Staten Island Hibernians Meet

At the September 10th meeting of St. Columcille Division #4, Richmond County, President Thomas F. Gray was delighted to welcome Brother Martin Crimmins, New York District 5 Director, as well as Brother Gerald Mulvaney, Richmond County President, to our monthly meeting.

The Division’s Brothers bid a heart cead mile failte to these fraternal dignitaries, as the Division’s meeting was well attended by over 35 Brothers, and we were also honored to have in attendance Br. Michael Hannon, CFC, Assistant Chaplain and faculty member of Msgr. Farrell High School on Staten Island, who led the Division’s opening and closing prayers.

The Division received a lecture on Irish history about the Hibernian Rifles and Hibernian Knights, two paramilitary fraternities of the AOH in the 1880s up to the 1920s in America, and the little-known role of the courageous Hibernian Rifles (Irish American Alliance) in the Easter Rebellion of 1916 in Dublin from Brother Denis P. McGowan (pictured right). 

The Hibernian Rifles under Commandant John Joseph Scollan joined their comrades of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, supported by the brave women of Cumann na mBan  (Irish nationalist women’s organization) and Na Fianna Eireann (Irish nationalist boy scouts), in the heroic fight for Ireland’s freedom. Less than 1,000 poorly-armed Irish men, women and boys faced over 10,000 battle-hardened soldiers of the British Army, well-equipped with rifles, machine guns, artillery, improvised armored cars, and even the Royal Navy gunboat Helga that shelled Dublin’s Liberty Hall, as well as unlimited ammunition and reinforcements from England.  About 40 Hibernian Rifles served in defense of the Dublin General Post Office until its surrender.

The role of the Hibernian Rifles in the Easter Rebellion of 1916 is often overlooked and forgotten by historians, but we as Hibernians can look back with pride on those brave Brothers who stood shoulder to shoulder with heroes like Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, Cathal Brugha, The O’Rahilly, Thomas Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh, Sean MacDiarmada (himself a Brother Hibernian), and Countess Constance Markievicz.

St. Columcille Division # 4 meets every second Monday at the Staten Island Elks Lodge No. 841 at 8:00 pm. The Division was established on April 3, 1970 by Brother Philip McCusker and Brother William J. Bartnett, and currently has over 196 Brothers. Several Division # 4 Brothers also serve on the Richmond County Board as officers. 

The Division is very involved with the Staten Island Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, the Staten Ireland Irish Fair, the Columcille Irish Cultural Center, the Hibernian Ball, and the AOH CuChulainn Celtic Warrior Major Degree Team. It also sponsors an annual memorial Mass and communion breakfast, a golf outing to support our charities, and a Saint Patrick’s Day dinner dance.

News item provided by Brother Denis McGowan; photo by Brother Kevin F. Mannion

Staten Island Hibernians Welcome Four New Brothers

(l-r) New Hibernians Martin Fleishman, Wayne Sommers, Michael King and John McDonald

Four new Brother Hibernians were initiated into the Order at the June 11th meeting of St. Columcille Division #4, Richmond County. The candidates were sworn into the Order by President Thomas F. Gray, and the initiation ceremony was witnessed by Brother Martin Crimmins, New York District 5 Director.

The Division bid a heart cead mile failte to new Brothers Martin Fleishman, Wayne Sommers, Michael King and John McDonald. Each newly-initiated Brother was presented with copies of a short history of the AOH, a lapel pin of the Emblem of the Order, and a document describing the meaning of the AOH Emblem by Brother Denis P. McGowan, Richmond County Board Recording Secretary.

The June Division meeting was well attended by over 40 Brothers, and we were delighted to have Br. Michael Hannon, CFC, Assistant Chaplain and faculty member of Msgr. Farrell High School, who led us in the Division’s opening and closing prayers.

The Irish history lesson being delivered by Brother Denis P. McGowan

The Division received a lecture on Irish history on the Molly Maguires of Pennsylvania from Brother McGowan, and the fight against injustice, brutal working conditions and their framing by a Pinkerton detective who was an agent provocateur or agitator. The Pinkerton detective led these Irish Catholic men to become victims of brutal retaliation from the rich mine owners’ private police force and the corrupt county prosecutor. Innocent Brother Hibernians were wrongfully convicted and hanged because of the false testimony of the Pinkerton detective. Over a century later, the Governor of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pardoned all of these Irishmen, recognizing their innocence and the travesty of justice that had occurred.

St. Columcille Division # 4 meets every second Monday at the Staten Island Elks Lodge No. 841 at 8:00 pm. The Division was established on April 3, 1970 by Brother Philip McCusker and Brother William J. Bartnett, and currently has over 196 Brothers. Several Division # 4 Brothers also serve on the Richmond County Board as officers. The Division is very involved with the Staten Island Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, the Staten Ireland Irish Fair, the Columcille Irish Cultural Center and the AOH CuChulainn Celtic Warrior Major Degree Team.

News item submitted by Brother Denis P. McGowan; photos submitted by Brother Denis P. McGowan and Brother Kevin Mannion