Massachusetts News

Summer departed on a sad note as well known National Life Member Paul Harrington of Div 10, Lynn, passed away. Paul had served this Order at every level. He was most noticeable running the Credential Committee at many of our National Conventions. We also lost another fine Hibernian with the passing of Past LAOH State President Joan O’Brien; she had also served as the LAOH National Pro Life chair and had been awarded National Life Membership. Both services saw large numbers of Hibernians turn out to pay the respects. May they rest in peace.

Father John Murphy Div 9 of Plymouth conducted their annual Brig St John Observance on October 3. The St John was a ship that went down off of Cohasset and 99 Irish souls were lost. The Massachusetts AOH & LAOH erected a Celtic cross in the Cohasset Central Cemetery in 1914 near the gravesite of those recovered. Div 9 annually conducts a mass and wreath laying at the Cross. Dr Bill O’Connell and his committee are to be thanked for their continued efforts to see that those lost on the St. John are not forgotten.

James Connolly Div 17 Blackstone commemorated a stone to remember the Irish immigrants that had worked in the mills, the railroad and the canal in the Blackstone Valley region which stretches from Massachusetts to Rhode Island. The day started with a mass at St Paul’s celebrated by Bishop McManus of the Worcester diocese. A procession followed to the Blackstone Library where the stone was erected. Bishop McManus and Ret. Bishop Reilly blessed the stone. Congressman Richard Neal was the keynote speaker and he thanked the AOH for their continued efforts on behalf of Irish immigrants. Div 1 Newport, Rhode Island, was in attendance with their Pipe Band, Div 36, Worcester, was present with their Color Guard as was Rhode Island AOH State President Rick O’Neill. Congratulations to Div 17 President Dan Doyle and his membership for putting on an impressive ceremony and erecting a magnificent stone. The stone has been placed at the entrance to the library in hopes of stimulating an interest in future generations as to what the Irish contributed to the Blackstone Valley.

James Michael Curley Div 1, Roslindale, hosted our most recent State Board meeting. It was well attended, we had lively discussions, Division updates and State and National news was passed on to County Boards and Divisions. Thank you to Div 1 President Kevin O’Leary for his efforts in making the day a success.

Tomas Cardinal O’Fiaich Div 14 Watertown held its annual golf tournament at the Wayland Country Club. This outing supports the Division’s Scholarship fund. By all accounts it was another success for a great cause. Thanks goes out to Joe McCusker our tournament organizer

The Essex County Memorial Mass was conducted at Merrimack College. Essex County Chaplain William Watters was the celebrant. A very good crowd was on hand and a collation followed mass. The event is co-hosted by the Essex County AOH and LAOH Boards. The County Board Presidents, Husband and Wife team Frank and Margaret O’ Connor are to be commended for their efforts.

Div 8 AOH in Lawrence held their 24th Annual Turkey Cheer on Saturday, November 13, 2010 at the Claddagh Pub and Restaurant in Lawrence. A capacity crowd gathered from AOH and LAOH circles across the commonwealth for a fun filled night. George J. Thomas, longtime member of Div 8 served as General Chairman of this annual autumn event. Monies raised from this event are used for scholarships and other cultural activities.  Plans are also underway for Div 8 AOH & LAOH 2011 Joint Installation of Officers which will be held on Sunday, February 13, 2011 at Merrimack College in Casca Hall. The Installation will begin with a Mass celebrated by Div 8 AOH Chaplain, the Rev. William Waters OSA. A social with refreshments will follow the Mass and Installation on the grounds of Merrimack College in North Andover.

The State Officers have been hard at work with their counterparts on the LAOH side in planning the 2011 State Convention more information will be released when package prices are finalized

A memorial will be erected in Lawrence for David Burke in early November. Former Ambassador to the Vatican and AOH JFK Award winner Raymond Flynn is the scheduled speaker. A full report of the event is included in this Digest.

Merry Christmas and a Happy and prosperous New Year to all!

Blackstone Hibernians Honor Their Irish Ancestors

It was a beautiful, breezy, autumn day as the flags of America and Ireland blew briskly and proudly on the streets of Blackstone. The Blackstone Ancient Order of Hibernians, Div 17 of Massachusetts chose Saturday, October 16 as the day to honor their Irish ancestors for their many contributions to the Blackstone Valley of MA and RI.

The day commenced with a mass at St. Paul’s Church in Blackstone. It was concelebrated with Bishops Robert McManus and Daniel O’Reilly, Monsignor Robert Johnson, all from the Diocese of Worcester and Blackstone Hibernian Chaplin Reverend Gerald Finnegan, Pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish of Woonsocket, RI. The day continued after mass with a parade from St. Paul’s Church to the Blackstone Library. The march was escorted by a Blackstone Police motorcade, followed by police officer Matt Mantoni, dressed in kilt and playing his bagpipes. Blackstone Hibernian President Daniel Doyle, Paul Beaulieu, Tom Caulfield, Tim Doyle, Father Finnegan, Tom Lee, Dennis Maloney, Bill Maloney, Joe McCue, Leo Shiel and Ken White marched and carried their Division colors and banner. Also marching were Div 1of Newport, RI, who brought their AOH bagpipe band and Div 36 of Worcester presented their colors and banner. Dignitaries who marched were Blackstone Selectmen Robert Dubois, Charlie Sawyer, Town Administrator Ken Bianchi, Congressman Richard Neal, MA State Senator Richard Moore and Representative Jennifer Callahan,

Arriving at the Blackstone Public Library, President Daniel Doyle assembled spectators around the impressive black granite monument veiled in white. The unveiling was done by Eileen Greene, wife of retired Blackstone Fire Chief John Greene and first Div 17 president who was unable to attend due to medical reasons. At the top of the monument are three impressive graphic designs depicting the major contributions-the canals, the railroads and industry. Below the graphic designs are the etched words:

Dedicated to the men and women of Irish

Heritage who came and settled in the

Blackstone Valley. In recognition of their

Tireless efforts, skills and contributions

To the building of the Blackstone Canal,

The railroads and industry in this valley.

Presented by the Ancient Order of Hibernians,

Blackstone, Massachusetts

Founded in 1985

First President

“Chief” John F. Greene

Hibernian President Doyle elaborated on the past history of the Irish contributions and thanked Bishop McManus for the blessing of the monument and the enlightening and insightful speeches eloquently delivered by the above named dignitaries

A collation of food and drink in the library hall concluded the day’s events. Kudos to Paul Beaulieu for the delicious spread of fine food and beverage. Also thank you to the Trustees and library staff for allowing the Hibernians to erect the monument on their grounds.  A very special thank you to Ray Flaherty and his crew at Murray Monument who worked so diligently with the Monument Committee to ensure that it would turn out as well as it did.  For those who would like to view the monument, it is just outside the main entrance of the library in a beautifully landscaped, well lit area.  Blackstone residents can view the day’s activities on Cable 8.

Worcester Division #36 – A Year of Hibernianism

It’s been an inspiring year for Div 36.  In May, Irish President Mary McAleese arrived with her husband and a number of Irish delegates. She was on a trip to the States to visit a few important events in MA one of her stops was our own Worcester Hibernian Cultural Center (WHCC) in Worcester.  She met with the mayor of Worcester, Lt. Governor Murry and others at Worcester town hall. Next she placed a wreath on the Celtic cross in Worcester commons. Finally she played the WHCC a visit. She was met by members of both the men’s and the ladies AOH 36.  Gifts were given hands were shook and stories were told. The most influential part, in this writer’s opinion, was her speech the president spoke in such a calm and confident way with passion and reverence this writer was speechless and honored.  This writer amongst others was able to shake her hand and with pride thanked her for this great honor.  It was truly a memory cast into the minds and hearts of all that were present.

The next great experience at the WHCC was that we had been picked to host the annual friendship dinner. This was a chance to break bread with friends and break down any walls of adversity.  A diverse group of both religious and cultural organizations were present.  The presidents and representatives of all organizations present spoke about progressive ideas of diversity and unity.  All speakers spoke on Worcester County as one home of some many different groups and how we can all work together towards charity and hope.

Later in the month we celebrated the annual An Gorta Mass and dinner. It was a special event honoring those who made sacrifices in the midst of oppression. In June we celebrated our Irish heritage once again with our annual music festival.  In September we had our annual canal diggers 5K road race honoring the Irish who lived and died creating the Blackstone canal which in turn brought life to New England. In January we had our yearly AOH LAOH celebration for our past years growth and accomplishments. The biggest accomplishment we celebrated was our fourth year at our current location and finally having a permanent home in Worcester. We celebrated the many who were award winners like the Hibernian of the year.  In March we had our annual Irish cultural festival.  We also had our St. Patrick’s Day mass where a representative from Div 36 AOH and LAOH were presented with the St. Patrick award. This award is given to one member of each organization by the St. Patrick’s Day parade committee and was presented by the Bishop.  We marched in the Worcester county St. Patrick’s day parade as we do proudly each year. In April, we had our annual communion breakfast and awards were given to Hibernians from the AOH and LAOH.  We marched from downtown Worcester at the Celtic cross to St. Johns church were our chaplain celebrated Mass.

It’s been a great journey this past year and we look forward to many more.  We have promoted and gathered in friendship, unity and Christian charity with honor, love and faith.  The next step for this year was the national convention in Cincinnati we sent a member of good standing to represent our faith in Hiberianisim and to report back to the division. Our hope to was to grow closer to our brothers and sisters throughout the country.  To conclude, we at Div 36 Worcester MA have been working hard to promote friendship and unity. There seems to be a renewed faith in the division and we are now ready to initiate a new group of candidates into out division and into our great organization. We hope to have continued success in his coming year, we have recently had our annual road race and John Barry dinner dance and Halloween party; we look forward to our shamrock and holly fare, annual AOH/LAOH celebration dinner dance and we especially look forward to celebrating with all of you the anniversary of 175 years of the AOH in America.

Division 8 AOH and the Irish Foundation Honor the late David R. Burke

By William J. Sullivan

The Rev. James T. O’Reilly Div 8 AOH of Lawrence, MA and the Irish Foundation of Lawrence honored the late David R. Burke with the dedication of a plaque in his memory at the An Gorta Mor Memorial in the Immaculate Conception Cemetery, Lawrence, on Sunday, November 7, 2010. Former Ambassador to the Vatican, Raymond Flynn, was the principal speaker. Ireland’s Consul General to Boston, Michael Lonergan, as well as other representatives of the Irish Government were in attendance.  AOH and LAOH National, State, County Officers, as well as Division Officers throughout Massachusetts attended. Public officials and civic leaders on the national, state and local levels as well as many other Irish organizations throughout the New England area were also present for the dedication. A reception followed at the Claddagh Pub and Restaurant in Lawrence.

David R. Burke was a member of Div 8 for more than 40 years and served as an officer in various capacities on the National, State and County Boards as well as on the Division level. An enthusiastic supporter of Irish history and culture, he was instrumental in organizing annual Irish Heritage Months in the City of Lawrence. He was the founder and President of the Irish Foundation of Lawrence, Inc., as well as the founder of the Irish Room and Hibernian Collection at the South Lawrence Branch Library, which houses one of the largest collections of Irish books, media, memorabilia and periodicals in the Northeast. Dave also chaired and led the campaign to build the An Gorta Mor Monument in Lawrence in 2006. He was the recipient of the Irish Echo’s Golden Bridges Award in 2007, as well as the recipient of the AOH National Board’s Sean MacBride Humanitarian Award in 2007.

Dave also served organizations beyond his Hibernian and Irish circles. An employee of the Lawrence Housing Authority, he was a board member of Lawrence’s International Institute, the Advisory Board of Lawrence Heritage State Park, the Immigrant City Archives, the Lawrence Cultural Alliance, the Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Public Library, as well as a host of other organizations. A lifelong resident, advocate and supporter of the City of Lawrence and Irish history and culture, he was a tireless worker whose work will live forever in the annual celebrations of Lawrence’s Irish Heritage Month, the Hibernian Collection, the AOH and the Irish Foundation.  After a long and courageous battle with cancer, David R. Burke died on May 27, 2009. He was survived by his wife, Patricia and a son, Kevin.

AOH Div 8, the Irish Foundation and the Irish American Community of Greater Lawrence built and dedicated a monument in May, 2006 as a tribute to the Irish of Greater Lawrence. The An Gorta Mor Memorial consists of two tablets, a shamrock tablet made out of Barre Granite, along with a Celtic Cross. The cornerstone from the original Hibernian Home on White Street in Lawrence built in 1887 is also part of the Memorial.  Four bronze tablets honor the three Past AOH and LAOH National Presidents from Lawrence: John E. Fenton, Joseph P. Kerrigan, Margaret M. Webb; as well as Division 8 LAOH Foundress, Katherine A. O’Keefe O’Mahoney. The Celtic Cross has the inscription of Ireland’s four Provinces and 32 Counties in English and Irish. A time capsule is included as part of the memorial where loved ones names have been placed in honor and respect.

On November 7, a bronze plaque was added to the An Gorta Mor Memorial to honor the memory and celebrate the life and accomplishments of David R. Burke, one of the most outstanding Hibernians in the history of Div 8 and one of the greatest Irish Americans of our lifetime.