Historical Happenings for April 2018


by Mike McCormack, AOH NY State Historian

By Nheyob - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39732088The name Patrick is one of the most popular names in Ireland, and that is quite understandable that parents would name their offspring after our patron saint.  In the Irish language, the name is spelled Padraic, which accounts for the nickname Paddy, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as Paddy Noonan and Paddy Moloney will tell you.  However, when an otherwise innocent word is used as a derogatory term to denigrate an entire race or nationality, it becomes a racial slur.

There is nothing wrong with `negro‘, the French word for black; and not all of our black brethren came from Nigeria, but the collective term, derived from either or both of those words, which was used to denote an entire race is an example of prejudice at its worst and insults our God-given intelligence.  Even sadder is when some members of the insulted nationality use that term themselves in ignorance of its meaning, or to impress those who employ them or for their own economic benefit.

Thankfully, anti-defamation groups within many nationalities have eliminated most of those terms from our national vocabulary by voicing objections to their use, whenever and wherever they appear, even when it’s not intended as an insult.  It was simply a process of education.

There was a time when all Irish were collectively referred to as Paddies, and it wasn’t always a nickname for Patrick used by a friend.  Just ask any Irishman who emigrated to England.  Mick is another term that was used.  It originated because so many Irish carried Mc (a Gaelic term meaning `son of ) as a preface to their names.  Even though the words, Paddy and Mick, are not unusual, the use of those terms in a derogatory manner made them a racial slur that carried the connotation that those whom it described were inferior.  It was associated with a stereo-typical character, unskilled, unlettered, and alcoholic.  As in most cases it was not the word that offended, but the stereotype that it represented.

Here in America, we are many years and many miles from the source of those terms, but that stereotypical `stage Irishman’ crossed the seas and almost became a part of our American culture.  In the early 1800s Irishmen were regularly portrayed with monkey-like features in Harper’s Magazine.  Fortunately, that has changed, and I dare say that no one intends an insult when they refer to March 17 as Paddy’s Day, nor do they know that it originally meant a day celebrated by the Paddies.  Otherwise who would advertise a Paddy’s Day Dance and expect a good attendance by the Irish.  Like other races that have fought the use of such terms, the Irish defeated the derogatory meaning by proving their worth in the lands where they settled, as well as in Ireland after Independence.  As for the unskilled, unlettered, alcoholic stage Irish image: museums around the world, hosting exhibitions of creative Celtic and Irish art, have helped to defeat the notion of unskilled; the fact that one Irish city has produced more Nobel Prizewinners in literature than most other countries, has defeated the impression of illiteracy; and recent EEC surveys show Ireland to have not only the highest percentage non-drinking population in Europe, but the second lowest nation for alcohol consumption with only 2.2 gallons per year.  Maybe we can document that we never deserved to be known as Paddies, but the stereotypical Stage Irishman unfortunately can still be found from time to time, often on St. Patrick’s Day cards.

While we have altered the meaning of Paddy as it is applied to Irishmen, there are still two issues we should oppose — and oppose vehemently.  One is the use of that stereotypical stage Irish image on signs, posters, and greeting cards; the other is the application of the term Paddy to our Patron Saint.  Even if no malicious meaning is intended, our patron saint should not be referred to by a nickname.  Our Italian brethren never call St. Anthony, St. Tony, nor do our Scottish cousins refer to St. Andy or St. Maggie.

To avoid sounding paranoid, I hasten to add that this practice is done more through ignorance than malice, so it calls for education.  If we hold St. Patrick in the reverent honor to which he is entitled, then let us protect his name, and let those who designate him as St. Paddy hear from us by mail or phone or in person.  Educate them to our feelings, and they will avoid that mistake in the future.  If we are effective, we shall never again see the insulting image of a bumbling drunk to represent us and our families, and we shall never hear the term St. Paddy’s Day again. . . As for the term Paddies itself, it should be a source of pride that we were able to change its meaning simply by exhibiting our true character.  It’s like the term Narrowback: originally a derogatory term to signify American-born Irish who were not as strong and as broad-shouldered as their immigrant fathers.  Today, it signifies the proud combination of American by birth and Irish by the Grace of God.

Historical Happenings for March 2016

Saint Patrick’s Escape


by Mike McCormack, AOH NY State Historian

Tripartite Life of St. Patrick

Tripartite Life of St. Patrick

Many versions of the life of St. Patrick exist.  This includes The Tripartite Life of St. Patrick in the Book of Armagh which is made up of three homilies on St. Patrick by St. Fiacc, former Bard and Bishop of Leinster; Tirechan, a 7th century Bishop in Mayo; and Muirchu, a 7th century monastic historian as well as biographies by St, Evin and many others.  However taking facts from his own autobiographical Confessio, more than the writings of those who venerated him in later years and tried to glorify his reputation, we get a more intimate picture of the remarkable man behind the saint.

From reliable sources, we know that our patron Saint was named Maewyn Succat when raiders of Irish High King Niall of the Nine Hostages kidnapped him, at about age 16, from his home on the west coast of Wales.  He was sold to a Chieftain named Miluic near Ballymena in County Antrim.  As St. Patrick, Succat later wrote that he had worked as a slave, tending flocks on Mount Slemish (from the Irish: Sliabh Mis), sleeping in the cold, and often going hungry.  We know that he came from a Christian family for his father was a deacon and during his captivity, he turned to God, praying night and day.  One night, in a dream he heard the voice of God tell him that a ship was ready to take him away and, after six long years of penance, prayer and suffering, he escaped.  He wrote that God had humbled him in captivity and under His special guidance was able to return to his own country.  The details of his escape are sketchy and there has been a difference of opinion regarding the port from which he made his escape however, in his own later writings, St. Patrick tells us that the port from which he sailed was about 200 (Roman) miles from Slemish.

St. Patrick's Confessio

   St. Patrick’s Confessio

When writing his Confessio many years later, St. Patrick was well acquainted with distances in Ireland, especially between Antrim and Mayo, which in his mission he had traveled many times.  Further, 200 Roman miles is about 185 English miles, and the port of Killala in Mayo happens to be about that distance from Mount Slemish.  Wicklow is also that distance but he wouldn’t be likely to head south for that would bring him along the east coast through the most populated part of the country where a runaway slave would almost certainly be re-captured.  The Tripartite states that Miliuc pursued Succat to bring him back, but the light-footed youth was able to evade his pursuers.

Killala, Mayo Round Tower

Killala, Mayo Round Tower

Another reason to favor Killala is that the Wood of Focluth was there along the shore of the western sea.  The Saint tells us more than once that it was from that Wood of Focluth that a youth (angel?) named Victoricus brought him  letters calling him back to Ireland and it was the voice of those who dwelt by the Wood of Focluth that invited him, holy youth come once more and walk among us as before.  These words imply that he stayed among people who lived by Focluth Wood for a while and that can only have been when he was escaping.  We don’t know how long he stayed at Focluth Wood before he found a ship, but he must have lodged a while  with those who took him in after his escape.  Seemingly, he was received with genuine hospitality – a tradition among the Irish.  He was a fugitive, hungry, foot-sore, and friendless, when he came seeking food and shelter.  It may have been in return for work performed, but either way it was most likely here that the runaway slave befriended the children whose voices afterwards called him back to Erin.  Still full of religious fervor and gratitude to God who was guiding his escape, he was moved by the fact that these children would grow up without knowing the true God and it is likely that here the idea first came to him of one day returning to rescue those young souls from spiritual exile by teaching them about the true God.  Gratitude was a striking trait in the character of St. Patrick, and it is most evident here.  Ever after, they were on his mind and he never rested until he turned his steps back toward the western sea, to lead them into the light of the Gospel.  It is one of the most touching incidents in the whole history of our great Apostle. Focluth Wood is one of the most interesting places referred to in the biographies of St. Patrick and its name is reflected in the modern town land of Foghill, just south of Lackan Bay.  In olden times Focluth Wood extended from the head of Lackan Bay to Killala.  Killala was, and still is, a great harbor with many quiet coves where the lighter craft of the time could easily glide in and out with the tide.  The trees of Focluth Wood surrounded these quiet coves, for as yet there was no Killala until St. Patrick later founded a church there.  It was in one of those coves, that the ship was waiting, by Divine providence, to carry the most precious passenger ever to sail from the shores of holy Ireland.

The Life and Writings of St. Patrick

The Life and Writings of St. Patrick

About two miles north, near the point where the Rathfran River enters the bay; there is a low-lying ridge of rocks, still referred to as St. Patrick’s Rocks.  Just above these rocks is the small bay where French ships, under General Humbert, landed in 1798 and that may have been where Patrick’s ship was drawn up on the sandy beach.  The Most Rev. Dr. Healy, Archbishop of Tuam, in his Life of St Patrick in 1905, wrote that his research led him to believe that the place where the ship docked was in the inner harbor of Killala, close to the spot where St. Patrick long after built a church, a remnant of which still stands.  Either way, the coast around Killala seems to fit the bill.  St. Patrick wrote that on the day the ship was about to start on her voyage, he asked to be taken on board as a passenger, but the captain angrily rebuffed him.   He left to return to the hut where he was staying and on the way, began to pray and before his prayer was finished he heard one of the crew shouting, Come back quickly, they are calling you.  St. Patrick later wrote, I immediately returned and they said to me: ‘Come with us, we will take thee in good faith,’ which Archbishop Healy interprets as meaning on credit.  In St. Patrick’s writings he refers to an unexplained tradition of servitude which he refused to do but his prayerful plea must have touched them for he wrote, I had some hope that they might come to the faith of Christ; therefore I kept with them, and forthwith we set sail.  Much of the account of the incident is obscure for the original text is corrupt.

The Tripartite states that he was bound for the Roman Province of Britain in a 3-day voyage.  Any craft of the time could easily make the western coast of Scotland or Wales (then called Britain) in three days.  Though we don’t know exactly where they landed, we do know that they had many dogs with them.  It is possible they were a hunting party heading for the Scottish highlands and the great Caledonian Forest.  We know from the bardic tales of Finn MacCool that Irish warriors often hunted in Caledonia.  Another reason for the trip could have been the sale of wolfhounds which were valued by the Romans in Britain as combat animals in games.

In his Confessio, St. Patrick wrote, After three days we made land, and then for twenty-eight days traveled through a desert.  They had no food, and were sorely pressed with hunger.  Then one day the captain said to me ‘Well, now, Christian, you say your God is great and omnipotent.  Why can you not then pray for us, for we are in danger of perishing from hunger, and we can hardly see anywhere a single human being’.  Thereupon I plainly said to them, ‘Be ye truly converted to the Lord my God, to whom nothing is impossible, that He may send food in your way and you may be filled for He hath abundance everywhere’.  And so, through God’s help, it came to pass.  A herd of swine appeared on the road before their eyes, and they killed many of them, and remained there for two nights until they were well refreshed.  Then they gave great thanks to God, and I was honored in their eyes.

Chronical of the Picts and Scots

Chronicle of the Picts and Scots

Such is St. Patrick’s account of his journey.  The story is consistent with hunters losing their way in a great forest and, seeing neither game nor men, being reduced to the verge of starvation, but St. Patrick called it a desert!  There is no great desert anywhere on the west coast from Scotland to Wales.  However, in the early fifth century, the Caledonian Forest was not a forest of tall trees as we know a forest, but rather an immense extent of scrub and bush.  It was, in truth, a barren land, as the Tripartite calls it: empty and deserted.  The question was answered by an ancient description of Scotland found in the Chronicle of the Picts and Scots published by H.M. General Register House in 1867; it mentions the mountains and deserts of Argyle!   And Succat was on his way home.

Patrick tells us no more in his Confessio about his friends from Killala. We don’t know what became of them although it is significant that he did return, not only to walk among them once more, but to build them a church.

The Mid-Hudson St. Patrick’s Parade

The 2013 Mid-Hudson St. Patrick’s Parade in Goshen, NY  this year is honoring the Late Chaplin of our Division, Reverend John Colman Logan O. Carm. He was an active member in Division 4, Ancient Order of Hibernians – Fr. Emmanuel Hourihan, Orange County, Middletown, NY.

He passed away on January 2 and his sister, Bridget Logan Wilson, and fellow Carmelite priests will stand in for him as Grand Marshal as we all honor his life of caring and giving to his fellow man. Fr. Jack was much honored to be nominated as the 2013 Grand Marshal and so very proud of his Irish Heritage.

Sunday, March 10, 2013 The Mid-Hudson St. Patrick’s Parade in Goshen New York, Orange County

9:00 am – Mass at The National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 70 Carmelite Drive, Middletown, NY 10940,

10:30 am – Grand Marshal’s Brunch, Kuhl’s Highland House, 12 Highland Avenue, Middletown, N.Y.

Following the Mass

1:00 pm – Parade line up at Orange County Government Center parking lot

2:00 pm Parade step off

Aids are from;

Joseph Duelk Jr. AOH Division 1 – Tom McCarthy

Father Donald Whalen AOH Division 2  – Ray Fitzgerald

Fr. Emmanuel Hourihan AOH Division 4 – Ron Heppes

St. Therese LAOH Division 4 -Linda Kelly

Mary of the Gael LAOH Division 5 – Gail Edmonds

The President (Brother Kevin Cummings) and officers of the AOH Orange County Board will lead the Divisions of Orange County in the parade.

Mineola Parade

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

King Park Parade

Third Annual Kings Park St Patrick’s Day Parade Saturday, March 2nd Noon Step-off Parade Route: Corner of Lou Avenue and Pulaski Rd to Main Street to Church Street to Old Dock Road, Ending at William T. Rogers Middle School Grand Marshal: Charles “Buster” Toner

Aides: Chuck Barrett
Peggy Gilmartin
Jimmy Kirby
Jeanette Lush
Dan Meehan
Bill Murphy
Eddie Reddy
George Tiernan

President’s Message – March 2013

The clean up from Sandy is still ongoing.  This is going to be a long process for some of our members. I ask that if you are able to assist in any way please do. The National Board is still accepting donations.

As National Charity and Missions Chair I ask that all Divisions and County Boards fill out the proper form and send it to me via email or hard copy. These forms also include man hours.

As State Sports Chair, Our State Bowling Tournament will be held in Schenectady on April 20, 2013. The James F. Hayes Golf Classic will again be held the Friday before our East Durham Board Meeting. The Date is May 3, 2013. The forms are included in this issue.

With St. Patrick’s Day comes the Marching Season. Please remember that you represent our Order.

I hope everyone has a Happy St. Patrick’s Day and a Holy Easter.

Nassau County AOH Feis and Irish Festival

The 40th annual Feis and Festival will take place at Hofstra University on September 16, 2012 from 9 AM to 6 PM. Honoree this year is NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade Chairman John T. Dunleavy with Music by the Druids. Competitions with Dancing, Piping and Music, art and Soda Bread will happen during the day.

Admission is $10.00 per person with Children under 16 and Hofstra Students admitted for Free.

Catholic Mass Celebrated at 11 am.

More Information Please Visit www.nassauaohfeis.com

Irish 2000 Festival

For two days in mid-September, the Saratoga County Fairgrounds in Ballston Spa, NY is home to all things Irish as the 16th Annual Irish 2000 Music & Arts Festival takes place.

The festival, ranked one of the top five of its kind in the United States, kicks off with  non-stop music from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.  Friday, September 14. On Saturday, the festival gates open at 10 a.m. and performances continue until 11 p.m. with some of the best Celtic entertainment in the world.

“Irish 2000 has become a tradition — a grand celebration of midway to St. Patrick’s Day. Each year we welcome about 15,000 people to the Fairground’s for two days filled with music, dance and so much more,” said Festival Executive Director Matt Nelligan.


The not-for-profit Irish Music and Arts Festival, Inc. organizes the annual festival.  The goal of the organization is, “To preserve, protect and promote Irish history and culture in the 21st century.”

In addition to producing the festival, Irish 2000 also supports other non-profit organizations. Since its inception, the festival has donated more than $350,000 to a variety of charities.

Orange County Feast of Our Lady of Knock

Please join us as we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Knock


Date:               Sunday, August 19, 2012

Time:               9:00 am Holy Mass

Where:          Main Chapel, The National Shrine of Our   Lady of Mt. Carmel, 70 Carmelite Drive, Middletown, NY 10940

Hosted by:      Orange County AOH, LAOH Division 4 & LAOH Division 5

Price:             Adults $15.00/Children 6-12 $7.00

                     Children 5 and under are free


All proceeds to benefit The Shrine, Orange County AOH Sail Fund, & Project St. Patrick


Full Irish Breakfast immediately following the Procession