Director’s Report

It is important for us a Hibernians to fight against those who defame our faith and our heritage. Not just around St. Patrick’s Day but all year round. We as Hibernians need to be vigilant and not support businesses that continue to ignore our request to not insult our Irish ethnicity. These businesses will listen when sales decline.

This past spring I had the honor to represent the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Waterford, Ireland. The 1848 Tricolour Celebration Committee was putting on their annual gathering to commemorate the unveiling of the Irish Tricolour by their native son Thomas Francis Meagher in 1848 in Waterford City, Ireland. The Committee invited me and my fellow AOH brothers Brian Schweitzer, Montana’s Governor, and Jim Hammill, past Division President of the Thomas Francis Meagher Division in Helena Montana.

Governor Schweitzer was the Guest of Honor and guest speaker during the event. I would like to thank the all of the committee members of the “1848 Tricolour Celebration” for putting on wonderful event and showing us the “Irish Hospitality”.  My hope is that we can return the favor soon.  It was good to see that past history is remembered and the Tricolour was not forgotten as a symbol of peace and its message still prevails today.

I’m looking forward to seeing all you at Turning Stone in July.

Directors Report

It has been 15 months since the Cincinnati Convention and most of us wonder where the time has gone, as do I. It is an honor and privilege to serve my Hibernian brothers as the Chairman of Anti Defamation and National Director for the West.

It has been 10 years since I was first elected as a National Director. In some ways there are the same issues today as then, but also things have changed in many ways. The way people communicate today is much different than 10 years ago. We have the print media, television with network programs, talk shows, the Internet and social media such as You Tube, Facebook and Twitter.

With information being received much more quickly, it requires the National Board as an organization to disseminate information more quickly as well. This includes responses to those who choose to defame our religion and our Irish heritage.

These slanders seem to persist more often in the month of March, but they do occur each and every month of the year. It is our duty to be vigilant and to notify people and establishments that we do not appreciate the degrading of our Catholic faith or Irish ethnicity.

These past several months I have had a great time meeting our Hibernian brothers and sisters throughout this country. It seemed that both Lois and I have been living out of suit cases, but we have loved every minute of our travels. I assisted in installing California’s state board officers at their convention and at Montana’s state convention installing their state board officers. Congratulations to Ken Jamieson, the newly elected State Board President of California, and Tom Pahut, who was reelected State Board President of Montana. I wish them the best in leading their respected states.

In August I traveled to Pueblo, Colorado. Pueblo has a bit of AOH history. In 1884 there were two AOH Divisions in that city and the cathedral today has a stained glass window sponsored by the AOH. My trip to Pueblo was to make formal presentations to Kayla Cata and Elizabeth Manguso, two young ladies from Pueblo who won the top award for the National History Day. If Elizabeth and Kayla are any indication of the caliber of youth today, then we have nothing to worry about in our future.

While in Colorado we also attended the Lady of Knock Mass and LAOH picnic in Denver. The LAOH of Denver sponsored it. Our brother and sister Hibernians in Denver are wonderful hosts.

October was the AOH National President’s Dinner in Philadelphia. A big thank you goes out to Co-Chairpersons Nancy Cullen and Ed Dougherty for all their hard work in putting on such a wonderful function. The tours of the AOH Halls were a special treat. It was great to see the pride each member had for the history of their hall.

The one concern I continue to have is the isolated AOH divisions and how do we as a National organization support these divisions and assure them they are as important to us as any other member of this organization.

Bob Golden, left, Bill Featherston, Bob and Rose Manguso, Elizabeth Manguso, Kayla Caty, Herman and Michele Cata, Mike O’Connor, Devon Cata at the history award presentation in Pueblo, Colorado.

National Director – West

It is the middle of August and I hope all have had a wonderful summer. These are definitely the “dog days” of summer. What better way to celebrate the dog days than with a good Irish festival and, of course, an AOH family picnic.

Our Division’s family picnic was just this week. It is great way for lady and men Hibernians to get together with their families. We had a great combination of the four B’s: Burgers, Brats, Beer and Blarney. The kids always have a great time finding the money in the hay. Using a bale of hay for a kid’s game is definitely a western cowboy idea (see photo).

Next week I have the honor of formally presenting two young ladies from Pueblo, Colorado, their National History Day AOH Award of two round-trip tickets to Ireland. In talking to National Historian Mike McCormack, these two ladies’ prestigious award came up in our conversation. I agreed to travel to Pueblo to present them their award. I think it’s the least we can do for their efforts. Now, Montana to Pueblo, Colorado, is about 900 miles. But here in the west we just call it a “road trip.”

This is the season for State Conventions. September will be a busy month as the Montana and the California State Conventions are scheduled.

I want to remind us all to be vigilant and continue to fight against those who defame or insult our Irish ethnicity and that we will not support businesses that insult us. Let me know how I can help.

 

Director’s Report

Members of the Anaconda AOH with Brother Frank Crowley (with sword) portraying former Montana Governor Thomas Francis Meagher.

A momentous occasion occurred for Hibernians in Montana in June: We celebrated our Irish heritage in the town that Thomas Francis Meagher called home while in Montana, Virginia City. The town of Virginia City celebrated its second annual “Irish Weekend”.  If you have never been to Virginia City it is an active ghost town and a step back in time.  It was the first territorial capital of the Montana Territory in 1865. It looks today as it did in the 1860’s when Thomas Meagher was walking the streets.

The “Irish Weekend” is collaboration by the Montana Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Virginia City Chamber of Commerce and the businesses and people of Virginia City.  The goal of the Montana AOH on this occasion was to put into action the AOH National Constitution’s Preamble stating that the purpose of our organization is to foster ideas and perpetuate the history and traditions of the Irish and to promote our Irish culture.  Due to the great success of this project our goal was achieved.  Thanks to a core group of AOH members with the leadership of Joe Calnan of the Helena AOH.

Painting a green stripe down the main street of Virginia City kicked off the weekend in style.  It was followed up by a panel discussion of “things Irish”.  AOH members facilitating the discussion of such as the origin of the Irish flag, the song Danny Boy, Irish rebellions, why the Irish left Ireland, where they went and why, how they came to Montana, Irish in the Civil War, Confederate & Union army influences.  Our Irish cultural presentations included an Irish storyteller & Irish folktales along with a discussion of the “The Gathering” a collected oral histories of the Irish in Montana which seeks to record and to archive the Montana Irish and Irish-American folk histories, memories, practices and traditions.

Thomas Francis Meagher even decided to show up for the festivities. Meagher was portrayed by our AOH member and re-enactor Frank Crowley. Meagher raised the Irish Tricolor on the Madison County Courthouse steps.  Later on he even dedicated the replica of Governor Meagher’s State Office on the main street of Virginia City.

An Irish Weekend in Montana would not be complete without a parade with the Anaconda AOH Pipe & Drum Band and the Anaconda Washer Women Brigade. Celtic music entertained the people of Virginia City until the wee hours of the night.  All in all the people of Virginia City now know more about the proud history and traditions of the Irish that had a major influence in the development of Montana and this country.

 

Director’s Report

Ann Cusack & Elaine Sarah Comerford of the 1848 Tricolour Committee of Waterford

My hope is that all my Hibernian brothers and sisters had a wonderful Easter with family and friends.  During Easter week you can’t help but think of the history of Ireland just a short 95 years ago and the 1916 Easter Rising and our leaders who were executed at Kilmainham Prison. Let us not forget all our Irish patriots who gave their lives for Irish freedom. “Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.”

Another Irish Patriot that had considerable influence in Ireland and the United States is Thomas Francis Meagher. April of this year kicks of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. As we commemorate the events that happened during the Civil War let us not forget about the influence the Irish had on both the North and South. The Irish Brigade under the command of Thomas Meagher fought heroically at the bloodiest battles of the war such as: Fair Oaks, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville.

This past month the AOH division in Helena, Montana was able to be a part of a celebration in Waterford, Ireland which involved our divisions name sake, Thomas Francis Meagher. As many of you know the Thomas Meagher was the first to fly the Irish Tricolour in Ireland in 1848.  On March 5th of this year Waterford had a grand celebration in honor of the Tricolor (www.1848tricolourcelebration.com).  Although Montana is thousands of miles from Waterford, the Helena AOH recognized the Waterford “1848 Tricolour Celebration” by raising the tricolor on Montana’s state capitol the same day as their celebration. This flag was presented to the “1848 Tricolour Celebration” Committee along with a proclamation from Montana’s Governor.

The Tricolour was not forgotten as a symbol of union and its message still prevails today.  The Tricolour was also used in the Easter Uprising and raised above the GPO in 1916.  Again it’s good to see that we remember our past history.

In closing, I want to remind us all to be vigilant and continue to fight against those who defame our church and our heritage. Let me know how I can help.

Director’s Report

The calendar says we are heading into spring but the weather here in Montana is still reminding us it is winter.  This is such a great time of the year for all Hibernians.  As we plan for all the festivities we might need to have our cross country skis ready for our St Patrick’s Day Parade this year. It won’t be the first time. One of great traditions we look forward to in Montana is to have our Governor raise the Irish Tricolor on the capital on St. Patrick’s Day. The Governor also proclaims March 17th as “Irish Heritage Day”.  The publishing of this Digest will be after St. Patrick’s Day so I do hope all of you had a glorious time celebrating the feast day of St. Patrick.

I take this opportunity to encourage all to continue the fight against those who chose to defame our religion and our Irish heritage. These slanders seem to persist more often in the month of March. It is our duty to be vigilant and to notify people and establishments that we do not appreciate the degrading of our Catholic faith or Irish ethnicity.

I had the honor to swear into office Montana officers for the Butte, Anaconda, and Helena Divisions. I wish the respective divisions the best and the officers a successful term of office.  These brothers are the core of this organization and the glue that keeps us together and focused.

As spring comes I hope to travel to some of the divisions in the west. I look forward to visiting with my fellow brothers.

Director’s Report

As we enter the most wonderful part of the year to celebrate our Irish heritage, let us not forget that not all people have the same enthusiasm as we do.  We must continually be vigilant to fight against those who defame our heritage.  U.S. Presidents have proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month throughout this country since 1991. For as long as March has been declared Irish-American Heritage Month, we have been battling those who choose to ridicule or stereotype the Irish people. As AOH members it is our duty to let these people and companies know it’s simply not acceptable to misrepresent the Irish. They wouldn’t think of it for any other nationality and they shouldn’t for the Irish.

Do you want to learn about the Irish in the West?  Author David Emmons new book is Beyond the American Pale – The Irish in the West 1845-1910.  The Irish were not supposed to be in the west and yet they were an integral part of America’s westward expansion.  It was the prospect of a job mainly in the railroad and mining industries that brought them west.

As Emmons says the Irish called them “two-boat Irish.”  They initially landed in a seaport city and their second vessel either wagons or railroads took them West. My grandparents were “two-boat Irish”. My grandmother, Julia O’Neill left her home in West Cork Ireland in 1898 as a young lady with $15 to her name.  Her first site of the United Sates was the Statue of Liberty as she came through Ellis Island.  Her second vessel, the railroad, took her westward to her final destination of Butte, Montana. The men knew if you got to Butte you had a job.  Marcus Daly, one of the copper kings and from County Cavan would hire you to work in is mine.  That is why in 1900 Butte had the highest concentration of Irish than any other American city.  Of Butte’s population, 26% were either Irish-born or children of Irish-born.

That is why the AOH was so strong in Montana in 1900 and why it remains that way to this day. The synergy of the AOH Divisions in both Montana and California is apparent because of their strength.  That cannot be said of the all the West.  We have unique situation with AOH Divisions in Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Oregon, and Arizona. They are isolated from Divisions in other states. For example Portland’s closest AOH Division is in Montana and that is 660 miles away. This does not make these Divisions any less important to this organization.  As a national organization we must support all our Divisions across this great country.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my Hibernian brothers and sisters a Happy St. Patrick’s day.

Anti-Defamation

The Cincinnati convention is over and congratulations to Jim Magee and Judy Leddy National Co-Chairs of the 95th National Convention and to the entire delegation from Ohio for a marvelous convention. I would like to thank all my fellow Hibernian brothers for their support of my candidacy as National Director. It will be an honor and privilege to serve you for the next two years in that office. Throughout this country, from East to West and North to South we truly belong to a great organization. In Montana we will soon celebrate a milestone.  Our Anaconda Division No 1 will be celebrating their 125th anniversary of continual service.  We invited all Hibernians to the commemoration on September 10th through the 12th so we can show you our Montana hospitality.  For more information check out Anaconda’s web site: http://www.anacondaaoh.com/.  These next two years will be exciting times for our National and local organizations. The Anaconda Division has set a good example by having its members working together as a team for a century and a quarter.  I firmly believe we can accomplish just about anything if we have a “can-do” attitude and work together. I am committed to serving you as a National Director.  Let me know how I can help.  My email is mikeoconnor@hibernian.org and my phone number is 406-461-2209.

Director’s Report – Mike O’Connor

The Cincinnati convention is over and congratulations to Jim Magee and Judy Leddy, National Co-Chairs of the 95th National Convention and to the entire delegation from Ohio for a marvelous convention.

I would like to thank all my fellow Hibernian brothers for their support of my candidacy as National Director. It will be an honor and privilege to serve you for the next two years in that office. Throughout this country, from east to west and north to south we truly belong to a great organization.

In Montana we will soon celebrate a milestone.  Our Anaconda Div 1 will be celebrating their 125th anniversary of continual service.  We would like to invite all Hibernians to the commemoration on September 10th through the 12th so we can show you our Montana hospitality.  For more information check out Anaconda’s web site: http://www.anacondaaoh.com/

These next two years will be exciting times for our National and local organizations. The Anaconda Division has set a good example by having its members working together as a team for a century and a quarter.  I firmly believe we can accomplish just about anything if we have a “can-do” attitude and work together. I am committed to serving you as a National Director.  Let me know how I can help.  My email is mikeoconnor@hibernian.org and my phone number is 406-461-2209.