Staten Island Hibernians Gather For Annual Memorial Mass

AOH New York State District 5 Director Marty Crimmins doing the first reading at the Memorial Mass in Staten Island

On Sunday, April 7, 2019, Staten Island’s AOH St. Columcille Division 4 and LAOH St. Brigid Division 4, joined by their family and friends, held their annual memorial Mass for deceased Brother and Sister Hibernians at the Church of St. Joachim and St. Anne on the grounds of the historic Mount Loretto. Over 75 Brother and Sister Hibernians attended the Mass, celebrated by Rev. Father Steve Ryan, SDB, assisted by Brother Anthony Carratozzollo, Eucharistic Minister. The Mass was organized these past three years thanks to the dedicated efforts of Brother Thomas Gray, Sr., St. Columcille Division 4’s immediate Past President and the Richmond County Board Vice President.

Mount Loretto was the site of the orphanage established by Rev. Father John Christopher Drumgoole. Father Drumgoole, born in Granard, County Longford on August 15, 1816, was ordained a priest in 1869, and established the orphanage Mission of the Immaculate Conception at Mount Loretto by purchasing three farms on Staten Island in 1882. The orphanage was a model institution and ensured that its children received both an education and safe and sanitary housing for its thousands of orphaned children. As well as providing for their spiritual guidance and teaching them a trade, the orphanage had the largest dairy farm in lower New York State, producing thousands of gallons of fresh milk daily for their children, as well as making their own butter and cream.

Sister Margaret F. Walsh-Delbagno, LAOH Richmond County Board President, doing the second reading.

The AOH and LAOH think it fitting that we have our annual memorial Mass on this sacred ground established by a loyal son of Ireland who served his Church and his community with great devotion, until his death on March 28, 1888 from contracting pneumonia from the Blizzard of 1888 while out ministering to the faithful.

Brother Martin Crimmins, AOH District 5 Director and Past President of St. Columcille Division 4, served as the first reader of the Scriptures during the Mass, and Sister Margaret F. Walsh-Delbagno, LAOH Richmond County Board President and Past President of St. Brigid Division 4, read the second reading of the Scriptures. 

Father Steve Ryan, SDB, gave a very warm and inspiring homily, talking about the life of Rev. Father John Drumgoole and his life of dedication, sacrifice and devotion to the poor orphans of New York, and the service rendered by the nuns and priests over the many years that the orphanage was in existence. Father Ryan also stressed the importance of prayer, confession, repentance and Holy Eucharist in our lives, and to focus on Christ in our daily living, and not on the materialism of this life.

Father Steve Ryan, SDB and a longtime member of St. Columcille Division 4, was the celebrant of the Mass.

Brother Kevin F. Mannion, Vice President of St. Columcille Division 4, provided the musical selection for the Mass. The entrance hymn was “On Eagle’s Wings,” the offertory hymn was “Here I Am, Lord,”, the Communion hymn was “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate,” the Communion reflection hymn was the hymn “Lady of Knock.”

Following Holy Communion, the names of all deceased Sister and Brother Hibernians who have passed on to their eternal rest, since the establishment of these Divisions on Staten Island in 1970, were read aloud, accompanied by the tolling of a bell for each departed Brother or Sister Hibernian. The family of Brother Philip McCusker, a charter member and first officer of the St. Columcille Division 4, also attended the Mass. The charters of both AOH St. Columcille Division 4 and LAOH St. Brigid Division 4 were displayed beside the altar and draped in mourning bunting, and were flanked by the Irish Tricolor and the American Stars and Stripes, as well as by two Irish pikes.

“The Soldier’s Song” and the “Star-Spangled Banner” were sung at the conclusion of the Mass, and the recessional hymn was “May the Road Rise to Meet You.”

Brother and Sister Hibernians enjoying breakfast with their families and friends.

After the Mass, all of the Brother and Sister Hibernians and their loved ones adjourned to Mount Loretto sports complex, where they enjoyed a delicious communion breakfast provided by renown Chef Eddie Canlon (As winner on TV’s “Chopped”). We were honored to have in attendance Brother Jack King, the Grand Marshal of the 2019 55th Annual Staten Island Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, as well as an AOH National Life Member, Brother Timothy O’Sullivan of St. Oliver Plunkett Division 16, Freehold, NJ, join us for the Mass and breakfast. Brother O’Sullivan is the proud father of Brother Neil O’Sullivan of Staten Island’s John F. Kennedy Division 1, and the father-in-law of Sister Cathy O’Sullivan of St. Brigid Division No. 4.

Story and photos by Brother Denis P. McGowan

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