President Boyle’s Letter To Urban Outfitters

Mr Hayne, as the National President of the largest Irish American Organization in the United States, the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, it is with great displeasure that I must write to you and ask that you immediately remove the disgusting products you have for sale in your stores depicting the Irish as Drunks and defaming the Irish Nation and the Patron Saint of Ireland, St Patrick.

St Patrick’s Day, March 17th, is a day when the Irish celebrate the patron saint of Ireland and yes we do celebrate in a respectful manner with many of us starting the day by attending Mass prior to marching in parades. There are those few who use this day as an excuse to over celebrate but that does not give you or anyone else the right to defame and debase a whole race of people by selling the garbage that you display in your stores.

For you or anyone else to have articles like the trucker’s cap depicting a drunk vomiting shamrocks or selling jugs such as the Leprechauns Piss Jug is culturally offensive and uncalled for. If this is the way you must make your money by debasing a whole race of people I can assure you that with over 40 million people in this country claiming Irish ancestry they will not be your customers after this display of arrogance and disrespect to a whole nation.

I ask, would you have the same type of garbage depicting the African American, Jewish or Muslim Nations emblazoned on your product? I think not. Why do it to the Irish? Perhaps it is because we are Catholic and you think you can get away with it, or is because you think we do not care about our heritage or perhaps because you just dont care about our nationality. Well Mr Hayne, we do care about our Heritage, our Religion and what the perception of us as a nation is, so I am sure you will be hearing from many more of our proud Irish American people throughout this country and abroad.

Thousands of our people shop at you stores throughout the country and with help of the news media, Irish and catholic organizations and the general public we will get the word out that Urban Outfitters does not have any respect for the Irish people or the Catholic Religion and we will ask them to Boycott your establishments.

If you have a change of heart and decide to do the right thing by immediately removing this offensive product from your stores please contact me and I will make sure that our people continue to shop your business.

Seamus Boyle National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, Inc

Anger Over St. Patrick’s Day Items: MyFoxNY.com

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Digital Digest Exclusive: Director’s Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Join the AOH Christmas Appeal to Help Secure Freedom, Justice

Clara Reilly 2011 Sean MacBride Humanitarian Award winner with Sean Pender, Mike Redmond and Mike Glass.

As boards and divisions continue to consider their contributions to the annual Freedom for All Ireland Christmas appeal, I would like to present a speech I made recently regarding Relatives for Justice. It is my hope that it will convey to you the importance of the work that we support with our appeal:

It was almost 10 years ago that I first met Mark Thompson, Clara Reilly and the staff of Relatives for Justice (RFJ) in their Falls Road office in West Belfast. In that time I have learned about the hundreds of families that they have helped in their quest for justice. I have had the honor to personally meet dozens of these families and learn firsthand of their quest for justice. I have been in awe of the staff of RFJ and inspired by their determination to fight for truth and justice. Often faced with what would seem insurmountable odds, they labor on, for they have the truth as their most valuable asset on their side.

Through my work with the AOH I have rallied support for RFJ at the local, state and national levels. The AOH has helped with our donations and our voices; We have told their story in meeting halls, conventions and to our elected officials both locally and in the halls of Congress.

Dealing with the past in a transparent and truthful way is a remaining challenge of not only the Good Friday agreement but a key component of the transition of a society from post conflict to true, lasting peace. It is the difference of defining a fragile peace as a lack of war to a lasting sustainable peace for equals.

RFJ’s quest is for justice for those families still seeking truth. Unfortunately, that quest for justice and truth has been often delayed, deferred, postponed and put off by the existing systems that are in place in the North of Ireland. For the truth to emerge, the vehicle that will provide the process must be free from the prejudices of the British government and her henchmen disguised as civil service employees in offices that they still influence. Britain has had its opportunity to address the past but it has failed terribly. Justice — even when it has been achieved — takes not months or years but generations.

Ignoring the issues is no longer an option. Britain must acknowledge what it has done, admit what it has done and apologize to those it has harmed.

It is my hope that the recent awarding of the 2011 AOH Sean MacBride Humanitarian award to Clara Reilly, chairperson and founding member of Relatives for Justice and a woman who for 40 years has been the backbone of the civil and human rights movement for the people of the North, will continue to highlight the critical importance of truth recovery in North of Ireland. RFJ has proven to be a true broker for peace and justice in the North. They have supported families regardless of their religion or political affiliation. RFJ does not believe in a hierarchy of victims, they believe that we cannot let those who seek the truth be left behind.

Their important work is often threatened and impeded by the subtle forms of discrimination that still exist in the North. A new building that RFJ desperately needs to serve the communities they support sits available and vacant but funding and support is held up by bigots disguised as bureaucrats. Funding is often tenuous with workers having to be laid off while new funding is searched for. But through all of this, they preserve and thrive.

If we do not address the past then the truth will be the last victim of the troubles, and there will not be a strong foundation for the future. The future cannot be built on the lies of the past. A foundation of truth can be the only hope for the future. The work of RFJ will help cement the future of all people in the North.

Notes:

On October 14th, only three days after the cowardly British prime minister David Cameron reneged on his government’s commitments to the family of Pat Finucane, Geraldine Finucane, Pat’s widow, issued the following statement: “The world is now aware that my family and I were invited by the British Prime Minister David Cameron to 10 Downing Street earlier this week to hear his decision on the holding of an inquiry into the murder of my husband, Pat Finucane. Even now, days after the event, we still feel humiliated and insulted by the ordeal we were made to endure … We cannot be expected to take the British Prime Minister’s word that it will be effective when he is reneging on a Government commitment in order to establish it. His actions prove beyond doubt that the word of British Prime Minister is not to be trusted. The case of Pat Finucane shows that British Prime Ministers no longer keep their promises.”

Geraldine Finucane has for over 20 years strived for justice and truth in the murder of her husband. Cameron’s actions and mistreatment of the Finucane family serve as a perfect example of why we still need to be cognizant of the issues that still affect the North of Ireland.

Congratulations to Dan Dennehy for hosting such a wonderful, first-class fundraising event in Manhattan to support RFJ and the Christmas Appeal.

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Dan Dennehy, NYS FFAI Chairman, reports that the NYS FFAI 2012 Christmas Appeal Fundraiser held at Harbour Lights Restaurant was a tremendous success. Co-hosted by the Brehon Law Society of NY and with the dramatic views of Manahan skyline and The Brooklyn Bridge, the event was a lively evening of music provided by AOH members Sean Griffin and Stephen Gara, excellent food and great guest speakers.

Among those who presented a contemporary view of the issues in Northern Ireland were National Vice President Brendan Moore, National FFAI Sean Pender, Steve McCabe and General Jim Cullen of the Brehon Law Society. Many Hibernians, including Brian Kelly, NYS Director, Aidan O’Kelly Lynch, President of the AOH Peekskill participated in the event as well as National Director Jere Cole and Mike Carroll of the Brehon Law Society.

The highlight was a  moving speech by 2011 AOH Sean McBride Award winner Clara Reilly of Relatives for Justice, who was presented with a $2,000 check from the NYS Board as part of their Christmas Appeal Fundraiser proceeds. Dan Dennehy said, “The Brehons have helped make this event a complete success, and we are excited by the prospect to working with them on many more efforts and causes in the future.”

Clara Reilly and daughter Colleen with NY and NJ AOH members at NYS AOH fundraiser; chaired by Dan Dennehy.

Dan Dennehy, Mike Glass, Mike Redmond, Colleen Reilly, Jere Cole, Clara Reilly and Sean Pender at the NYS FFAI 2012 Christmas Appeal Fundraiser held at Harbour Lights Restaurant.

 

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New Major Degree team certified in South Carolina

The newest Ancient Order of Hibernians Major Degree Team is the Carraig Phadraig Major Degree Team in South Carolina. The team has been practicing for over a year and was chaired by Past State President Neil Diamond. National Ritual Chairman Patrick Shannon certified it at the 7th bi-annual State Convention in Charleston on October 22.

The Rock of Cashel (Irish: Carraig Phadraig), also known as Cashel of Kings and St. Patrick’s Rock is a historic site in Ireland’s province of Munster, located at Cashel, South Tipperary. The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster for several hundred years. Cashel is reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century.

National Ritual Chairman Patrick Shannon & Past New York President John Hennessy

The Msgr. John L Manning Division in Charleston County and the Brian Boru Division in Berkeley County formed the team. It includes members from Horry and Beaufort counties. Key members are Al Stiles, Jim Kelly, Tim Keneflick, James Nettles and Martin Fosberry.

At the 7th bi-annual convention, the team performed its first Major Degree for a group of 49 new candidates. This brings the state to 170 major degree members out of a total of more than 500 members. Candidates came from all nine Divisions in South Carolina. The team held a practice for National Ritual Chairman Patrick Shannon on Friday before the convention. He made several small suggestions to help improve the team performance. National Director Len Byrne, Past New York State President John Hennessey and National President Seamus Boyle also attended the degree.

 

 

 

 

New Carriag Phadraig Degree Team

Degree team certificate. NY State past President John Hennessy, National Director Len Bryne, Past SC President and Team Organizer, SC State President James Nettles and National Ritual Chairman Patrick Shannon.

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Meehan to receive Golden Bridges Award

In 2007, Mairtin O Muilleoir, publisher of the Irish Echo, announced the Golden Bridges award, to be annually presented in tribute to those who had built golden bridges of prosperity and investment between the U.S. and the North of Ireland.

This year, the recipients are author Mike MacDonald, Mary McAleer of the Irish American Partnership and AOH Past National President Jack Meehan. Jack was nominated by Boston’s undocumented Irish community for his more than 30 years of service to that cause.

The awards will be presented at a luncheon to be held at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Centre, Boston, on November 11. The guest speaker will be Gerry Adams, TD. Our congratulations to Jack.

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President Boyle Addreses AOH on the 175th

The 2011 President’s Dinner was held in Philadelphia on October 8, and all who attended raved about the grand event. Also at the dinner, the presentation of the Sean MacBride Award was made to the highly deserving Clara Reilly.

National AOH President Seamus Boyle addressed the dinner’s participants, and his speech is reprinted here.

 

“Rev. Clergy, distinguished guests, National, State, County and Division officers of the AOH and LAOH, family and friends, and especially our recipient of the prestigious Sean MacBride award, Clara Reilly, thank you for attending this evening’s festivities.

I know many of you have traveled quite a distance, both from here in the States and Ireland so I hope you enjoy your night and have a safe trip home. (It’s not over yet, that is usually said at the end of the speech).

As most of you know, this year is our 175 Anniversary of the formation of the AOH in America and we did have a great celebration in New York City in May, which many of you attended. This Anniversary celebration that has been ongoing throughout 2011, took over a year of hard work on the part of many people to accomplish. I would like to single out two people, Ed Wallace, chairman of the Anniversary Committee, and Mike McCormack, who was responsible for the beautiful Souvenir Journal that is on your table tonight. I think we owe a round of applause to both of these gentlemen.

It is almost 14 years since I was elected to the National Board of the AOH and I must say it has been one hell of a ride. Although I have had many great times, there were also some sad times that came with the positions I held. Some great friends in the organization have passed on, as have some of my own family, and it is at times like this that I miss them most.

Tom Gilligan, Past National President, who encouraged me to get involved and run for office, told me it was a piece of cake, but Tom always did exaggerate. And my brother, Mike, told me I was nuts, but he meant it. The people I have met on my travels throughout this great country of ours have treated me with the utmost respect, whether they agreed with my policies or not, and I have remained friends with many of them.

The Board that I have worked with over the past 4 years has supported me in all my decisions, and I have always included them in making these decisions because I have learned that one man cannot run a ship by himself. Your Board has made great strides and has made many decisions that may not have been popular but it is easy for one to make popular decisions, but a lot harder to make the right decisions, and as far as I am concerned we have made the right decisions over the past 4 years.

For 174 years, our organization has had no registered Trademark or Copyrights to our name or logo. But today, thanks to our Legal Counsel George Clough, we are now registered. We have contracted with Harris Connect, at no cost to us, to do a history of the AOH, by the AOH members themselves, telling their story about their state, county or division or their own personal story of how they came to be in the area where they now reside. Our online edition of the Hibernian Digest has been a great source of information to our members. We are now in the process of gathering emails and updating our membership list so as to save time and money on communications. There are so many other things that we have done as a board but most of you know what has been accomplished and I will leave it at that. The board we have today is one of the best boards I have ever worked with and they continue to serve you in a most effective way.

Tonight is a night to celebrate. Celebrate our heritage with the music from the Willie Lynch Band. Celebrate our Religion, which we just did at our beautiful Mass celebrated by our National Chaplain Fr. Tom O’Donnell and our two Deputy Chaplains Fr. Reid and Fr. Pearce, not to forget the beautiful voice of Louise Donnelly, our vocalist.

Celebrate a woman who has fought for many years for peace and justice in Ireland, Clara Reilly. Celebrate our history by reading the history in our Anniversary Journal and educating our friends, family and especially our children of the history of our ancestors. Celebrate our health by being able to be here tonight with our friends and family and celebrate our peace in Ireland, fragile as it might be but much better than it was even 15 years ago.

I would like to thank all of you for attending the festivities tonight, especially all of my family from here in the States and from Ireland. My relatives from Ireland who came here for the wedding last week, about 12 of them, are like grandchildren: I like to see them come but I love to see them go back — and that works both ways when I go back they feel the same, here he comes when is he leaving. My children, Mike and Tara, Bronagh who was married last Saturday and is on her honeymoon and opted to miss this affair, but most of all my wife, Berna, who puts up with me all of the time but especially when I ask her, can you pack a bag for me quick, I forgot to tell you I am going to Montana or Georgia or someplace else in the morning. Thank you all especially you, Berna, have a great night, enjoy the band and have a safe trip home.

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An Echo of Irish History

History is written by the victors and is not always as portrayed. One example of this is Thanksgiving. According to the story that surrounds it, heroic Christian pilgrims arrived in America and shared what little they had with their poor Indian neighbors in thanksgiving for their successful arrival. The truth of the matter is that the Indians weren’t poor, and if they hadn’t shared their bounty with the pilgrims, the pilgrims might not have survived. After all, yams, corn and the rest were all Indian dietary staples and the turkey was an American bird. It was Chief Massasoit and the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans who taught the newcomers how to plant, grow and harvest the strange foods they hadn’t seen before. As for the feast, it was nothing new; it was in thanks for a bountiful harvest. Harvest festivals had been celebrated in many lands for centuries before the pilgrims ever buttered their first corn on the cob. But who were these pilgrims and why do they get the credit for the “first” thanksgiving?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “pilgrim” as one who makes a journey for a religious purpose. The religious purpose of these pilgrims was to escape persecution, for they were English Protestants who advocated a  strict discipline according to their own interpretation of the Bible. Their aim was to reconstruct and purify the church. They were tolerated for their anti-Catholic bias, but when they demanded reforms to purify the Church of England as well, they were hunted out of the country!

We use the term Pilgrims (with a capital “P”) to identify the group who arrived at Plymouth in 1620 on the Mayflower, and Puritans to define the larger group, led by John Winthrop, who arrived 10 years later and started the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Both were related by the same convictions to purify the church, yet they differed among themselves about the degree of changes. Some who stayed in England became Presbyterian, already strong in Scotland. Those who came to Plymouth considered the congregation the ultimate authority while those who came to Massachusetts considered the hierarchy elected by the congregation as the ultimate authority. Despite these minor differences, they all had one thing in common: they were among the most unreasonable and bigoted groups in history. In 1649 — less than 30 years later — the Puritans who remained in England successfully fomented a civil war under Oliver Cromwell, beheaded King Charles, and then turned their army of zealots toward Ireland and the suppression of Irish Catholics.

In Ireland, the Puritan Army began its campaign at Drogheda, where they cut down its 3,000 defenders to a man. What followed was to become the trademark of Cromwell’s victories across Ireland. These God-fearing Christians indiscriminately slaughtered the defenseless civilian population. For five days men, women and children were hunted down and butchered. Cromwell recorded that “The enemy were about 3,000 strong in the town. I believe we have put to the sword the whole number … In this very place (Saint Peter’s Church) a thousand of them were put to the sword, fleeing thither for safety.” On October 2, 1649, he declared a national day of thanksgiving in celebration of the deed at Drogheda — a depraved application of the term.

In America in 1675, the sons of the Pilgrims who dined with the Wampanoag tribe that harvest day in 1621, defeated them in a war over land. Meanwhile, Ann Glover, who had fled the turmoil in Ireland to reside in the Puritan colony in Massachusetts, was overheard saying her evening prayers in her native Gaelic. Accused by Cotton Mather of conversing with the devil, she confessed to being an Irish Catholic. She was told to denounce her religion, refused, and was hanged as a witch. The year was 1688 — 39 years after the thanksgiving at Drogheda and 68 years after the Puritan’s thanksgiving in America. The idea of giving thanks to God remains a fundamental duty, be it for a bountiful harvest or a blessing bestowed, but the cruel, un-compromising, witch-burning Puritans of the 1600s are hardly the example to hold up to our children as role models.

Let us instead look to America’s first official national day of thanksgiving,  proclaimed by the Continental Congress on December 18, 1777, “as a day of solemn thanksgiving and praise” for the “signal success” of our forces at the Battle of Saratoga — a turning point in the struggle for independence. And the turning point in that battle, by the way, was the killing of General Frazier by Irish marksman Timothy Murphy of General Charles (Co. Meath) Thompson’s Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion.

In 1846, annual days of thanksgiving were being celebrated in at least 14 states when author Sarah Hale began a campaign to make the last Thursday in November a national day of thanksgiving. In the 1860s, she wrote to every state and territorial governor urging the idea as one of national unity in a country torn by civil war. On October 3, 1863, President Lincoln finally declared the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day, bringing together all the past elements of the harvest festival, national patriotism and religious observance.

This is the real story behind Thanksgiving Day and the message it should convey is one of thanks for all our blessings, both civil and religious. This year, instead of just food and football, let us remember to give thanks to the Almighty for the blessings bestowed on our families and on this great nation … and forget the guys in the funny hats with buckles on their shoes!

 

As for our next holiday, would you believe an Irish connection with Christmas? An Archbishop named Nicholas, a generous native of Turkey who devoted his significant inheritance to works of charity, died in Myra, Turkey, in December 342 and became a Saint. The legend of Santa Claus (sant niclaus) grew from the life of this generous Saint and spread across Europe and eventually the world. According to tradition, centuries after his death, a band of Irish-Norman knights traveled to the Holy Land as part of the Crusades, and upon their return to Ireland, they brought with them all or part of the earthly remains of St. Nicholas. They had them re-interred in the Church of St. Nicholas in the village of Newtown, Co. Kilkenny, according to a story by John Fitzgerald in the December 2002 issue of the Cork Holly Bough. Today, the Church of Saint Nicholas lies in ruins in the village of Newtown, which itself fell to ruin by the 17th century. Among the facts supporting the tradition are that the Normans were keen collectors of religious relics, and that Newtown was home to the Cistercian Jerpoint Abbey, which served as a launching point for Irish-Norman Crusaders. The abbey, founded in 1183, was dissolved in 1540, but its remains today attract many tourists. The ruined church, now on private land west of the abbey, contains an unusual grave slab dating to the 1300s.  It is carved with an image of a cleric, thought to be a bishop, and two other heads. The cleric is said to be St. Nicholas and the heads are the two crusaders who brought St. Nicholas’ remains back to Ireland. Hibernian Historian Malcolm Rogers (AOH Div 61 Philadelphia) writes that several Norman noblemen owned land in the locality: “William de Dene had half an acre at Ogensy, the district around Thomastown, ‘Barony of Gowran’, William Archid (le Archer), had a quarter acre at Archerstown, in the ‘parish of St Patrick’s … Today it’s difficult to glean much information about these Norman knights, although some reports describe both William de Dene and William Archid as ‘bellicose and pious’, in fact, just the sort of men we are looking for. Could the two Williams be the Crusaders who brought Santa to Kilkenny?” We may never know, but the Church remains a place of pilgrimage at Christmas.

Kathy Collins, on VirtualTourist.com, noted that Jerpoint Abbey has “ruins from the 14th and 15th century including the outlines of the cloister … It is said that the remains of St. Nicholas, the ancient Bishop of Myra in Turkey who was the original Santa Claus, were moved to Jerpoint Abbey by Crusaders who re-buried him here in a tomb that now is marked by a broken slab decorated with the carving of a monk.”

Is it unusual for St. Nicholas to be buried in Ireland? Not at all. Isn’t Ireland the land of Saints and Scholars.

Happy Thanksgiving and a Holy Christmas to all.

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2012 National Convention

The 2012 Convention Committee comprised of the AOH and LAOH Divisions in Albany and Syracuse is working diligently as we plan for an enjoyable convention at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in scenic upstate New York.

The days of the week for the 2012 convention do not follow the traditional convention schedule we’re accustomed. Our convention schedule is as follows:

Monday, July 9th- Opening Mass followed by the “Taste of New York” Icebreaker

Tuesday, July 10th- Free Night, enjoy one of three events organized by local committee

Wednesday, July 11th- “Irish Night”

Thursday, July 12th- Closing Mass followed by Installation Banquet

Rooms can be reserved now by calling 1-800-771-7711 and mentioning “Hibernians” for our convention rate of $115 a night. Hotel accommodations for our event can only be made by telephone. Please note that hotel rooms are available for our event in many areas of Turning Stone Resort. Specifically, we have secured rooms at “The Hotel,” “The Tower” and “The Inn” (near main resort site). Descriptions and location of each of these areas is available online at www.turningstone.com Free Wi-Fi is available throughout Turning Stone.

In addition to Turning Stone, we have reserved rooms at nearby hotels that include the Fairfield Inn, The Microtel and LaQuinta Inns & Suites. These hotels are across the street or near the entrance to Turning Stone Resort. Shuttle services will be available from each of the hotels to Turning Stone on a regular basis.

The “Hibernian” room rate of $115 is also available on Sunday night for anyone arriving early. Hospitality Suites for your state/region can be reserved by contacting me directly.

The Local Committee is organizing a golf tournament scheduled for Monday, July 9th at the Shenendoah Golf Course as well as “Free Night” events that include a tour of Irish pubs in downtown Syracuse, dinner boat cruise on Skaneateles Lake and Irish music at Turning Stone. More information regarding the golf tournament and “Free Night” events will be sent out with registration information.

Families are welcome to attend the National Convention as Turning Stone has indoor/outdoor tennis courts, three golf courses (one PGA certified), racquetball courts, pools and spa/treatment services. Nearby attractions include many beaches, parks, the Fort Rickey Game Farm, Children’s Museum (Utica), Fort Stanwix and the Boxing Hall of Fame. The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is 60 miles away and the Hall has offered Hibernians a discount to the Museum.

Please contact me with any questions at (518) 489-1752 or via e-mail at liammcnabb@hotmail.com

2011 Christmas Appeal

I appeal to those who historically support our appeal to continue your support. But I want to target the 75 percent of divisions that do not give and ask that you consider giving this year.

In April, I received a request from the Connecticut AOH /LAOH convention to make a presentation regarding Freedom For All Ireland and specifically the yearly Christmas appeal. This request afforded me the opportunity to prepare a detailed look into the history and performance of our yearly appeal. The result was that I developed a presentation that I have been honored to present at several conventions this summer. It gives a brief history of the AOH and our support of a United Ireland, it traced our involvement and support of the struggle for Irish freedom from the end of the 19th century to today, it reviewed the groups we support, where the funds go, and why those funds are still so important.

In the last 10 years the Christmas Appeal has raised over $570,000. This is a number that we can all be proud of. An analysis of the donations show that we have a dedicated core group of donors who fund a great portion of the appeal and a participation rate from AOH divisions that is surprising low. Last year’s appeal served as a perfect case in point. The 2010 appeal generated just under $61,000 and, of that, almost two thirds — or about $40,000 — was the result of 25 donations from boards, divisions and one individual. All of these 25 donations were all over $1,000. The final $21,000 was the result of 157 donations of less than $1,000 and raffle returns of almost $2,000.  Whether the donation was $5 to $6,500 all donations are greatly appreciated and the sacrifice noted. The alarming result of this analysis is that nationally, out of 370 AOH divisions, only 96 contributed or a disappointing 25 percent.

So this year, 2011, I want to once again appeal to those who historically support our appeal to continue your support. But I want to target the 75 percent of divisions that do not give and ask that you consider giving this year.

Consider giving because: The third principle of our national constitution’s preamble states one of the purposes of our organization is: To aid and advance by all legitimate means the aspirations and endeavors of the Irish people for complete and absolute independence, promoting peace (with justice) and unity for all Ireland. Our Christmas appeal helps work toward “One Island, One Ireland with Justice for All.” Be a part of it. The groups we support are helping to build confidence and trust in cross-community and reconciliation efforts.

Consider giving because: Our job is not finished in the North until there is a United Ireland inclusive of all people’s rights. The groups we support are fighting for these rights and justice for those who have been deprived of rights and truth in the past.

Consider giving because: there are ex-republican prisoners who spent large portions of their lives unjustly jailed. They never once complained about their situation, rather these men and women have returned to the communities they were fighting for and defending, to make their communities better. These ex- prisoner groups we support continue to need our help to overcome decades of injustice and prejudice.

Consider giving because: there are ex Irish republican prisoners in this country who have never received a peace dividend for supporting the Good Friday Agreement and helping promote peace in the North. These men — even after living in this country for over two decades as model citizens, without a mark on their records, having paid taxes and raised children who are American citizens — still live with the uncertainty of never knowing when and if they could be denied continued residence. They need our continued support.

Consider giving because: there are more children in the North of Ireland today speaking the Irish language than there has been in generations. Despite the best efforts by those who continue to use subtle forms of discrimination, the Irish language is experiencing a revival in the North. The groups we support are helping continue this renaissance.

Consider giving because: a society that is evolving from over three decades of war needs support to overcome some of the collateral damage of those times. We have supported community groups who have tried to reduce suicides, fund after-school programs for the most economically deprived and provide counseling for those who still deal with the grief and the loss of many years ago.

Finally, consider giving because: if we don’t, no one else will. The sad fact of the matter is that the great majority of the groups we help do not have many other avenues for funding.  This makes the dollars they receive so critical. I do not want to take one penny away from any of the charities we support with our divisions and boards; I only ask that you make it a point this year to give something to the Christmas Appeal. Thank you for your consideration.

 

Notes: Christmas Appeal packets should be in divisions and boards by the time this edition is published, the packet will also be available online in a PDF at www.aoh.com , then from the left hand side of page choose national programs, then choose Freedom for All Ireland… Included in the packet and online will be information on the 2012 Trip to the North (formerly Bloody Sunday Tour)…. Thanks to all those divisions that donated over $1,000 to last year’s appeal for your patience in receiving your recognition award. The company that had provided the customized hurling sticks went out of business unexpectedly. All $1,000 donors have received a beautiful framed print entitled Vindicated, Bloody Sunday. A very limited amount of prints ($25) and framed prints ($75) will be available for purchase the weekend of the National President’s dinner. To reserve your copy email paddyspeed@yahoo.com ….Many thanks to the Brothers and Sisters in Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland who invited me to their conventions to give the FFAI/Christmas appeal presentation ….Congratulations to Clara Reilly, the Sean MacBride award winner.

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We Remember the Heroes

This famous photo of John Pesce, left, helping a burned man to get away from the carnage on the streets of downtown Manhattan on September 11, 2001, with the assistance of a Port Authority officer, right., has been seen around the world. Our brother John was then a senior detective in the NYPD Detective Bureau’s Manhattan Wanted Apprehension Team. John is now a retired Detective-Investigator, and is our AOH South Florida State Organizer. John is disabled as a result of injuries he sustained that awful day. We salute our fellow Hibernian and all the first responders who acted so unselfishly and with such a sense of duty.

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