President’s Message

It is my pleasure to report that the Spring Board meeting weekend in East Durham was a tremendous success and was perhaps one of the best attended in a long while. As I announced at the Board Meeting; the entire weekend was dedicated to N.Y. State’s celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the A.O.H. The Jim Hayes Memorial golf outing was a great success raising funds for our Austin V. Carew Scholarship Fund. It was necessary for a change from one golf course to another nearby course at the last minute as a result of a very rainy week in the Catskills. Our meeting was held on Saturday morning at the Shamrock House where much business of our Order was conducted in fine form with the pleasure of having a number of National Board officers present. Of course our own Brendan Moore, National Vice President and Tom McNabb National Secretary were present and gave very informative and inspiring reports. Also present was the National Director responsible for N.Y. State, Jere Cole who gave us both an update on Catholic Action activities as well as an update on the 175th Anniversary Commemorative Coin.

At the beginning of the meeting we also conducted a memorial service in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the Hunger Strike. Led by our State Historian Mike McCormack we stood in quiet remembrance of the ten brave Irish Nationalist who painfully gave there lives 30 years ago while on hunger strike for truth, justice and to see all Ireland free. We then shared in prayers and heard each of the names of the ten souls. The State Board also produced a memorial prayer card commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Hunger Strike that has been distributed to all jurisdictions. The card was created by F.F.A.I Chairman Tim Miles and Mike McCormack. These cards were widely distributed throughout the State and are still available by contacting Tim Miles.

In light of both of these significant historical events I called on all jurisdictions to sponsor local 175th Anniversary celebrations of some form as well as conducting a memorial service for the 30th Anniversary of the Hunger Strike. As a result I have been receiving many reports of these events and I encourage all jurisdictions that have not yet done so, please schedule and conduct both of these events soon.

Of course the National Boards celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the Order was held in New York City on the weekend of May 2022. There were a number of events held and I would like to congratulate two of our own who were tapped to organize the weekend. Ed Wallace who was the general chairman and was responsible for the entire event and Tom Beirne who was Ed’s right hand man in tightening down all the loose nuts and bolts. Hibernian leaders and Hibernians from throughout the country came here to mark the Anniversary. I recognize and thank all of our New York Hibernians who traveled from far and near to be part of the event.

Now all that’s left is for you to get your 175th Anniversary Commemorative Coin which can be ordered with the form that can be downloaded from our N.Y. State website at www.nyaoh.com or can it be purchased on line through the website. The coin will also be offered for sale at our Convention in Pearl River, Rockland County this July.

Speaking of our N.Y. State Convention, which will be held from Wednesday, July 13th to Sunday, July 17th, planning is very advanced as it should be and the reservations are coming in for all of the events. We have worked hard to put together an outstanding package which ranges from a Wednesday night ‘Icebreaker’ with a full BBQ Dinner menu to two great dinners on Friday and Saturday evenings. I assure you that you will not be disappointed with this Convention’s events. The Journal deadline has been extended to June 24th; I remind and ask all the jurisdictions to take a page in the journal to be part of the historical chronicle of the event as well as supporting the Convention. If you have any questions regarding the Convention kindly contact the Convention Chairman Warren Scullin (917-751-1661).

We are in the midst of the County Convention season and I encourage all Counties to consider carefully when electing your County leaders who will be in office for the next two years. They will have much work to do. I have been very fortunate to have traveled to many Counties to date to participate in there Conventions and to conduct the installation of the newly elected officers. I congratulate those officers and I look forward to being with you for your County Convention. Please make sure that you notify me of the date and time and I will make every effort to be with you.

As always, all the best to you and your families with prayers and best wishes from my family. Stay cool and I look forward to seeing you in Pearl River, Rockland County, July 13th – 17th to conduct the work of the Order in Convention and to share great Hibernian fraternalism with all of you.

Barry Memorial Awaits Decision

Clay model of the Barry Memorial by the sculptor Ron Tunison.

At the past national convention in New Orleans, the AOH unanimously endorsed the effort to build a memorial to Irish-born, first Flag Officer of the United States Navy, Commodore John Barry.  In August of 2008, led by Washington DC State Historian Jack O’Brien, a proposal was submitted to erect a memorial to Commodore John Barry on the grounds of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.  A significant amount of time and effort was put into preparing the proposal: numerous meetings with the Academy staff, research on other memorials for design ideas, discussions with artists and memorial building companies, plan writes and rewrites, and countless hours behind a table at Irish events throughout the mid-Atlantic area to obtain support for the proposal. Initially, the concept conceived by Jack O’Brien and very professionally proposed by him and his team was turned down by the Naval Academy.  In a letter from the Superintendent of the Naval Academy, Vice Admiral J.L. Fowler (stamped Jan 9, 2009), he informed Jack that the proposal would not be appropriate for the Academy grounds.  He did so without explanation.

Not deterred in the least and not willing to take “no” for an answer, Brother O’Brien got right back in the game and requested a way to appeal the decision.  Jack has spent the last year resubmitting the proposal to the Academy and at the same time soliciting support from many sources including numerous retired Admiralty and a list of senators and congressman that is growing so fast he might just get a congressional mandate directing the Academy to build it.  He has garnered support Governor O’Mally of Maryland, from the Philadelphia Council of the Navy League of the United States, The President of Fordham University, the Board of Erin and many others. Frank Duggan, a lobbyist for more than 30 years and a long time Commodore John Barry Division member in DC recently thanked and congratulated Jack, for all the support you have garnered for this memorial. I have watched your progress with admiration.  You and your team have touched all the bases that need to be approached for support and have made an incredibly strong case after being initially refused by the Naval Academy. We still have more to do, but you have done an outstanding job and we are all grateful.

The planned memorial will be fabricated in granite and will be eight feet high and ten feet in width. On the front of the memorial will be a thirty-inch circular bronze relief of Commodore John Barry.  Below it will be a forty by twenty-six inch enlarged duplicate copy (in bronze) of Barry’s naval commission “Number One”, adorned with the signature of George Washington.  This was the first naval commission of an officer in our nation’s history under the Constitution.  On the back of the memorial will be a circular relief of thirty inches of the Navy’s first seal.  Below it will be a bronze plaque, giving the naval career highlights of Commodore John Barry.  Codori Memorials of Gettysburg Pennsylvania is the general contractor and will use Vermont marble.  The sculptor is Ron Tunison of Cairo, New York.  Both of these contractors have worked together in the past to create the Irish Brigade Monument at Bloody Lane on Antietam National Battlefield.

In a recent showing of significant support from Members of Congress a letter was sent to Vice Admiral Folwer endorsing the AOH’s efforts to build the memorial.  The co-signers of the letter included the Co-Chairs of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs Elliot Engle (D-NY), Peter King (R-NY), Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) as well as the Chair of the Friends of Ireland Richard Neal (D-MA). The letter noted that they all had co-sponsored the legislation signed into law by President George W. Bush, hailing Barry’s invaluable naval contributions and recognizing Barry as the first flag officer of the United States Navy.  The letter stated that they strongly support the efforts of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) to erect a memorial to Commodore John Barry on the public grounds of the United States Naval Academy.  We trust that their appeal will receive the favorable consideration it deserves.

One new factor in the decision process at the Academy is the fact that a new Superintendent was just appointed to replace Vice Admiral Fowler.  Rear Admiral Michael H. Miller is currently awaiting Senate confirmation before assuming the post.  Once a positive decision has been made by the Academy the process of raising significant donations will begin in earnest.  For more information please contact Jack O’Brien at 301-336-5167.

Share