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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AOH Celebrates 175

It was a truly historic weekend as members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and their friends gathered in New York to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Order.  Although it wasn’t until 1853 that the name Ancient Order of Hibernians was officially adopted, the organization grew out of a fusion of fraternal societies from Pennsylvania and New York which met in 1836 near Old St. James Church on James Street, later renamed AOH Way for the 150th Anniversary of the Order.  It is from that point that the AOH dates its origin.

The weekend began with the hospitality of Ireland’s Consul General to New York, Noel Kilkenny and his lovely wife, Honora, at their rooftop residence in mid-town Manhattan overlooking Robert Moses Park and the East River.  As traditional musicians, Scott Mattey, Stephen Gara, Donie Carrol and Jimmy O’Neill provided lively Irish tunes, an endless parade of hors d’ouvres and canopes paraded through the assembled guests – a literal who’s who of Irish America – gathered to congratulate the AOH on its milestone.  As the sun set over a breathtaking view of Manhattan’s lights emerging like an earthly constellation, AOH Div 7 invited all to a buffet dinner sponsored by the New York County Board at their nearby local ‘The Black Sheep Pub and Restaurant’ where the gaiety went on. Irish Counsel General in New York  Noel Kilkenny It is a huge honor for me to join you in celebrating 175 years of service to Ireland, Irish America, and your communities.  I have seen the work you do and read about your York history. And now you are celebrating 175 years of what you have done for the Irish.  The Irish in the past when things weren’t easy – in fact when it as very dangerous to be Irish here in this city and right across this country.  It is an occasion to celebrate that, to celebrate what you have achieved.  And you have achieved so much.  What about today? As I travel around I see the AOH in action today and yesterday, and please God tomorrow – not only in your Divisions but in almost every facet of Irish life in this city, Irish) I have found AOH members at the center of it:  they have founding it they have funded it, they have supported it, they have volunteered in it.  So as an organization you have a glorious past, but you also have a great presence… But what of tomorrow Hibernians? What of next year? What of 30 years from now? He added,         Kilkenny called on Hibernians to plan for the next 175 years. You are the largest Irish organization in this country – you are coast to coast – you are in every city, in every community. future of the Hibernians is not the bloodline from Ireland but is the children and grandchildren of our members. He called on the AOH to hare with them your history engage them in your communities, encourage them to join divisions and to have to play their part in Irish America and to think to the future.  The Irish government is here and we want you to re-engage in Ireland.

On Saturday morning, the gates of the city opened wide to receive hundreds of Hibernian men and women from as far away as Pittsburgh, Rhode Island and New Orleans and they formed up on Mulberry Street, just north of  the infamous Mulberry Bend.  The Bend was one of the worst parts of the old Five Points neighborhood in which arriving Irish immigrants were forced to live in the 1840s and 50s with many notorious back alleys like Bandit’s Roost, Bottle Alley and Ragpicker’s Row.  The Bend is gone now, replaced by Mulberry Bend Park and so are the Irish who were forced to live there in more biased times.  Just as the Irish marched out of the Five Points into American prosperity, the AOH paraded north on Mulberry Street to the church that has become the icon of the Irish experience in New York – the Basilica of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral – accompanied by four Hibernian Pipe Bands: Tara Pipes and Drums, Siol na hEireann, Glor na Gael and Orange County AOH Pipe Band.

Back in 1844, when Archbishop Hughes had called on the fledgling AOH to protect his church from a nativist threat, armed Hibernians lined the street in front of the Cathedral; on this day Hibernians again lined the street in front of the Cathedral, but this time it was Hibernian Pipe Bands and they were armed with pipes and drums; the massed band performance they provided would have made Archbishop Hughes proud.  The Mass in honor of the AOH milestone con-celebrated by the Pastor Monsignor Sakano, AOH National and Deputy National Chaplains, O’Donnell and Reid, and several AOH Chaplains and sung by the Hibernian Festival Singers.

Father O’Donnell’s homily read like a history lesson drawing in this wonderful spiritualism into the hearts of those gathered. The 175 year history of the AOH is intimately connected to the history of Old St Patrick’s Basilica. If it were not for the Irish and the Ancient Order of Hibernians the other historic events of this church may not have been possible.  In the 1830s there was a great deal of anti-catholic and anti-immigrant sentiment.  The need to defend the Cathedral against mob violence was not uncommon.  The “Know Nothing Party” organized Protestants to march against the Cathedral. Mobs and vigilante groups shouted anti-catholic epitaphs threatened the Cathedral and vowed to burn the Cathedral to the ground.  At this point Archbishop Hughes enlisted the Irish and in particular the Ancient Order of Hibernians to surround the walls of the Cathedral and safeguard the church. Then Archbishop Hughes wrote to the New York Mayor and told him, “Should one Catholic come to harm, or should one business be molested, we shall turn this city into a second Moscow.”  Although the AOH was able to save the Cathedral, they were not able to prevent the anti-papist mob who stoned the beautiful stained glass windows of both the church and the Bishops residence.  For 175 years the Ancient Order of Hibernians has continued to defend the church and its priests during times of both peace and turbulence.

Just as all of us who make up the Body of Christ give life to the bricks, stone, wood and steel of a church, likewise, the Ancient Order of Hibernians is more than just the AOH logo on a division building or the AOH emblem on the top of stationary.  Just as we are the living and breathing members of the Church so we must give live to our Hibernian virtues of Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity.  As members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians when we perform the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in our everyday lives, we are Christ to others. We are Christ when we protect the dignity of Human life from the first moment of conception until the time when our heavenly Father summons us to the Eternal Kingdom.  We are Christ to the world when we provide clothing for the homeless, provide meals for the hungry, and work at food banks so that poor families may have some nourishing meals.  We are Chris when we support the various Hibernian Charities not only by our material donations but by the gift of ourselves.  We are Christ when we fight for fair immigration laws not only for the Irish immigrants but for every immigrant who legally wishes to pursue freedom and the American dream.  We are Christ when we support seminarians and novices through Project St. Patrick and enable these men and women to pursue their vocations.  We are Christ when we provide scholarship funds for deserving students who wish to pursue their academic dreams.  We are Christ when we continue to fight for a free and independent Ireland so that perhaps by the centennial of the Easter Rising in 2016 we will have a united, free and independent Ireland.

As Hibernians we are alive, we are grateful for the glorious years of our past, but we must continue to be active in the present and be dynamically committed to the future because years from now we need future Hibernians to look back on us with the same aw with which we have looked back at 175 years of faithful and committed people.

The Mass was sung by the Hibernian Festival Choir under the direction of Maura Allen. This choir has performed at the White House and at many venues in Ireland, Canada and the U.S. and has always added to the solemnity of the liturgy. Ancient Order of Hibernians members were ushers and deacons who along with the altar servers under the guidance of a committee headed by past national director Martin Kelly of Brooklyn. Gifts presented by member Hibernians during the Mass included bread and wine, and in addition, a stature of St. Patrick, flags of the United States and Ireland, turf and potatoes, a model ship, and a Celtic cross.

After Mass, Monsignor Sakano invited all in attendance to a feast in the activities yard of the adjacent St. Patrick’s School where traditional music, food and beverage were plentiful and awards were presented to those responsible for the celebration. Hundreds of Hibernians and guests packed the old schools courtyard for food and drink and craic.  All were entertained by the band Celtic Justice and individual performers that included fiddler Scott Mettey and others.  The reception will be chaired by Sir Patrick Allen, a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and a brother Hibernian. Awards that included special plaques with bricks from the original church wall built by the original Hibernians were presented to the committee members who prganized the celebration.

Sunday morning dawned with the men and ladies of the AOH making their way to the tip of Manhattan and the oldest parish church in New York – St. Peter’ Church where a Mass was celebrated in memory of those AOH members and other victims of the cowardly attack on the World Trade Center right next door to the church.  After the Mass, a wreath was laid at the steel I-beam which remained standing amid the carnage in the shape of a cross and which has become an icon of faith and determination to recover.  It stands adjacent to St. Peter’s Church which is where Father Mychal Judge was carried after he was killed administering to the victims.

The day concluded with a visit to the Great Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City as part of the AOH New York remembrance of the International Hunger Memorial Commemoration.  As ceremonies took place all over the world in May to the memory of those victims of An Gorta Mor, the AOH National Board laid a wreath to the memory of the victims of that tragedy at the impressive memorial at New York Harbor.

 

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AOH Celebrates 175

It was a truly historic weekend as members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and their friends gathered in New York to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Order.  Although it wasn’t until 1853 that the name Ancient Order of Hibernians was officially adopted, the organization grew out of a fusion of fraternal societies from Pennsylvania and New York which met in 1836 near Old St. James Church on James Street, later renamed AOH Way for the 150th Anniversary of the Order.  It is from that point that the AOH dates its origin.

The weekend began with the hospitality of Ireland’s Consul General to New York, Noel Kilkenny and his lovely wife, Honora, at their rooftop residence in mid-town Manhattan overlooking Robert Moses Park and the East River.  As traditional musicians, Scott Mattey, Stephen Gara, Donie Carrol and Jimmy O’Neill provided lively Irish tunes, an endless parade of hors d’ouvres and canopes paraded through the assembled guests – a literal who’s who of Irish America – gathered to congratulate the AOH on its milestone.  As the sun set over a breathtaking view of Manhattan’s lights emerging like an earthly constellation, AOH Div 7 invited all to a buffet dinner sponsored by the New York County Board at their nearby local ‘The Black Sheep Pub and Restaurant’ where the gaiety went on. Irish Counsel General in New York  Noel Kilkenny It is a huge honor for me to join you in celebrating 175 years of service to Ireland, Irish America, and your communities.  I have seen the work you do and read about your York history. And now you are celebrating 175 years of what you have done for the Irish.  The Irish in the past when things weren’t easy – in fact when it as very dangerous to be Irish here in this city and right across this country.  It is an occasion to celebrate that, to celebrate what you have achieved.  And you have achieved so much.  What about today? As I travel around I see the AOH in action today and yesterday, and please God tomorrow – not only in your Divisions but in almost every facet of Irish life in this city, Irish) I have found AOH members at the center of it:  they have founding it they have funded it, they have supported it, they have volunteered in it.  So as an organization you have a glorious past, but you also have a great presence… But what of tomorrow Hibernians? What of next year? What of 30 years from now? He added,         Kilkenny called on Hibernians to plan for the next 175 years. You are the largest Irish organization in this country – you are coast to coast – you are in every city, in every community. future of the Hibernians is not the bloodline from Ireland but is the children and grandchildren of our members. He called on the AOH to hare with them your history engage them in your communities, encourage them to join divisions and to have to play their part in Irish America and to think to the future.  The Irish government is here and we want you to re-engage in Ireland.

On Saturday morning, the gates of the city opened wide to receive hundreds of Hibernian men and women from as far away as Pittsburgh, Rhode Island and New Orleans and they formed up on Mulberry Street, just north of  the infamous Mulberry Bend.  The Bend was one of the worst parts of the old Five Points neighborhood in which arriving Irish immigrants were forced to live in the 1840s and 50s with many notorious back alleys like Bandit’s Roost, Bottle Alley and Ragpicker’s Row.  The Bend is gone now, replaced by Mulberry Bend Park and so are the Irish who were forced to live there in more biased times.  Just as the Irish marched out of the Five Points into American prosperity, the AOH paraded north on Mulberry Street to the church that has become the icon of the Irish experience in New York – the Basilica of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral – accompanied by four Hibernian Pipe Bands: Tara Pipes and Drums, Siol na hEireann, Glor na Gael and Orange County AOH Pipe Band.

Back in 1844, when Archbishop Hughes had called on the fledgling AOH to protect his church from a nativist threat, armed Hibernians lined the street in front of the Cathedral; on this day Hibernians again lined the street in front of the Cathedral, but this time it was Hibernian Pipe Bands and they were armed with pipes and drums; the massed band performance they provided would have made Archbishop Hughes proud.  The Mass in honor of the AOH milestone con-celebrated by the Pastor Monsignor Sakano, AOH National and Deputy National Chaplains, O’Donnell and Reid, and several AOH Chaplains and sung by the Hibernian Festival Singers.

Father O’Donnell’s homily read like a history lesson drawing in this wonderful spiritualism into the hearts of those gathered. The 175 year history of the AOH is intimately connected to the history of Old St Patrick’s Basilica. If it were not for the Irish and the Ancient Order of Hibernians the other historic events of this church may not have been possible.  In the 1830s there was a great deal of anti-catholic and anti-immigrant sentiment.  The need to defend the Cathedral against mob violence was not uncommon.  The “Know Nothing Party” organized Protestants to march against the Cathedral. Mobs and vigilante groups shouted anti-catholic epitaphs threatened the Cathedral and vowed to burn the Cathedral to the ground.  At this point Archbishop Hughes enlisted the Irish and in particular the Ancient Order of Hibernians to surround the walls of the Cathedral and safeguard the church. Then Archbishop Hughes wrote to the New York Mayor and told him, “Should one Catholic come to harm, or should one business be molested, we shall turn this city into a second Moscow.”  Although the AOH was able to save the Cathedral, they were not able to prevent the anti-papist mob who stoned the beautiful stained glass windows of both the church and the Bishops residence.  For 175 years the Ancient Order of Hibernians has continued to defend the church and its priests during times of both peace and turbulence.

Just as all of us who make up the Body of Christ give life to the bricks, stone, wood and steel of a church, likewise, the Ancient Order of Hibernians is more than just the AOH logo on a division building or the AOH emblem on the top of stationary.  Just as we are the living and breathing members of the Church so we must give live to our Hibernian virtues of Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity.  As members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians when we perform the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in our everyday lives, we are Christ to others. We are Christ when we protect the dignity of Human life from the first moment of conception until the time when our heavenly Father summons us to the Eternal Kingdom.  We are Christ to the world when we provide clothing for the homeless, provide meals for the hungry, and work at food banks so that poor families may have some nourishing meals.  We are Chris when we support the various Hibernian Charities not only by our material donations but by the gift of ourselves.  We are Christ when we fight for fair immigration laws not only for the Irish immigrants but for every immigrant who legally wishes to pursue freedom and the American dream.  We are Christ when we support seminarians and novices through Project St. Patrick and enable these men and women to pursue their vocations.  We are Christ when we provide scholarship funds for deserving students who wish to pursue their academic dreams.  We are Christ when we continue to fight for a free and independent Ireland so that perhaps by the centennial of the Easter Rising in 2016 we will have a united, free and independent Ireland.

As Hibernians we are alive, we are grateful for the glorious years of our past, but we must continue to be active in the present and be dynamically committed to the future because years from now we need future Hibernians to look back on us with the same aw with which we have looked back at 175 years of faithful and committed people.

The Mass was sung by the Hibernian Festival Choir under the direction of Maura Allen. This choir has performed at the White House and at many venues in Ireland, Canada and the U.S. and has always added to the solemnity of the liturgy. Ancient Order of Hibernians members were ushers and deacons who along with the altar servers under the guidance of a committee headed by past national director Martin Kelly of Brooklyn. Gifts presented by member Hibernians during the Mass included bread and wine, and in addition, a stature of St. Patrick, flags of the United States and Ireland, turf and potatoes, a model ship, and a Celtic cross.

After Mass, Monsignor Sakano invited all in attendance to a feast in the activities yard of the adjacent St. Patrick’s School where traditional music, food and beverage were plentiful and awards were presented to those responsible for the celebration. Hundreds of Hibernians and guests packed the old schools courtyard for food and drink and craic.  All were entertained by the band Celtic Justice and individual performers that included fiddler Scott Mettey and others.  The reception will be chaired by Sir Patrick Allen, a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and a brother Hibernian. Awards that included special plaques with bricks from the original church wall built by the original Hibernians were presented to the committee members who prganized the celebration.

Sunday morning dawned with the men and ladies of the AOH making their way to the tip of Manhattan and the oldest parish church in New York – St. Peter’ Church where a Mass was celebrated in memory of those AOH members and other victims of the cowardly attack on the World Trade Center right next door to the church.  After the Mass, a wreath was laid at the steel I-beam which remained standing amid the carnage in the shape of a cross and which has become an icon of faith and determination to recover.  It stands adjacent to St. Peter’s Church which is where Father Mychal Judge was carried after he was killed administering to the victims.

The day concluded with a visit to the Great Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City as part of the AOH New York remembrance of the International Hunger Memorial Commemoration.  As ceremonies took place all over the world in May to the memory of those victims of An Gorta Mor, the AOH National Board laid a wreath to the memory of the victims of that tragedy at the impressive memorial at New York Harbor.

 

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Irish Uprisings, Wars and Battles

A tour bus driver in Ireland remarked to his passengers as he passed an old castle, ‘It was this on spot that the Irish defeated the British forces in 1315.’ Later, as they passed an open field, he announced, ‘This is the field where the Irish forces beat the brutal and bloody Saxon in 1170.’ After identifying a third spot as the scene of another Irish victory, one perturbed British passenger shouted, ‘Certainly, my good man, the British must have won a battle somewhere!’ To which the driver responded, ‘Not on my bus, they didn’t!’

The subject of battles in Ireland is a very broad topic, especially when considering the number of battles that took place between various clans prior to the coming of the English. Then there were battles fought against the Viking invaders up to the Battle of Clontarf where Brian Boru finally established Irish control of Ireland. A websitelists more than 350 since the fifth century alone. As for the site, that takes into consideration continental wars in which the Irish were involved.

When discussing Irish attempts to free themselves from the yoke of British oppression, many are the skirmishes and battles that took place since the arrival of the Normans under Strongbow in 1169. However, there were 14 major attempts in which the Irish clans and even Anglo-Irish united to oppose the Crown. These were:

1315 – The arrival of Edmund Bruce with a Scots army to assist the Irish in ousting the Brits

1534 – The rising led by Silken Thomas Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare, against Henry VIII’s anti-Catholic policies

1569 – Rising by the Earl of Desmond and his Irish allies against Elizabeth’s English government of Munster

1579 – Second Desmond Rebellion with many more Irish allies against Catholic persecution and land grabs

1594 – Nine Years War of O’Neill, O’Donnell and Maguire against the Crown

1641 – Rising of northern clans against the Crown which led to the Confederation of Kilkenny in 1642 and ended with the Cromwellian invasion of 1649

1689 – Williamite War of King Billy which ended with the Battle of the Boyne in 1691

1798 – The Rising of the United Irishmen

1803 – The Rising of the Bold Robert Emmet

1867 – The Fenian Rebellion

1916 – The Easter Rising

1919 – The War of Independence

1956 – The Border Campaign

1969 – The Troubles which ended with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement

Hopefully, future historians will have no more conflicts to document or write about as Ireland draws ever nearer to one island – one Ireland and our song writers and balladeers can concentrate on the beauty and promise of God’s Emerald Isle.

New York State Convention Information

Dear Fellow Hibernian:

The 96th Biennial 2011 AOH/57th Biennial LAOH New York State Convention will be held at the Hilton Pearl River, 500 Veterans Memorial Drive, Pearl River, N.Y. 10965, from Wednesday, July 13 through Sunday, July 17.

You can make a reservation with the Hilton Pearl River by calling (845) 735-9000. When making your reservation say “AOH Convention.” The room rate is $143 a night and is available two days before and two days after the convention. Reservations must be made no later than June 26, 2011.

Room reservations can also be made with the Holiday Inn Orangeburg, 329 Route 303, Orangeburg, NY 10962, by calling (845)359-7000. As with the Hilton Pearl River, when making your reservation say “AOH Convention”. The room rate is $129 a night and is also available two days before and two days after the convention. Reservations must be made no later than July 5, 2011

In addition, mail your convention registration form to the following address:

Mr. Timothy O’Neill and Ms. Carmel Reilly
Convention Registration Committee Co-Chairs
P.O. 182
Pearl River, NY 10965

Please make your check or money order payable to AOH NYS Convention.  A convention registration form postmarked on or before June 1, 2011 will be $210.  After June 1, 2011 the cost will be $235.

For further information including package details please go to www.nyaoh.com.

 

Yours in our motto,

 

A. Warren Scullin
2011 AOH/LAOH-NYS
Convention Chairman

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Flight of the Earls

Four hundred years ago the last of Irish royalty left Ireland and the Gaelic system of government came to an end. It would be known in history as the Flight of the Earls and it happened on September 4, 1607. Most are familiar with the English incursions into Ireland over the years since the Norman invasion and the opposition of the Irish Chieftains. Some led rebellions, others sought cooperation, and a few tried both.

Up to the reign of Henry VIII (1509-47), southern Ireland had been divided into properties ruled by ‘earls’ created by the Crown. They were mostly independent but Henry VIII introduced a new dimension to the status quo when he broke with the church in 1534 and declared himself the head of the Church of England. The Pope excommunicated him and many of Ire-land’s earls sided with the Catholic Church. The earl of Kildare, “Silken” Thomas Fitzgerald, denounced his allegiance to Henry, arguing that excommunication had stripped him of legitimacy. Henry responded with force and in 1537 Fitzgerald and five of his uncles were executed in London. Henry made the Protestant faith a priority of his reign, a policy continued by his successors. Thus was the centuries-old struggle between the Irish and English transformed into one between Irish Catholic and English Protestant.

Henry’s plan for Ireland led to many conflicts. His successors, Mary (1553-58) and Elizabeth (1558-1603), fought many up-risings trying to impose British authority and the Church of England on the Irish earls. They fought Shane O’Neill (1560-67) and the Desmond Fitzgeralds (1569-73, and 1579-83), as well as daily violence against Crown loyalists. In 1587, Spain was preparing her Armada to invade England and Elizabeth realized she could not muster her full resources against the Spanish while the threat of rebellion existed in Ireland. Though Anglo Normans con-trolled the south, the major clans of the north remained un-conquered, and she was deter-mined to resolve that issue. The English decided to capture Enniskillen, Hugh Maguire’s fort at the Gap of the North the main access to Ulster. Hugh O’Donnell, Chieftain of Tyrconnell, answered his call for aid, and the two Hughs swept across Ulster driving the Eng-lish before them; they broke through the Gap of the North, and recaptured Enniskillen, then routed the English at the Ford of the Biscuits. They next moved on Fort Monaghan, and the English sent reinforcements. They met at the Battle of Clontibert, where the English saw, for the first time, the Red Hand of O’Neill among the clan standards. Clan O’Neill had taken the field, and at their head was Hugh O’Neill, England’s trusted Earl of Tyrone. He had announced at last, destroying an English company in the bargain. The last remaining Irish War Chieftains, the three Hughs of Ulster were now a national force with O’Neill commanding; he had 1,000 horse soldiers and 7,000 foot soldiers at a time when the entire English force in Ireland was less than 2,000. In 1596, O’Neill swept through the north and each blow was echoed by O’Donnell and Maguire in the west. The Nine Year’s War had begun. O’Neill took the title, “The O’Neill,” essentially proclaiming himself high king – a position not held since Brian Boru’s death in 1014. His goal, he made clear, was to gain protection for the Catholic religion and to ensure that Ireland be ruled by the Irish.

The three Hughes scored victories against Crown forces, most notably at the Battle of Yellow Ford in 1598. But a huge British force under Lord Mountjoy eventually ended the Nine Years War at the Battle of Kinsale in late 1601 in which Hugh Maguire was killed. O’Neill kept up guerilla raids while O’Donnell went to Spain to negotiate aid hoping to outlive the aging Elizabeth who would be succeeded by the Catholic James Stuart. Offers of leniency were refused by O’Neill, but when he learned that O’Donnell had been poisoned in Spain, the greatest Irish Chieftain of his age came in, on March 30, 1603, to surrender to Lord Mountjoy. He pledged obedience before the Irish Parliament on April 3. Then, after the ceremony of submission he was told: Elizabeth of England had died on March 24! James Stuart of Scotland was now James I of England. O’Neill had won and never knew it. He and his nation had outlasted the Queen only to be tricked into submission by Lord Mountjoy before agreements with James could be ratified. O’Neill was allowed to keep his land, and his earldom, but lost his lordship over Ulster’s chieftains who were all made earls of the Crown, ending the Irish title of High King forever.

In the years that followed O’Neill’s rebellion, the restored earls of Ulster still possessed clan lands, but faced a growing number of English settlers and a hostile administration. Then, in 1607, London summoned O’Neill and O’Donnell’s successor to answer charges of planning another rebellion. Knowing that English planters were ready to seize their lands, O’Neill and O’Donnell surmised that their destruction was at hand. Their only course was escape. The hearts of the Irish were broken as the noblest princes of Erin Ruari O’Donnell and his brothers; Conor Maguire, brother of the slain Hugh; Hugh O’Neill and his three sons and 100 other earls sailed from Lough Swilly in what became known as The Flight of the Earls. The last Irish defense against English tyranny went with them.

They eventually landed in the Spanish Netherlands and from there proceeded to Rome. Their hopes of returning to liberate Ireland with a Catholic army soon dissipated and they lived out their years on meager papal pensions. O’Neill died there in 1616. The English government seized the opportunity and the fleeing earls were tried in absentia and convicted of treason, the penalty for which was forfeiture of their land. With 500,000 acres of land now in its possession, the Crown began a settlement program known as the Ulster Plantation. Its ultimate goal was to create a loyal population in Ulster through the settlement of thousands of non-Irish Protestants. Although it took a few decades to take hold, the Plantation of Ulster had a dramatic impact on the course of Irish history. Not only did it wipe out much of the province’s native Irish leadership by eliminating the holdings of the 101 Irish Earls who fled, but it threw open the province to settlement by tens of thousands of English and Scottish Protestants. By the 1630s, in six Ulster counties, Protestants owned 3 million out of the 3.5 million acres of land.

The Battle of Benburb

The 17th century dawned in Ire-land during the 9-years war of the northern Chieftains against the Crown. By 1602 that conflict was over; Red Hugh O’Donnell had been poisoned, the Irish had capitulated, and Queen Elizabeth was dead. Against the treachery that threatened their heirs and families, the noblest Chieftains of the north – The O’Neill, the O’Donnell, and the Maguire – left Ireland forever in what be-came known as the Flight of the Earls.

The Irish were leaderless, the Clan system had been broken, the great Gaelic Houses destroyed, and a foreign power had been established in possession of the land. The conquest of Ireland was finally complete; or so it appeared. Beneath it all, the bards kept the heritage alive. Outlawed poets started hedge schools; Priests said Mass at stone altars in the glens; the music, the language, and the learning survived – but the British were determined to stop even that limited existence of Celtic culture. After the flight of the earls, James I of England, declared that the recently de-parted northern Chieftains had been conspiring to rebel, and their estates were forfeit to the Crown.

Four million acres of Ulster were given to men called Undertakers – that is, any loyal Englishman who agreed to undertake the dispossession of the Irish. Soldiers, drapers, fish-mongers, vintners, haberdashers, anyone seeking free land became the new owners of Ulster. A contemporary writer named Stewart, son of a Presbyterian minister, wrote that they were “for the most part the scum of both nations, who from debt or fleeing justice came hither hoping to be without fear of man’s laws.” They hunted the Irish like animals, drove them into the woods, mountains, and moors where thousands perished of starvation within sight of lands that their clans had owned from time immemorial. Before their eyes, an alien nation was planted on the fair face of Ireland’s proudest province.

But the Irish would not starve and die in their own fertile land. Their rage grew daily until a leader emerged in the person of Rory Og O’Moore. He had patiently worked for years among the leading Irish families, Irish Generals in the Continental armies, and other Irish exiles to oust the British. Then, on the night of October 21, 1641, the remnants of the northern clans burst forth sweeping the terrified Undertakers before them. Descendants of the old Clans O’Neill, Magennis, O’Hanlon, O’Hagan, MacMahon, Maguire, O’Quinn, O’Farrell, and O’Reilly burst forth from the hills and, in a few hours, made Ulster their own again. A few days later, Phelim O’Neill was proclaimed head of an Ulster army, and by early 1642, Leinster and Munster joined the fight for freedom; still later, Connaught joined. The Crown, poured men and arms into Ire-land to fight the rebels. The Irish gentry formed the Confederation of Kilkenny to direct the resistance, and, believing that the new King, Catholic-born Charles I, was a friend of Ire-land, they confirmed their stand for ‘faith, country, and King’. The Irish Chieftains yielded for the sake of unity.

In England, a struggle between King Charles and his Puritan Parliament developed into a civil war. As his situation grew worse, King Charles began to court the Confederation. Futile negotiations frustrated the fighting spirit of the Irish, and they began to suffer defeat after de-feat until, in despair, they considered coming to terms with the English. Suddenly, from the Boyne to the sea, Ulster shook with the news: Owen Roe is come!

On July 6, 1642, with 100 officers in his company, Owen Roe O’Neill, landed in Donegal. A mere boy when he had left Ire-land with his uncle, Hugh O’Neill, during the Flight of the Earls, he had won distinction as a military commander in the Irish Brigade of the Spanish Army. A trained soldier and military leader, he had returned to lead the fight for Ireland’s freedom. He was given command of the northern army which he rebuilt, and began to challenge the English on the field of battle. In short order, he regained all that had been lost due to the procrastination of the Confederation, but jealous of his growing power, they hampered his efforts at every turn.

Then, on June 5, 1646, England sent their best field commander, General Monroe, against Owen Roe. This would silence the young upstart forever. Monroe had 6,000 men and a full compliment of field artillery. O’Neill had only 5,000 men and no artillery. The two armies met at the junction of the river Oonah and the Blackwater adjacent to the village of Benburb – a place that would live forever on the lips of the storytellers, for it was here, in one masterful battle, that Owen Roe proved his superiority and the superiority of his army. Monroe’s men were fresh, and he set them up so that he would have the ad-vantage of the sun at his back. O’Neill kept Monroe’s nerves and the nerves of his men on edge for several hours in that hot sun while his men harassed them with hit and run skirmishing raids. Finally, when the sun had shifted to behind his back, O’Neill gave the word “Sancta Maria,” and launched a whirl-wind attack. His cavalry captured Monroe’s guns, and his infantry overwhelmed the English legions driving them into the river. In one short hour, O’Neill had wiped out the pride of the British army; 32 standards were taken; Lord Ardes and 32 officers were captured; cannon, baggage, and 2-months provisions were taken; and 1,500 horses were now in Irish possession. 3,300 of Monroe’s army lay dead on the field, while Owen Roe lost but 70. Ulster had been won by Owen Roe O’Neill. The Confederation, fearing his growing power, would eventually turn on O’Neill, and everything would be lost in the end. But for a brief while, all of Ireland was talking about Owen Roe O’Neill and the Battle of Benburb on June 5, 1646.