Diplomatic Meeting

Members of the AOH National Board and guests pose for picture with the Irish Ambassador after a luncheon he hosted in Washington at his residence. Pictured (L – R) Dan O’Connell Sr., Sean Pender, Jere Cole, Tom Brady, Brendan Moore, Seamus Boyle, Ambassador Michael Collins, Jim McKay, Ned McGinley, Dan Dennehy, Danny O’Connell, Joe Roach, Keith Carney.

Members of the National Board recently attended a luncheon at the invitation of the Irish Ambassador to the United States, Michael Collins. The luncheon was held at his residence not far from the Irish Embassy in Washington, DC.  The residence of the Ambassador of Ireland was built in 1924 and is historically named the Frederic Delano House after its original owner. Frederic Delano was a member of the Federal Reserve Board and uncle of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  The Irish Government purchased the house in 1965.

The AOH was represented by 10 members of the Board including Executive Board Members Seamus Boyle, Brendan Moore and Jim McKay. Jim McKay also serves as Honorary Consul in New Orleans for the Irish Government. In additional two other AOH members attended as guests.  The Ambassador was joined by his Diplomatic staff members Mr. Myles Geiran, First Secretary and Press and Information Officer and Mr. Adrian McDaid, Political Counselor.

Making note that the AOH is the largest Irish Catholic organization in the United States and that our membership reaches every community around the country, the Ambassador was intent on furthering the relationship with our organization and finding ways in which we can help each other further common goals. The luncheon fostered significant discussion on such important topics as immigration policy, the undocumented and community support for Irish immigrants.  In addition we discussed how the AOH and its members can help Ireland in the current economic climate through tourism, business opportunities for American companies, and enticing higher education opportunities now being promoted to the Irish Diaspora in the U.S.

Also a topic of conversation was the Ambassador’s suggestion that the AOH play leading roles in future historic commemorations such as the upcoming 1916 Anniversary. The Ambassador was measuring our strength and demographics in age and other areas. Upon learning of our focus on youthful recruitment he suggested that we associate with the Irish Networks starting up in major metropolitan areas in the U.S. and sponsored in part by the Irish Government.

The luncheon provided an open and candid dialog and showed that a fine relationship continues to develop between the AOH and the Irish Foreign Affairs Department. This is true not only at the Irish Embassy in Washington, DC but at Irish Consulates throughout the U.S.

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Catholic University of America

Pictured (L- R) meeting at Catholic University are Bob Sullivan and Dean Poos of CUA, Vice President Brendan Moore and Director Keith Carney.

In 1896, 8 years after Catholic University of America (CUA) was founded in Washington, DC, the AOH provided a gift in the amount of $50,000 to endow a Chair in Gaelic Languages and Literature. That endowed fund still exists at Catholic University today, under the title AOH Chair of Gaelic Language and Literature.  The AOH endowment was looked at with great suspicion by some at CUA when it was originally provided.  It was a unique and extremely generous gift at the time and it was only the second endowment the University had ever received, the first being in 1893 (in the amount of $30,000) by U.S. Catholic Bishops.  The only other Celtic department in the United States at that time was at Harvard.  Many at the University were suspicious of the AOH at the time actually frowned upon the gift for a Chair calling the organization a “secret society”.  One historic reference in a University correspondence of 1892 expressed the view that “this University Chair ought to labeled the ‘Murderers’ Chair.”

In 1983, Catholic University established The Center for Irish Studies which organized lectures and other co-curricular events relating to Irish history, literature, and culture. Subsequently, a Master’s Degree in Irish Studies program started in 1991.  The degree program required study of modern Irish language but enrollment in courses for that language included students who were not in the Irish Studies Master’s Degree program.  In 2009 the AOH discovered that Catholic University had shut down (if only temporarily) their Irish Studies program because of a shake up and abrupt departure of the acting chair of the department and other associated staff.

Vice President Brendan Moore (a Catholic University alum) and National Director Keith Carney recently met with representatives of Catholic University in Washington, DC to discuss the status of the AOH endowment at the University.  The meeting included the Dean Larry Poos of the English Department, Bob Sullivan – the head of Development for Catholic and Dr. Coilin Owens a professor currently teaching an undergraduate Gaelic Language class at CUA.  Many options are on the table on how to deal with the AOH endowment and CUA is determined to maintain the fund for use as close to its original intent as possible.  Director Carney had requested a status of the endowment provided by the AOH and was provided with a status of the account in October of 2010 – that account currently holds (according to the University’s document) over $215,000.

While the amount of money currently in the endowment is significant, it is not enough to pay to hire a full time dean to run a Gaelic Studies program.  The University could not comment on the accounting of the fund over the years but readily admitted that they had not invested “any” endowments well over the years (until recently).  Catholic University has several other endowments that support Irish studies, including the Rose Saul Zalles Chair in Celtic Studies, the John F. Kane Fund, and the Mary Moran Chair in Celtic Language.  The two former funds were the chief sources of funding for The Center for Irish Studies activities. While no conclusions were drawn at the meeting, the combining of the other endowments (similar in purpose) to better pool resources in order to fulfill the original intent for the funds was proposed.

The Washington, DC AOH recently organized a Division at Catholic University, named the Sons of Saint Aiden Division and have over 40 members (all college students) that is serving as a model for other College students looking to start divisions.

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In Convention

The 2010 – 2012 officers pictured (L to R) are seated – Seamus Boyle, president; Father Tom O’Donnell, chaplain; Brendan Moore, vice president. Standing – Tom McNabb, secretary; directors Keith Carney, Mike O’Connor, Chris Norris, Danny O’Connell, Jere Cole, and Bob Mott (Len Byrne stands in for Bob); and Jim McKay treasurer.

The 95th Biennial National Convention of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America gaveled in on the 7th of July and concluded on the evening of Saturday the 10th with celebratory installation dinner of newly-elected officers. This year’s convention featured prominent speakers and visitors from Ireland and the U.S. and featured tremendous breakout sessions including live video teleconference to Belfast via the Internet in a combined Immigration and FFAI report.  Attending members of the men and ladies, numbering nearly one thousand in total, were inspired by moving homilies and historic news of a positive report on the Bloody Sunday official report.

Irish Ambassador to America, Michael Collins, came from Washington to address the gathering.  He mentioned that the economy in Ireland was growing and that U.S. investment in Ireland was vital.  Ambassador Collins spoke of the ongoing efforts to better immigration policies and to bring the undocumented Irish living in America out of the shadows and give them a path to legalization and U.S. citizenship. One direct immigration policy effort on the part of the Irish government is their push for more E3 Visas that are designed to allow for greater entry into both the U.S. and Ireland.  He also discussed his government’s efforts to connect with the 40 million Irish Americans and encouraged all Hibernians to come “home” and visit Ireland.

Also addressing the Hibernians was Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuiness. “I thank all the members of the AOH and LAOH down through the years. We share a single object of Irish reunification but by purely peaceful and democratic means. I am pound of the AOH, the LAOH and the bulk of Irish America.”

He addressed the recent apology from the British Prime Minister that acknowledged those who died on ‘Bloody Sunday’ were murdered by the British Army. However,   McGuiness said he recognizes and sympathizes with the loss endured by Unionists and others, in other communities, due to the actions of Irish Republicans. “We have all suffered grievous loss and no one was exempt over that period. Commenting on the progress that has been made he said, “Through all this progress we are constantly aware of the fact that we have been accompanied by the AOH, the LAOH and our friends in Irish America, and the United States political establishment from Bill Clinton to George Bush to Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.”

The business of the convention included a number of resolutions passed and the elections of officers.  The AOH reaffirmed through a resolution to again proceed with an active Notre Dame fund.  Immigration has always been an important issue to the AOH. As a result, a resolution was passed that appoints an Immigration Chair at all levels of the Order, State and County Boards and on the Division level.  A dues increase of four dollars was approved by the body – the first national dues increase in over 25 years.

Attending the convention from the Board of Erin were President Jimbo Crossin and Trustees Gerry Harkin and Charles (We Charlie) McLaughlin.  To encourage “brother” relationships with Ireland’s Board of Erin, the Convention resolved to encourage the growth of the Order in Ireland. As a result, a resolution was presented that expresses the belief that the AOH in Ireland would greatly benefit by the support, love and assistance of their brothers in America. The resolution passed that encourages “brother’ relationships with corresponding jurisdictions with Ireland’s AOH Board of Erin.

The AOH historically has had more Divisions in the east, which has allowed for the election of Directors from that area. Because the South, Midwest and West are desirous of equal representation, the Convention resolved to appoint a committee to investigate the issue of under-representation in those aforementioned regions. It was resolved to appoint a committee to investigate the issue and present a solution at the next national convention. The measure passed.

Another resolution was referred to the Anti-Defamation Committee for further action. It petitioned the National Board to ask for the removal of Real Time with Bill Maher from HBO’s programming due to his consistent, insulting, anti-Catholic banter.

On Saturday evening the prestigious John F. Kennedy Memorial Award was presented to Siobhan Dennehy for her work on Immigration. The medal is a joint AOH-LAOH award given to “a Roman Catholic of Irish birth or descent outstanding in their field of endeavor.

Upon learning of the award Dennehy said she was “absolutely overwhelmed and amazed”. I had only heard of the award before and the magnitude of it; I could ever imagine to be nominated.”  Dennehy is a nationally-recognized leader on all issues related to Irish immigration. “There are an estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the U.S.,” she said.

The work of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, as well as all the Immigration Centers in the US continue to serve that cause on a daily basis. My pleasure in receiving the JFK Award is heightened by the fact that many centers are now such valued resource for the immigrant community.  She and her husband Dan are the parents of daughters Cara and Ashling.

“Emigration to America represents a new opportunity, and our people by and large, make good lives for themselves here.  For many, emigration is never an easy option; but it can be their only option.  We know that emigration presents some people with very particular difficulties; they can, for instance, find themselves adrift and marginalized.  The people who offer front-line assistance and advice services to the vulnerable Irish provide, therefore, a critically important support structure.”

Six National Director positions were up for grabs.  Elected were Danny O’Connell, Girard, OH; Robert J. Mott, Myrtle Beach, SC; Keith Carney, Washington, DC; Jere Cole, Rockaway Township, NJ; Mike O’Connor, Helena, MT and Christopher Norris, Williamsport, PA.

Unopposed for officer positions were National President Seamus Boyle, Philadelphia, PA; Vice President Brendan Moore, Blue Point, NY; Secretary Thomas D. McNabb, Auburn, NY and Treasurer James McKay, New Orleans, LA;

The 2012 convention will find the AOH and Ladies AOH convening at the Turning Stone Resort located just north of Syracuse, New York (www.turningstone.com).  It was also agreed that the 2014 convention will be held in St. Louis, Missouri.

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The Digest Goes Digital

Online Editor Joe McDonald

After months of preparation, the Hibernian Digest has entered the digital age.  The new Digital Digest will be linked through our national website www.AOH.com and will include an ever expanding archive of articles from past print editions.  In addition to the print articles, the site has been designed to offer expanded space for more content not currently able to make it into the printed edition mailed to all members.  The Digital Digest will also include a large expansion of pictures associated with articles submitted by members.  Keith Carney, editor of the Digest commented, We have numerous pictures submitted by members that only make it to the cutting room floor because of limited space.  But pictures tell great stories of the life and times of our Order and it the Digital edition now provides us with the perfect mechanism to bring them to the membership through the Internet.

Carney named New York brother Joe McDonald as the new online editor.  Joe joined the AOH back in 2007 and has vast experience in website creation and management.  He is currently the Vice President of the Mike Moran Division 8 in Glen Cove, NY and the Webmaster of Nassau County. Joe also serves on the Nassau County Hibernian Feis committee, designing and running the festival’s website.  Joe, 40, comes to the Hibernian Digest with seven years of experience in the sports media. He currently serves as Assistant Editor of Mets Inside Pitch Magazine, Assistant Online Editor of Baseball Digest, and publishes his own sports website NYSportsDay.com, covering the New York Mets, New York Rangers, and the US Tennis Open himself. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and also the United States Tennis Writers Association.  In 2006, Joe opened up his own web design firm Damocles Designs, where he specializes in site design and search engine optimization. With all the changes to the media over the past seven years, I am very happy to help bring the Hibernian Digest online, McDonald said. I hope this website will help spread the motto of ‘Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity’ to a greater audience. Joe currently lives in West Hempstead, NY with his wife Liz and 20 month-old daughter Jamie Ann. He also has a six year-old son Joseph Patrick.

The digital Digest will include electronic advertising controlled by the national board and it is hoped that it will be able to begin generating revenue in the next few months once the site gains some popularity.  The site will also include a comprehensive archive of previously printed Digests in the popular Adobe Acrobat .pdf format.

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