and many others.  However taking facts from his own autobiographical Confessio, more than the writings of those who venerated him in later years and tried to glorify his reputation, we get a more intimate picture of the remarkable man behind the saint.

From reliable sources, we know that our patron Saint was named Maewyn Succat when raiders of Irish High King Niall of the Nine Hostages kidnapped him, at about age 16, from his home on the west coast of Wales.  He was sold to a Chieftain named Miluic near Ballymena in County Antrim.  As St. Patrick, Succat later wrote that he had worked as a slave, tending flocks on Mount Slemish (from the Irish: Sliabh Mis), sleeping in the cold, and often going hungry.  We know that he came from a Christian family for his father was a deacon and during his captivity, he turned to God, praying night and day.  One night, in a dream he heard the voice of God tell him that a ship was ready to take him away and, after six long years of penance, prayer and suffering, he escaped.  He wrote that God had humbled him in captivity and under His special guidance was able to return to his own country.  The details of his escape are sketchy and there has been a difference of opinion regarding the port from which he made his escape however, in his own later writings, St. Patrick tells us that the port from which he sailed was about 200 (Roman) miles from Slemish.

St. Patrick's Confessio

   St. Patrick’s Confessio

When writing his Confessio many years later, St. Patrick was well acquainted with distances in Ireland, especially between Antrim and Mayo, which in his mission he had traveled many times.  Further, 200 Roman miles is about 185 English miles, and the port of Killala in Mayo happens to be about that distance from Mount Slemish.  Wicklow is also that distance but he wouldn’t be likely to head south for that would bring him along the east coast through the most populated part of the country where a runaway slave would almost certainly be re-captured.  The Tripartite states that Miliuc pursued Succat to bring him back, but the light-footed youth was able to evade his pursuers.

Killala, Mayo Round Tower

Killala, Mayo Round Tower

Another reason to favor Killala is that the Wood of Focluth was there along the shore of the western sea.  The Saint tells us more than once that it was from that Wood of Focluth that a youth (angel?) named Victoricus brought him  letters calling him back to Ireland and it was the voice of those who dwelt by the Wood of Focluth that invited him, holy youth come once more and walk among us as before.  These words imply that he stayed among people who lived by Focluth Wood for a while and that can only have been when he was escaping.  We don’t know how long he stayed at Focluth Wood before he found a ship, but he must have lodged a while  with those who took him in after his escape.  Seemingly, he was received with genuine hospitality – a tradition among the Irish.  He was a fugitive, hungry, foot-sore, and friendless, when he came seeking food and shelter.  It may have been in return for work performed, but either way it was most likely here that the runaway slave befriended the children whose voices afterwards called him back to Erin.  Still full of religious fervor and gratitude to God who was guiding his escape, he was moved by the fact that these children would grow up without knowing the true God and it is likely that here the idea first came to him of one day returning to rescue those young souls from spiritual exile by teaching them about the true God.  Gratitude was a striking trait in the character of St. Patrick, and it is most evident here.  Ever after, they were on his mind and he never rested until he turned his steps back toward the western sea, to lead them into the light of the Gospel.  It is one of the most touching incidents in the whole history of our great Apostle. Focluth Wood is one of the most interesting places referred to in the biographies of St. Patrick and its name is reflected in the modern town land of Foghill, just south of Lackan Bay.  In olden times Focluth Wood extended from the head of Lackan Bay to Killala.  Killala was, and still is, a great harbor with many quiet coves where the lighter craft of the time could easily glide in and out with the tide.  The trees of Focluth Wood surrounded these quiet coves, for as yet there was no Killala until St. Patrick later founded a church there.  It was in one of those coves, that the ship was waiting, by Divine providence, to carry the most precious passenger ever to sail from the shores of holy Ireland.

The Life and Writings of St. Patrick

The Life and Writings of St. Patrick

About two miles north, near the point where the Rathfran River enters the bay; there is a low-lying ridge of rocks, still referred to as St. Patrick’s Rocks.  Just above these rocks is the small bay where French ships, under General Humbert, landed in 1798 and that may have been where Patrick’s ship was drawn up on the sandy beach.  The Most Rev. Dr. Healy, Archbishop of Tuam, in his Life of St Patrick in 1905, wrote that his research led him to believe that the place where the ship docked was in the inner harbor of Killala, close to the spot where St. Patrick long after built a church, a remnant of which still stands.  Either way, the coast around Killala seems to fit the bill.  St. Patrick wrote that on the day the ship was about to start on her voyage, he asked to be taken on board as a passenger, but the captain angrily rebuffed him.   He left to return to the hut where he was staying and on the way, began to pray and before his prayer was finished he heard one of the crew shouting, Come back quickly, they are calling you.  St. Patrick later wrote, I immediately returned and they said to me: ‘Come with us, we will take thee in good faith,’ which Archbishop Healy interprets as meaning on credit.  In St. Patrick’s writings he refers to an unexplained tradition of servitude which he refused to do but his prayerful plea must have touched them for he wrote, I had some hope that they might come to the faith of Christ; therefore I kept with them, and forthwith we set sail.  Much of the account of the incident is obscure for the original text is corrupt.

The Tripartite states that he was bound for the Roman Province of Britain in a 3-day voyage.  Any craft of the time could easily make the western coast of Scotland or Wales (then called Britain) in three days.  Though we don’t know exactly where they landed, we do know that they had many dogs with them.  It is possible they were a hunting party heading for the Scottish highlands and the great Caledonian Forest.  We know from the bardic tales of Finn MacCool that Irish warriors often hunted in Caledonia.  Another reason for the trip could have been the sale of wolfhounds which were valued by the Romans in Britain as combat animals in games.

In his Confessio, St. Patrick wrote, After three days we made land, and then for twenty-eight days traveled through a desert.  They had no food, and were sorely pressed with hunger.  Then one day the captain said to me ‘Well, now, Christian, you say your God is great and omnipotent.  Why can you not then pray for us, for we are in danger of perishing from hunger, and we can hardly see anywhere a single human being’.  Thereupon I plainly said to them, ‘Be ye truly converted to the Lord my God, to whom nothing is impossible, that He may send food in your way and you may be filled for He hath abundance everywhere’.  And so, through God’s help, it came to pass.  A herd of swine appeared on the road before their eyes, and they killed many of them, and remained there for two nights until they were well refreshed.  Then they gave great thanks to God, and I was honored in their eyes.

Chronical of the Picts and Scots

Chronicle of the Picts and Scots

Such is St. Patrick’s account of his journey.  The story is consistent with hunters losing their way in a great forest and, seeing neither game nor men, being reduced to the verge of starvation, but St. Patrick called it a desert!  There is no great desert anywhere on the west coast from Scotland to Wales.  However, in the early fifth century, the Caledonian Forest was not a forest of tall trees as we know a forest, but rather an immense extent of scrub and bush.  It was, in truth, a barren land, as the Tripartite calls it: empty and deserted.  The question was answered by an ancient description of Scotland found in the Chronicle of the Picts and Scots published by H.M. General Register House in 1867; it mentions the mountains and deserts of Argyle!   And Succat was on his way home.

Patrick tells us no more in his Confessio about his friends from Killala. We don’t know what became of them although it is significant that he did return, not only to walk among them once more, but to build them a church.

Trinity College Begins Free Online Lecture Series About the Making of Modern Ireland

 

TCD Logo

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has begun a free online history course to explain the Easter Rising and its origins. The 14 week course, which is available on YouTube and iTunes, is aimed at both the general public and teachers and students.  It is hosted by Professor Patrick Geoghegan and involves experts within the college on the various formative events of Irish history.

The first week features a lecture on the 1641 rebellion, a largely-forgotten event which soured relations between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland for centuries.

Other videos released this week include one on the significance of the Proclamation, the influence of Trinity College Dublin graduate Edmund Burke and TCD’s role in the Easter Rising.

Each week will feature a different theme around Ireland’s struggle for independence.

View the series here.

 

Source: The Irish Times

Archbishop Hughes Memorial Dedication

Archbishop John HughesThe Archbishop Hughes Memorial will be unveiled on Sunday, November 22, 2015 by His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan at The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in SoHo/Little Italy downtown Manhattan in the area formerly known as the Five Points. It is fitting that there will finally be a lasting tribute to the legendary Archbishop John Hughes also known as “Dagger John”, a native of Tyrone, Ireland.   It is hard to believe, the unveiling of the Archbishop Hughes Memorial and the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral is almost upon us. The monument was erected this past Saturday and is amazing. The contributions from the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, and The Knights of Columbus have been strong and made this possible. We want to make sure you have the opportunity to celebrate this event. There are many events planned over the entire weekend, starting with a reception Thursday night (11/19) at the Fighting 69th Armory, all the way up to the Sunday Vespers and memorial unveiling by Cardinal Dolan (11/22).  Click  here for a promotional piece on the unveiling of the monument and the final event in the 6 year celebration of the 200th Anniversary of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral.  Click here for the Sunday 11/22 agenda and click here for a list of events throughout the weekend celebration. There are no tickets and cost for the Sunday Vespers event. It will be general seating on a first come basis. There will be overflow seating in the Youth Center.

Please contact Thomas Beirne, District 4 Director, NY State Board AOH with any questions and to RSVP for any of the weekend events.

Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral

Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral

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

Henry Healy joins Ireland Reaching Out

Loughrea, Galway, June 27th 2012, Henry Healy, community leader and high profile cousin of the current US President Barack Obama has joined Ireland Reaching Out, the national Diaspora initiative piloted in South-East Galway in 2011 and being rolled out nationally through 2012/2013. His new role as Ireland XO Community Activation Leader will involve visiting parishes and parish groups around Ireland introducing the Ireland XO organisation and objectives and working with them to reach out and engage with their Diaspora around the world.

Commenting on Henry’s appointment, Ireland Reaching Out Chairman and Founder Mike Feerick said that “Henry is the perfect person to work with parishes around the country on harnessing the benefits and potential of reaching out to their Diaspora. What the community in Moneygall have done is an inspiration to every local Irish community, yet every Irish parish has both high and low profile connections around the world who are very interested in learning more about and becoming involved in the parishes of their ancestors. Henry Healy stated that “I am truly delighted to become part of this innovative and highly energetic organisation. I believe in the power of the Diaspora and the powerful and positive contribution it can make over the long term to Irish people, at home and abroad. I am looking forward to working with parishes across Ireland through the coming year”

The Ireland XO is working in close partnership with the Gathering 2013 initiative which is preparing to invite an additional 340,000 visitors to Ireland through the end of 2013, and also with local county council and LEADER groups. Shannon Development, the economic development agency for the Mid-West is leading the adoption of Ireland XO in 376 parishes in its area with the assistance of local authority and LEADER organisations. Parishes across Ireland who are not yet involved in Ireland XO or the Gathering 2013 initiative are encouraged to contact the Ireland XO Headquarters in Loughrea, Co Galway. Henry Healy will be joining Ireland XO Parish Liaison Officer John Joe Conwell at promotional Gathering 2013 events in Castlebar, Co Mayo, Rathkeale, Co Limerick, and Thurles & Nenagh, Co Tipperary in coming weeks.

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Irish for Life

By Scott O. Schittl, President, Life House Ireland

 

On April 24, 1916 Padraic Pearse, Tom Clarke, Joseph May Plunkett, Thomas MacDonagh, Eamonn Ceannt, James Connolly, and Sean MacDermott let their men to strike for Irish Freedom.

Their heroic act – and that of the men fighting with them – has been known ever since as the Easter Rising, for that fateful day in 1916 was, in fact, Easter Monday.

As we , ourselves, have just celebrated Easter, and the date of the Rising is now behind us, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to an organization called Life House Ireland.

With the encouragement of your President Seamus Boyle and also of Danny O’Connell, your National Director I am writing about an urgent situation that reminds us why true Irish independence is such a fragile a precious gift, which we need to – still – struggle to keep alive.

In Ireland today, an interloping European court is right now insisting that Ireland change her pro-life laws to suit a more Liberal European aborting regime – in spite of the fact that most Irish people remain steadfastly pro-life!

In addition to being a grave insult to the Irish nation and people, we must call this intrusion from Europe what it is: Another form of tyranny!

Indeed, it makes a mockery of the Irish Constitution, over which so much sacrifice was made by our ancestors. It also makes a mockery of democracy and the right of a sovereign people to decide on life’s most fundamental issue.

To counter the terrible arrogance of the European courts, Life House Ireland has been set up as an American 501 C (3), to inform Irish-Americans about this situation, and also to help support the pro-life movement in Ireland. For more information about Life House Ireland, Please visit our website at: www.lifehoursireland.org and subscribe to our free, monthly, online newsletter.

So far, we have visited many AOH Divisions and Boards – where the men have shown great interest and support as demonstrated in the attached photo from Summit County St. Brendan’s Division 3.  Following our presentation, the brothers of St. Brendan’s unanimously approved a $500 donation plus committed all their 50/50 proceeds from their St. Patrick’s day celebrations. We would like to visit as many more as possible, and are eager to travel to visit you.

This is a new “struggle” – we don’t want this interloping European court telling Ireland to kill its Children.  It’s that simple, and this type of freedom is essential if Ireland is to retain true independence.

I have lived and worked in the Irish pro-life movement for 15 years, and am an Irish citizen by Naturalization.  My colleague Tim Jackson, is a Donegal man, who has put his life back in Ireland on hold, to help me give our presentations. If you would like to set up a visit, get a recommendation from one of your brother Presidents who has heard our presentation, ask any questions, or make a contribution, please call me or Tim on (240) 415-2382 ore write us at office@lifehouseireland.org

As we remember Easter Week of 1916, let’s also pray that Ireland will not o down the road of the Culture of Death, but rather, that she is helped to retain one of her finest traditions – that of being pro-life.

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Hibernians to Present MacBride Award to Belfast’s Clara Reilly

MacBride Award Chairman/AOH National Vice President Brendan Moore and MacBride Award Representative/LAOH National Vice President Maureen Shelton announced that Clara Reilly, Northern Ireland human rights crusader, has been selected as the 2011 MacBride Award recipient based on balloting conducted among National Board members and State Presidents of both the AOH and LAOH.

The purpose of the prestigious Sean MacBride Humanitarian Award is specifically stated in the AOH National Constitution: To memorialize the human rights contributions made by Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Sean MacBride and to recognize the efforts of others who make similar contributions in the cause of peace, justice, and the economic well-being of the Irish people.  Moore stated that “nominees for the MacBride Award are outstanding individuals derived from within and outside of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians. Actual voting takes place only after those eligible to vote have had ample time to study and reflect on the biographies of all those who have been nominated.”

Despite raising six small children when internment in Northern Ireland was introduced, having all male members of her family interned, and subsequently losing two brothers and a cousin in the conflict, Clara Reilly’s name became synonymous with justice in Ireland. The 1970’s saw her documenting arrests of Nationalists, taking prisoner statements, and ensuring legal representation for those detained by the Royal Ulster Constabulary. While frantic relatives sought news of family members, she telephoned across Belfast and across the Six Counties on a daily basis seeking the whereabouts of those removed from their homes and as well as those arrested on the streets.

Reilly gradually emerged as a frontline advocate for her besieged community. She negotiated with senior Royal Ulster Constabulary and British army officers on behalf of those being victimized. She later lobbied the Irish government to initiate action against the British in the European Court on Human Rights, where Britain was eventually found guilty of both torture and inhumane treatment. Working with human rights attorney Pat Finucane, successful litigation forced the British army to end its random arrests for “screening “purposes. Reilly went on to found the Campaign Against Plastic Bullets and became the Founder and Co-Director of Relatives For Justice, a support group for families of those injured or killed in the conflict.

Recently asked if she now has any regrets about committing thirty-five years of her life to the tremendously difficult campaign to promote justice and equality in Northern Ireland, Clara Reilly unhesitatingly responded: “I have never regretted one day of my work for human rights, despite the highs and lows of that struggle.” Moore concluded: “Clara is assuredly a most worthy recipient of our Sean MacBride Humanitarian Award, which will be presented to her in conjunction with the AOH National President’s Testimonial Dinner in Philadelphia on October 8, 2011.”

 

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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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AOH/LAOH National Convention Homily

After National Chaplain, Father Tom O’Donnell, delivered the homily at the closing Mass of the AOH/LAOH Convention, his remarks were the talk of the convention.  There were so many seeking copies of his words that President Boyle authorized their reproduction on the front page of your National Digest.  We even procured a photo of Father Tom’s father, the patriot Bartley O’Donnell, as a young man.  This is what Father Tom had to say:

It is very appropriate that we are celebrating the closing Mass of the 2010 National AOH and LAOH Convention at this beautiful Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains. Just as St. Peter was held in chains by the Romans prior to his martyrdom, the Irish people have been held in chains far too long by the British government. Today we are celebrating this Mass for the intention of Peace and Reconciliation and to pray for the many thousands of Irish martyrs who have died as a result of British tyranny – the thousands who died of starvation in An Gorta Mor, the Great Irish hunger of the 1840’s, the heroes of the 1916 War for Independence, the fourteen martyrs of  Bloody Sunday of January 30, 1972, the ten Hunger Strikers of 1981 and the hundred of other innocent men, women and children who have died as a result of the troubles over the years.  All of these brave people had these goals in common – peace and justice, faith and freedom, and One Island, One Ireland with Justice for all.

There are not too many people, let alone a Catholic Priest, who would admit that their father spent time in jail. However, I am proud to admit that my father, Bartley O’Donnell, was incarcerated and was a prisoner 0f the British. When the Irish War for Freedom and Independence began on Easter Week of 1916, my dad was not quite sixteen years old.  He was saddened by the news that the uprising was crushed after one week and that the Freedom Fighters became martyrs for the sake of Irish Independence.  My father’s desire to be able to practice his Catholic faith and be free from British oppression inspired young Bartley and his brothers to join the Galway Volunteers, a provisional wing of the Irish Republican Army.  My dad and my uncles were motivated by the symbol and the words of the O’Donnell family crest which they saw tacked above the door of their humble farm home near Woodstock, in Galway.  The family crest contains a hand holding a cross with the words: ‘With this sign, thou shall conquer.”

For several years my young teenage father and his brothers engaged in commando activities.  My dad told me how they hid in the woods near their thatched room home and destroyed several British trucks which were carrying supplies and munitions back and forth along the main road from Clifden to Galway City. Eventually, the revolutionary activity of the O’Donnell brothers was reported by informers and my dad and my Uncle Tom were arrested by the Black and Tans and thrown into the Galway jail.  Dad and Uncle Tom tried to dig a tunnel to escape but the tunnel collapsed on them and they were recaptured. My father spent a total of six months incarcerated in the Galway jail. His faith and his desire for freedom sustained him during his time in prison.

The heroic efforts of the Martyrs of the Easter Rising and many young Irishmen like my father laid the foundation for the Anglo-Irish agreement and the establishment of the Irish Free State in   1922.  However, for all the Irish people the treaty was a bitter pill to swallow since the six counties of the Northern Ireland were separated from the twenty six counties of southern Ireland and remained handcuffed and in chains to the British reigns.

On Sunday, January 30, 1972 as the residents of Derry were engaged in a peaceful Civil Rights protest, fourteen people were murdered by the British paramilitaries.  Seven of the fourteen who were killed were teenagers, including six who were only seventeen. They were innocent of any wrong doing. On that Bloody Sunday a dark cloud descended over Derry City and remained for thirty eight years until Tuesday, June 15, 2010. On that day, about one month ago, the ghost of the British Army was banished from the streets and the dignity and pride of the people of Derry returned as the Lord Saville report exonerated the Bloody Sunday martyrs of any wrongdoing. Prime Minister David Cameron offered an extraordinary apology for the 1972 killings of the unarmed demonstrators by the British soldier saying that the long awaited judicial inquiry left no doubt that the Bloody Sunday killings were both unjustified and unjustifiable. Mr. Cameron went on to relate that there was no justification for the shooting of the civilian casualties. One of the most damaging sentences in the Saville report stated that one of the victims was shot while crawling away from the soldiers and another while he was lying mortally wounded on the ground.

The young Hunger Strikers of 1981 were all martyrs for the sake of their Catholic faith and freedom for all Ireland. These heroes were confined in the H-Blocks of the Maze prison, more infamously known as Long Kesh.  These ten Republican prisoners went on a hunger strike with five demands, the most potent being that they refused to be treated as criminals. After the hunger strike was completed these ten brave Irishmen had made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives for what they believed in – that they had the right to practice their Catholic faith and the right to be free Irishmen.

This hunger strike of 1981 was one of, if not the most influential periods in the Irish Republican Army’s long campaign to remove Britain’s role from Irish politics. It not only thwarted Britain’s plan to criminalize the IRA prisoners in the H-Blocks, but concentrated world wide media attention on the war in Ireland, paving the way for Sinn Fein’s entrance into the political arena and the electoral successes that have followed. These ten Republican volunteers paid the ultimate sacrifice in the summer months of 1981. Their names will be forever written in the hearts and minds of all people in Ireland and abroad.

As their lives were ebbing away, the Bloody Sunday Martyrs and the Hunger Strikers were sustained by their deep and abiding faith.  They had the same faith as St. Peter. When Jesus asked Peter; “Who do you say that I am? “  Peter replied: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Christ then said to Peter: “Upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”  The martyrs of 1916 and the martyrs of 1972 and 1981 were sustained by their faith in Christ, the Son of the Living God, and their faith in their Catholic Church, a Church that will be here till the end of time and a Church that neither hell nor the British government can destroy.  For many centuries the British oppressors have tried not only to take away the freedom of the Irish people but their Catholic faith as well. But the words of Christ will always prevail “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” All of these Irish martyrs have given their lives to preserve the faith and the freedom of the people of Ireland.

Bobby Sands wrote in the last lines of his diary “If they weren’t able to destroy the desire for freedom, they won’t break you, they won’t be able to destroy me, because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the Irish people is in my heart. The day will dawn, when all the people of Ireland will have the freedom to show. It is then that we will see the Rising of the Moon.”

In the past thirty eight years since Bloody Sunday, there have been many significant gains and progress towards the freedom for all Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and its further implementation during the past several years is one step in the right direction. Unfortunately, sometimes with a measure of success, also comes apathy.  Some may think that the struggle for a peaceful reunification is over. However, we must remember that the dissidents will continue to fight to prevent and derail the unification process.  Therefore, it is of prime importance that we leave this convention with a new strength and purpose. We must continue to lobby our politicians on the National, State, County and Municipal levels to support the United Ireland Resolution, so that, God willing, we will have a United Ireland in 2016, the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising.

As Irish American Catholics and especially as members of the AOH and LAOH we must continue the peaceful fight and hope for the day when all Ireland will be free  and the six counties of the North will be  reunited to the twenty-six counties of the South and there will be a One Island, One Ireland with Justice for all, Because if even one county is not free, if one town is not free, if one village is not free, if one neighborhood is not free, if one family is not free, if one man is not free, if one woman is not free, if one child  is not free, all of Ireland remains in chains.

All of these Irish martyrs and my father, Bartley, will be forever connected by their deep and abiding faith in the cross and the belief that “with this sign thou shall conquer; with this Cross thou shall conquer.”   The Sign of the Cross has triumphed in Galway.   In 1955 the Cross rose triumphantly on top of the dome of the Galway Cathedral. This beautiful Cathedral, dedicated to St. Nicholas and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was erected on the site of the infamous Galway jail where my dad and many other brave Irish men were held prisoner by the British.  This magnificent Cathedral and its cross will forever be a sign that good will triumph over evil and that “with this Cross thou shall conquer.”  In the words of late broadcaster Paul Harvey: “That’s the rest of the story.”

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