45th Annual Nassau County AOH Feis

The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) is sponsoring their 45th Annual Nassau County Feis on Sunday, September 17, 2017 at Nickerson Beach Park in Lido Beach, Long Island. “Feis” is an Irish word for a festival celebrating many aspects of Irish culture. In recent years that term has become increasingly associated with indoor events limited to Irish stepdancing competitions.

The Nassau County Feis retains the rare distinction of being a full Feis, in the traditional meaning of of that term, in that it showcases not only Irish stepdancing competitions (over 500 dancers are expected this year), but also a full menu of Gaelic bagpiping, traditional Irish music and song, Irish language activities, games, sports… and even baking!

Significantly, Long Island’s annual Feis also retains an important characteristic once shared by all Feiseanna (plural for Feis): all the activities take place outdoors, on the shores, no less, of the mighty Atlantic Ocean. Residents of communities on Ireland’s Atlantic coast are sometimes heard to boast that they live in “the next parish to America”; what with the evocative activities and dramatic setting, attendees at Feis might be forgiven for feeling that they are visiting New York’s “next parish to Ireland”!

Highlights of the day include:

Irish Stepdancing: The Feis features a full range of competitions and demonstrations of traditional Irish stepdancing. The dancers perform intricate steps, often arrayed in dazzlingly colorful outfits, dancing jigs, reels, hornpipes and set dances.

Gaelic Bagpiping: Both individual pipers and drummers, as well as full pipe bands, compete in a number of levels of competition. The pipers play the “píob mhor”, the “big pipes” familiar to lovers of Gaelic music around the world, shared by people of both Irish and Scottish heritage and all those who share their love of this stirring music. The pipe bands join in a parade around the Feis grounds at midday and an unforgettable musical spectacle takes place before the close of the Feis, when all the musicians join together in a thunderous performance of the “massed bands”.

Traditional Irish Music and Song: Individual musicians demonstrate their talents and compete for prizes on a number of instruments, including the fiddle, tin whistle, flute, accordion, all forms of bagpipes, drums and keyboards, or any other instrument of their choice. Singers do the same, and judges have been known to award extra points for songs sung in the Irish language.

Irish Language Activities: This year the famed Gerry Tobin Irish Language School, “Scoil Ghaeilge Gheróid Tóbín ”, will be returning to the Feis to assist with Irish language activities. A tent will be erected where visitors may drop in for “ceol agus craic” (music and fun) a “cupán tae” (a cup of tea), listen to conversation and recitation “as Gaeilge” (in the Irish language) and even learn a “cúpla focail” (a few words), in the Irish language.

Irish Art: The work of artists showing various Irish and Celtic themes will be displayed throughout the day and a panels of judges will award prizes.

Soda Bread Contest: This is one of the most hotly-contested events of the day is the day. There are as many styles of Irish soda bread as there are bakers, and spectators are free to taste the entries and make their own decisions once the judges are finished.

The Feis features vendors selling Irish goods and food is available. Visitors are free to bring their own picnic baskets, food and drink (no grills, please), chairs, tents and blankets. A Catholic Mass is celebrated at noon and a dance band will be playing throughout the afternoon. There is ample parking and lots of space to spread out. Tickets of $10 each and are obtained at the gate; children under 12 enter for free. Please join us and enjoy a great taste of Irish culture on the shores of Long Island. You’ll be guaranteed a “céad míle fáilte (“a hundred thousand welcomes”) when you do!

For more information call or text Robert P. Lynch at 516-782-7494, email: anpiobaire@aol.com.

Nassau County Major Degree

AOH Shamrock & Major Degree

St. Martin of Tours, Bethpage
220 Central Avenue, Bethpage, NY 11747

St Martin of Tours in Bethpage is a short 10 Minute walk from the LIRR Bethpage Station. St. Martins of Tours will have a Mass at 11:30 a.m. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m.  The Degree will start at 1:00 p.m.

Admission for candidates is free.  Please be advised that there will be a nominal charge for observers to cover the cost of food and refreshments.

Mineola Parade

The Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk and Queens presents the 63rd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Mineola. This year the Grand Marshal will be PJ Sexton with Louise McCann, Maureen Clark, AOH Member Eddie Friel, and Patrick J. Smith as Aides.

Nassau County, NY, remembers Easter Rising

On Easter Monday 2012, more than 100 people attended the annual Easter Uprising memorial service in Mineola, NY. At a location behind the courthouse stands the now completed Irish Easter Rising Memorial, a testament to those who gave their lives for Ireland’s freedom. 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, Irish Northern Aid, The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, the Irish Americans in Government, the Brehon Law Society of Nassau County, and the Irish Studies Program of Hofstra University.

The ceremony, which was headed this year by the Police Emerald Society, included remarks from Deputy Consul General of Ireland Peter Ryan and Sinn Fein politician and Seanad Erirann Senator Kathryn Reilly about the peace process in Ireland.

Also in the ceremony the Proclamation of 1916 was read along with readings of Sean O’Casey’s eulogy and “The Rose Tree” by William Butler Yeats. The memorial concluded with a laying of a wreath at the monument.

“First dedicated in 1979, the monument has been a continuing work in  progress requiring renovation,” said master of ceremonies Donal Mahoney. “I have been pleased and proud to be part of the process of the monument as it has gone through various stages of renovation and refurbishment.”

Mahoney notes the Monument Committee has brought together a host Irish organizations on Long Island and has drawn together the Irish American community “with the government of Ireland which has been absolute.”

The monument has been located behind the Nassau County Court House since 1979, albeit unfinished. In 1993 it was rededicated and renovated.  Recently, Irish groups throughout Long Island decided to complete and renovate the project. Three 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. Flowers, lights and a walkway were added two years ago and this year, to finish it off, benches were installed and the plaques were placed back onto the memorial.

The Monument Committee also started a customized brick program to be placed in the paving stones around the monument for all the sponsors of the project.

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New York News

On Sunday, June 5, 2011 The AOH Nassau County Board held their convention. The newly elected slate of officers are pictured (L – R) Seated: Vice President Sean O’Rourke; NY State President Chip McLean; President Michael Byrne; NY State Secretary Jim Burke; Recording Secretary Tim Myles. Standing: Sentinel Ken Ferguson; Standing Committee Peter Begley; Financial Secretary Bill McGough; Treasurer Jack Ryan; Marshal Rich O’Neill.

Div 1 Yonkers held its local 175th anniversary celebrations at its recent Divisional meeting. Several local politicians stopped by with proclamations that included New York State (pictured), Westchester County Legislature, the Westchester County Executive, and the City of Yonkers.

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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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