Tomhas na Teanga – Jim Norton

Éisteann an saol iomlán le ceol Meiriceánach.  The whole world listens to American music.  Tosaíodh stíleanna ceoil go leor sna Stáit.  Lots of musical styles were started in the States.  Agus tharla sin mar gheall ar an meascán de cheol is daoine ó thíortha agus ó chultúir an-éagsúla.  And that happened because of the mix of music and people from very different countries and cultures.

Bhíodh ceol na dtíortha áirithe á dhéanamh sna Stáit le fada an lá.  The music of various countries was played in the States for a long time.  Ach i ndiaidh an chogaidh chathartha go háirithe, rinneadh ceol an-difriúil agus nua.   But especially after the Civil War, very different and new music was made.  Jazz a thugtar air ar ball.  It was eventually called jazz.  Ceaptar gur cumadh jazz in New Orleans den chéad uair.  People think that jazz was created in NO originally.  Ach níorbh é NO an t-aon áit a raibh a leithéid ann, ná baol air.  But that wasn’t the only place such a thing was, by any means.  Thuas agus thíos an Mississippi go háirithe a bhí aithne ag na daoine ar na nósanna nua seo.   Up and down the M. especially people knew these new styles.  Agus pé áit a raibh a bhunadh, bhí sé ar fud na tíre faoi cheann achair bhig.  And wherever it was from, it was all over the country within a short period of time.

Tá sé an-chonspóideach cad í foinse an fhocail féin, jazz.  It is very controversial what the source of the word jazz is.  Tá teoiric ann gur as an nGaeilge é.  There is a theory that it is from the Irish.  Deir ollamh i San Francisco darb ainm Daniel Cassidy gur as an bhfocal ‘teas’ é, agus gurb é iriseoir de shliocht na hÉireann darb ainm Scoop Gleeson a bhain úsáid as den chéad uair, i nuachtán i San Francisco.  A professor in SF named…says that it is from the word [heat], and that a reporter with Irish roots named… used it for the first time, in a SF newspaper.  Is iomaí Éireannach a chuir faoi ansin san aois sin.  It’s many an Irishman who settled there in that age.  Bhíodh a lán Gaeilgeoirí ann, gan dabht.  There used to be a lot of Irish speakers there, no doubt.   D’fhaigheadh An Gaodhal (An Gael) ábhar ó SF go minic.  An Gael used to get material from SF often.  Agus bhí a lán ceoltóirí Éireannacha bainteach le buntús an cheoil nua seo.   And there were a lot of Irish musicians involved in the origin of this new music.   Mar sin, luíonn sé le ciall gur thug Gaeilgeoir an t-ainm air.  So, it stands to reason that an Irish speaker gave the name to it.  Ceapaim féin gurb fhéidir go raibh an focal ‘deas’ i gceist, go háirithe mar gheall ar theoiricí eile faoina fhoinse.  i myself think it may have been the word [nice], especially because of  other theories about its source.  Ní an sanasaíocht de cinnte, pé scéal, agus is maith an scéal é gur linne an focal jazz!  The etymology is not certain, anyway, and it’s a good story that the word is ours!

Tá baint nach beag ag Éire le déanamh an bhanna ceoil jazz (tugtar snagcheol air as Gaeilge).  Ireland had no small part in the creation of the jazz band (in Irish, jazz is called…).  Meascán de cheol Afracach, Éireannach, Spáinneach, srl. atá ann.  It’s a mix of African, Irish, Spanish, etc. music.   Ach de réir dealraimh, is ó bhanna máirseála áirithe a tháinig an meascán de huirlisí phráis agus gaothuirlisí mar an sacsafón.  But apparently, it is from a particular marching band that came the mixing of brass instruments with woodwinds like the saxophone.   Agus an duine a rinne sin don chéad uair?  And the person who did that the first time?  Éireannach darb ainm Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore.  An Irishman by the name of…  Rugadh é i mBéal Átha Ghartha, Co. na Gaillimhe, in 1829.  He was born in Ballygar, Gallway, in…  D’fhoghlaim sé a cheird i mBaile Átha Luain ó Patrick Keating, ceannródaí eile na mbannaí máirseála.  He learned his craft from another marching band pioneer…in Athlone.   Chuir Gilmore faoi i mBoston in 1848.  G settled in Boston in 1848.  Bheadh sé i measc na ndaoine ba cháiliúla san aois sin, agus b’fhéidir an ceoltóir ba cháiliúla i Meiriceá.  He would be among the most famous people of that age, and maybe the most famous musician in America.

Bhí banna ceoil míleata aige san arm a raibh cáil agus clú air, agus mar gheall air sin, rinneadh ard-bhannamháistir de, i mbun cheol an airm ar fad.  He had a military band in the army which was very well known, and because of that, he was made bandmaster general for the entire army.  i ndiaidh an chogaidh, bhí ceolchoirm aige in New Orleans leis an mbanna ba mhó riamh.  After the war, he had a concert in NO with the biggest band ever.  Bhíodh ceolchoirmeacha aige i Nua-Eabhrac, ag áit dá chuid féin, Gilmore’s Concert Garden, agus ar ball, rinneadh an chéad Madison Square Garden de.  He used to have concerts in NY, at a place of his own…, and eventually, it became the first MSG.  Thosaigh seisean an nós chun Oíche Chinn Bliana a cheiliúradh in Times Square.  It was he who started the tradition of celebrating New Year’s Eve in…  i rith an chogaidh, chum sé an t-amhrán “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” (ón amhrán Éireannach “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye”).  During the war, he wrote the song…(from the Irish song…).   Bhí sé agus a bhanna ceoil ar roinnt de na chéad taifeadtaí a rinne Edison.  He and his band were on some of Edison’s first recordings.

Nach ait an rud é nach luaitear ach go hannamh duine chomh cáiliúil sin níos mó?  Isn’t it strange that a person so famous is rarely mentioned any more?

Mar a tharla, ba é “Papa” Jack Laine, Gael-Mheiriceánach (sílim) i New Orleans a bhí an-tábhachtach ag an tús, agus b’eisean an chéad duine chun druma mór agus sreangdhruma a chur le chéile do sheinnteoir amháin. As it happened, an Irish-American (I think)…was very important at the beginning in NO, and he was the first person to put the bass and snare drum together for one player.  Fuair sé a chéad dhruma ó mhac Patrick Gilmore!  He got is first drum from PG’s son!



Veterans Affairs – JJ Kelly

Are you a “veteran”? You may be surprised to find out that according to US law, you might not be – at least for now. There are more than 200,000 National Guard and Reserve retirees denied that status under current law because their military careers of monthly drills and annual training did not include at least 180 days on active duty under so-called Title 10 orders. These men and women may draw retired pay, use TRICARE and shop at the local Post Exchange and commissary. But the laws do not consider them as veterans. That hopefully is about to change. Congress is moving forward this year to expand the definition of veteran to include Guard and Reserve members who served at least 20 years – enough to earn retirement benefits at age 60, even if never called to active duty. Most affected retirees served in the Cold War era, when it was not unusual to complete Guard and Reserve careers without going on active duty. This is unlikely today, given how Reserve Component forces have been deployed for wartime operations since 9/11. However, currently denied the honor of veteran status are many retired Guard members who served under other types of orders at Ground Zero on 9/11, after Hurricane Katrina, and the BP oil spill. Those affected point out that they aren’t seeking more benefits. They only want to be recognized as veterans under the law. They soon could be.

One organization who does not feel bound by the government’s definition of “veteran” is USAA – United Services Automobile Association. If you have paid any attention to their many commercials on TV of late, you know how they are eagerly recruiting “members” – veterans, spouses of military, children of military. One aspect of USAA’s activities involves their efforts in helping veterans make the transition from military to civilian life. It is estimated that between 2011 and 2016, about one million service members will separate from the military and make the transition to civilian life. Finding the right job is always difficult. Today’s economy makes it even more daunting. USAA, along with other companies, is offering advice and tools designed to ease the transition, as well as making veteran hiring a priority. This is not meant as an endorsement of USAA – rather a place to guide veterans and those leaving the military to go see what is out there.

Two final notes: The Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS) will hold their annual benefit on Thursday, November 7th, at The Army – Navy Country Club in Arlington, VA. Go to for details — how to contribute. With such a wonderful mission, the AMS needs all the help they can get. Also, keep an eye out for the first ever USA Today Special Edition “Veterans Affairs: Saluting Our Troops” Commemorative Publication due out on Veterans Day, November 11th.

Finally, please remember to thank a vet or an active duty Soldier, Marine, Sailor, Airman or Coast Guardsman. They are a constant reminder that our cherished freedom is not free.



J J Kelly

Irish Way Bill Sullivan

AOH National President Brendan Moore and the AOH National Board are pleased to announce that Kieran McGirl, a member of Division 19 in Kings County, New York, has been selected as one of the recipients of their 2013 National Board Study Abroad Scholarships. Kieran’s father, Kevin McGirl, and his grandfather, Al O’Hagan, are also members of Division 19.

Kieran, a student at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, is majoring in Communications, with a minor in political science. This past semester, Kieran studied at Sacred Heart University Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland.  Upon graduation from Sacred Heart University in May 2015, Kieran plans a career in communications and Media.

Our sincere thanks is extended to Ned McGinley and to the Hibernian Charity Board for providing the funding for the 2013 Irish Way and the 2013 Study Abroad Scholarships. Several additional Study Abroad Scholarship recipients are expected to be named in the next several months.

Information on the 2014 AOH National Board’s Study Abroad Scholarships and the 2014 AOH and LAOH Irish Way Scholarships will be available in the November-December issue of the Hibernian Digest. The National Boards strongly encourage all their members to take advantage of these scholarship opportunities. I hope that you had a great summer. Yours in Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity…



Deputy Chaplain

Homily delivered at the AOH Pennsylvania State Convention Closing Mass 2013 by Father Tom O’Donnell, AOH Deputy National Chaplain

In today’s Gospel we meet two great friends of Jesus, Martha and Mary.  In this story we see two different definitions of hospitality. For Martha hospitality demands service, while Mary defines hospitality as being present to one another.  Martha is being busy in the kitchen making dinner while Mary is sitting with Jesus listening to his words.  However, it is possible to be like Mary and focus on the Word of God and also like Martha be focused on the task at hand.


The Gospel story of Martha and Mary is similar to the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis tells us to preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use actions and words”. Francis proclaimed a message we should all take to heart. It transforms our religious beliefs into a spiritual life of action which demands that we act with a compassionate heart. Compassion brings us in touch with one another and calls us to step out in faith. Compassion takes the knowledge of our faith and enables us to live that faith in service to one another.


As Catholics and as Brothers and Sisters of the Ancient Order of Hibernians our profession of faith calls us to be Followers of Jesus. Whether we do this in the manner of Martha or Mary as followers of Jesus Christ, we are encouraged by God to step out of our comfort zone and to embrace the Christ we are called to see in others. We are called to respect all life. We are challenged to act on our beliefs. That is our mission in life. We need to think less of the “I” and more of the “We”. Much is already going on in our order that exemplifies that direction.   AOH Brothers and Sisters donate thousands of dollars and thousands of hours in works of charity. We must also be involved in the issues of peace and justice. For far too long the British have unjustly occupied the six counties of Northern Ireland and as long as one county, one town, one family one man, woman, or child is not free, all Ireland is in chains. We must continue to fight for “One Nation, One Island, One United Ireland.”


As we all get to know Pope Francis, one of the things that is becoming abundantly clear is that his underlying motivation is to emulate the example and teachings of Jesus: simplicity, justice, humility, compassion and love.   While it is hard to imagine us giving up ALL of our material comforts, we are challenged to follow the example of Pope Francis, who is focusing less on the material goods of his Papacy, but on the opportunity to use his position to encourage us to reach out to those in need.


When Pope Francis was introduced as our new Holy Father on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, he said: “Let us begin this journey together united as bishop and people. This journey is a journey of fraternity, of charity and love between us. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the world, so that a great fraternity and brotherhood may be created.”   These words of Pope Francis are a clear call to the virtues of Unity, Fraternity and Christian Charity which are the fundamental principles of our Order as Brothers and Sisters of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.


How inspiring for us to have those principles highlighted by Pope Francis call for unity, charity, love, trust and fraternity and how clearly his words highlight the timeless relevance of our Order established one hundred and seventy seven years ago.


Even the new Pope’s choice of the name – Francis – evokes not just St. Francis of Assisi’s charity but also the words our Lord spoke of that humble saint: “Rebuild my Church.”  It is a stirring reminder of the need to continue the work of new evangelization of rebuilding the Church through prayer of Mary and living out our faith through the charity of Martha.


St. Francis’ witness like that of our new Holy Father was a daily witness of love of God and our neighbor. Our principles of Unity, Fraternity and Christian Charity are just words if we do not live them out in our daily life.


Let us pray for our Holy Father as he requested on the evening of his election, and let us work even harder for those who need the most help in our society. Let us invite the men and women of our divisions to become even more active in the service of our neighbors. In short let us take the call of Pope Francis to heart and live our charity to our neighbor in unity with the Church and our Holy Father, and in the spirit of fraternity with one and all.


The story of Martha and Mary and St. Francis of Assisi teach us that in order of focus on our service of one another, we must focus on God. Once we know and love our Savior, then our service for one another rises up from our heart within us. We are all called to serve in Unity, Fraternity and Christian Charity, and we can do this once we have truly met with Jesus and focused on Him.


National Secretary Thomas McNabb and Treasurer Dan O’Connell

Our articles over the last year have been designed to provide information on the various processes Secretaries and Treasurers follow in order to keep you division up to date. We have seen improvement in how forms are completed as well as divisions meeting deadlines. As we all know, there is always room for improvement. That being said, we will continue to cover our procedures on a regular basis.

Is your membership information correct on you travel card? Please take your travel card out today and review your information. If any information on your card is incorrect, get the corrections to your division Financial Secretary immediately.  Each Financial Secretary will receive a print out of your entire division membership during the month of September. We will ask him to make all necessary changes and return the print out. These changes will be made prior to printing out your 2014 membership card. This procedure has been in place for several years however many divisions do not take advantage of it. Please take the time to discuss this at your meetings and be sure your Financial Secretary sends all corrections in.

If you made your major degrees and they are not marked on your card (or the list we send to your Financial Secretary) please contact the degree team.  The secretary of the degree team is the only one who can verify your degrees and have it added to your card. Normally this is sent in to the national office within ten days of the degrees.

Electronic Backup. We recently spent several days working together in the National Office to implement improved backup procedures for all our current forms and documents. We have moved to a system that keeps our current files on hand in the office and on disc in each of our homes. It is good to keep a backup of your division information in another location as well. Although we pray no one goes through a Katrina or Sandy type of disaster again it makes everyone realize how important off site backup for your documents is. On a side note, it is probably a good idea to have your personal documents backed up and stored somewhere outside you home. With our new system, each current Form 9 and Form 11 will be backed up electronically when it is received.

Per Capita. Although the majority of the 2012 per capita came in by February there were too many divisions paying late again this year.  Please remind your officers that if your Per Capita isn’t paid on time to both  national and state your division is not in good standing. In turn, your personal membership is not in good standing. This issue will prevent you from participation in County, State and National conventions as well. We have seen members upset at several conventions when they realized they could not vote. Although we understand brothers upset when they can’t vote at a convention they must understand it is your divisions responsibility to pay your per capita on time. It is not the responsibility of the convention credential committee, the state secretary or the national secretary to pay your division per capita. It is the responsibility of the division financial secretary to send division per capita in each year by February 15.  Remember, it’s the previous year per capita that is being paid. (2012 dues collected by divisions = per capita paid to national and state between January 1 and February 15, 2013)

As the convention season winds down, we hope you took advantage of the many quality programs put on by states around the country. It has been especially rewarding to observe the many major degrees ceremonies. If you did not have an opportunity to make your major degrees yet we remind you that the 2014 convention in St. Louis will provide a great opportunity to do so.

Thank you to the State Secretaries and Treasures who covered AOH forms, policies and procedures during their state conventions. The opportunity for membership education on the forms, polies and procedures of the order should be seized whenever available. As always, questions from Secretaries and Treasurers can be directed to AOH National Secretary Tom McNabb or AOH National Treasurer Danny O’Connell respectively. Thank you,


Over the past few years, many hours of conference calls, meetings, and email and phone communications have been employed by the AOH towards our current effort for immigration reform. We’ve listened and considered the often valid and thought provoking, and as often polarizing and scathing critiques and opposition of the current Immigration Bill from Hibernians and others. Let me be clear, the current Congressional Immigration legislation is not perfect, no Bill is. It is not our responsibility to draft federal legislation. Our responsibility is to our Irish immigrants, whether undocumented or our future Irish immigrants, to assure safe and legal paths. Were we to stand idly by while other interest groups succeed in passing legislation; Based on past practice, we would not get another chance for AT LEAST 20 YEARS! Therefore, this organization and its members cannot and will not sit on the sidelines on CIR. Should it fail; we will dust ourselves off and get back on the horse. Tenacity is one of our greatest attributes as Hibernians and we will continue until we succeed.

On a July 11th visit to Washington DC, I met with 12 members of the House, particularly GOP representatives, to support Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).  I can report that these visits were well received by all and the legislators and staff shared their issues with the current Senate Bill, S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.  That evening at the Embassy of Ireland, along with representatives of ILIR and Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform, I met Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Eamon Gilmore, Irish Ambassador Michael Collins and Foreign Affairs Director General Niall Burgess to compare our observations on the current Irish American efforts and the viability of CIR. It was acknowledged that the AOH is uniquely positioned as the only organization with members in many of the Congressional Districts needed to pass this legislation. We left that meeting confident that we are closer today than we have been in nearly 50 years to real reform that includes Homeland Security and border improvements, an end to the plight of the Irish undocumented and a real quota of new legal visas for Irish immigrants. The hard work has just begun. The AOH is once again leading the way on immigration reform and we have a lot to do.

Hibernians, particularly those in GOP led Districts, are encouraged to let your US Representative know that as an Irish American and a Hibernian that you feel Comprehensive Immigration Reform is good for the Nation and you would like the Representative to support it as well. During the summer recess, your Congressman will attend many events in your District. If you have an opportunity, please speak to the legislator. Consider making an appointment to visit the legislator’s district office. If not, please get on the phone; write an email or letter to your Congressional House Representative. If the Representative is not available ask for the legislative or immigration aide. Also, we need to keep a running tab on legislators that are onboard and those that might need a gentle nudge towards support. Please contact me with results of your efforts good bad or indifferent. Communication within our organization is a key to our success and you can play a major role in improving those lines of communication.

(Included in this Digest is a letter from National President Brendan Moore. Please email me at  and I will send you a personalized digital copy of that letter for your Congressman that you may send along with your own letter or message to the representative.)


Here are some of the benefits to Irish America included in the passed Senate Bill, S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act:

Path to Citizenship for Undocumented: The bill puts 50,000 Irish undocumented on a 13 year long path to citizenship accompanied by a system of fines, taxes and criminal background checks. The PRI’s, as the undocumented will then be known, will be required to become ‘vested’ in Social Security, PAY FOR THEIR OWN HEALTH CARE AND OTHER BENEFITS for a nearly decade-long  period. Only after 9 years of gainful employment and tax payment, the PRI’s are Green card eligible and only then may they avail of the benefits available to every US legal naturalized resident. Providing that certain security measures are satisfied, 180 days after the legislation is signed, the PRI’s will be allowed to live, work, and travel home to Ireland freely throughout the period of adjustment. This would bring great relief to their family members back in Ireland, many who haven’t seen loved ones in decades.

Future Flow: the Schumer Visa (AKA Irish E3 Visa) is 10,500 annual and renewable 3 year visas for Irish citizens, and their families, to live and work in the US. This will create much needed future flow for Ireland AND IS THE LARGEST ALLOTMENT OF VISAS FOR THE IRISH SINCE 1965. The Schumer Visas name was selected by the Senators colleagues as a tribute to his championing Irish Visa issues, especially during the critical Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Provisions in legislation would lead to an oath to green cards for these workers.

Work, Education and Language Requirements: There are many changes and new avenues in Comprehensive Immigration Reform that can provide for a greater number of Irish people, North and South, to apply for visas due to the English language, education and other requirements included. Irish students educated at our Universities would be given a long sought after opportunity; to stay in the US upon completing their education, instead of being forced to go home, as is the current practice.

In closing, as part of my responsibilities as Immigration Chair, I often field 10 to 15 calls and emails a week from AOH members with a variety of immigration issues (N. Ireland related, deportations, incarcerations, marriage related, adjustments of status, lawyer referrals, criminal issues, migration/ emigration/ holiday travel, J1 Visas, etc.) This work cannot be done without the support of members across the Order and the network of Irish immigrant advocates, lobbyists and attorneys that we have developed over the years. We also rely on the Irish Consulates and Irish Immigration Centers and they on the AOH. In Superstorm Sandy’s recovery we all came together for a common cause. Now we are asked to come together to, once and for all, address the need for Comprehensive Immigration reform. Please continue to support our Irish Immigration Centers; we will need them when our work on the Bill is done. I wish you and your loved ones, a safe and healthy summer.

Respectfully submitted,

Dan Dennehy

Report of the National Legal Counsel

State Conventions are now occurring across the Country. As part of these Conventions, many States are adopting new by-laws or revising old by-laws. Article XX, Section 1 of the National Constitution provides that each State, County and/or Division Board may adopt by-laws to govern the transaction of business, as may be necessary. Each jurisdiction, adopting and/or revising their by-laws is required to submit those by-laws to the next higher jurisdiction for certification that no conflicts exists with the by-laws of the next higher level. Each jurisdiction reviewing by-laws is required to submit those by-laws to the next higher level, until the National President has reviewed those by-laws. For example, if a division adopts a set of by-laws, the division is required to submit the by-laws to the county board. After certification that no conflict exists with the County Board’s by-laws, the County Board is required to submit those by-laws to the State Board, after certification that no conflict exists with the State Board by-laws, the State Board is required to submit those by-laws to the National Board. Pursuant to the National Constitution, by-laws are not effective until they have been approved by the National President. To begin the process of National Board review, all by-laws adopted and/or revised should be submitted to the National Legal Counsel’s Office at 39797 Village Woode Lane, Novi, Michigan 48375. They will then be submitted to National President Brendan Moore for approval and/or rejection.

The Constitutional Committee has received a number of proposed resolutions which update and/or modify the National Constitution. In late October, the Constitutional Committee will be meeting to finalize its review and report of the proposed updates. Any member who is interested in reviewing the proposed resolutions may do so by visiting the National Website at Access the site is restricted by a username and password. Drop me an email at, with your Name, State, Division and Membership number and I will forward the username and password to you. All members of the Order are entitled to review of the proposed resolutions.

FFAI Sean Pender

I hope that all have enjoyed the summer months; it has certainly been a hot one. I would first like to mention that due to a transposition error on my part I failed to list the AOH and LAOH Division 22 of Philadelphia as contributors of a $1,000 donation to the most recent Christmas Appeal. My sincere apology for the error and sincere thanks to the members of the LAOH and AOH for their tremendous donation.

In late May, a fine Irish Catholic gentleman, Harold “Bud” Thompson, passed away at 88 years young. I had the absolute honor of being on several trips to Ireland with Bud and his son, Chris, attending Bloody Sunday marches, and our most recent trip in March and April of this year. On our last trip Bud was an integral part of our delegation, he attended all of our events in Belfast and Derry. Bud and Chris coordinated a visit to meet the Ballymurphy Massacre families; Bud held court at the Kinturk Tyrone AOH hall with the children who entertained us, he proudly led the Belfast Easter commemoration march up the Falls Road to Milltown Cemetery in a black taxi, he asked questions regarding the PSNI at our Good Friday presentation and, in a moment I’ll always remember, Bud gave us two songs at the Derry AOH Hall. At 88 years old he was as sharp as a tack and an absolute joy to be with. After our visit to Milltown Cemetery where we attended the Easter Commemoration and stood by in the very bitter cold listening to speeches we couldn’t wait to get back to the bus for some much needed warmth. Bud got on the bus after getting out of the black cab and as we were defrosting he said dryly, “I’m glad to be back in the bus, it was getting warm in that cab.” Before Bud and Chris left for home I made it a point to take a Fathers and Sons picture of them with myself and my son, Tadhg. It is my sincere hope that some day I will have the same loving relationship in my latter years with Tadhg that Bud and Chris have.

To Bud, well done good and faithful servant, you will be missed but never forgotten; To Chris, your love and devotion to your Dad is an example that we can all learn from.


Shortly after you receive this edition of the Hibernian Digest the yearly Freedom for All Ireland Christmas Appeal packets will be mailed to all divisions and boards. This year, instead of me writing of the importance of the Christmas Appeal and the continued need for support, I have asked members who have traveled to Ireland and met the groups on our trips to tell you instead. It is my intention to include more contributions in upcoming Digest issues from members and groups in the hope that this information will confirm the need for our Appeal and answer any questions members may have regarding it. As always, I am available to answer any questions regarding the appeal just drop me an email at



Jere Cole National Director

            As you know I have been on this trip for many years. We have met many people and listened to many stories about the struggle in the North.

For me I can say it has been Educational, Informative & Rewarding it has offered a unique perspective on life in the North during that time. You cannot explain the feeling you receive from the people you talk to about what was going on. We must continue this trip to let our “IRISH” brother & sister we still care about their hope & dreams. 



Dan Dennehy National Immigration Chairman:

            I have been a participant in the past 3 FFAI tours.
Three years ago we marched with the jubilant Bloody Sunday families and listened to the families of Ballymurphy, Coalisland and many others involved with Relative’s for Justice, felt the warm gratitude of the wonderful youths of the Omagh Choir and Basketball Team, visited Iveagh House for the first time and met the young mayor of Belfast, Niall O’D. Two years ago we visited the stunning beauty of the Giants Causeway, DownPatrick and Armagh, met the wonderful people of Crossmaglen and South Armagh and participated in a pivotal Unite Ireland Conference.
This Easter Week we met the beautiful people of the Short Strand, Belfast, Derry, Tyrone and Dublin, joined in numerous Easter Commemorations’, hosted a 15th Anniversary Good Friday Agreement Conference, and were given unbelievable access to Iveagh House, Glasnevin Cemetery, and Padraig Pearse birthplace by legendary historians, (Shane McThomais and Ruan O’Donnell) dignitaries (Niall Burgess and Joe Byrne), artists (Robert Ballagh) and writers (Tim Pat Coogan).

These trips are important because they are productive, informative and fun. Chairman Pender surpasses himself each year as the trips become more connected, involved and well received by the legislators, activists and ordinary people of the cities and communities that we visit. Great friendships between Hibernians from across the US are forged each year on these trips and last long after the FFAI tours.





Christopher Thompson, ESQ Long Island New York:

Bobby Sands said it best – “Our revenge will be in the laughter of our children.”  I started to travel to Northern Ireland when I was in the 10th grade.  That was over 34 years ago.  I have watched the Christmas Appeal grow into a beacon of peace allowing organizations that receive little, if any, financial support from the government to reach across religious barriers once thought unbreakable – changing the minds of the youth of Ireland even if one mind at a time.  Perhaps, that is the laughter Bobby Sands spoke of.

Also, I told you how I came about sending a $1,000 donation by not drinking coffee.  This year, my dad raised $3,150.00 from his grave simply by asking for donations instead of flowers.  People should know this is an option – especially those of us who visit and support the work FFAI does.
Thank you for your hard work Sean it’s greatly appreciated and sorely needed.



Stephen M. Dick Jr.

Albany County Treasurer

            There is NO substitute for the experience I had going on the FFAI Tour last year.  The opportunity to meet the people that lived the history can never be replaced by history books, movies, or the like.  To have had the chance to speak to past prisoners, to see historical memorabilia from the troubles in person, and listen to the stories of the families still seeking justice was more profound than I had even imagined.  I look forward to getting another chance to return in 2014.





 Kathleen Savage LAOH Massachusetts

I don’t think it should make any difference that it’s 15 years after the GFA to continue funding most of the charities that the AOH has supported.  I definitely would like to see checks still going to Mary’s Gift to promote the Irish Language. The Belfast National Graves because the upkeep of the graves will always be needed.

The Pat Finucane Centre & Relatives for Justice because families of loved ones who were murdered by the Crown Forces have a right to know the Truth and Peace will only come with Truth & Justice. The cross-community projects should continue to be helped by the Christmas Appeal as this is the pathway to Peace (David Ervine Trust – Omagh Basketball Club). St. Patrick Centre in Downpatrick, Tar Anall, Thar Saile, and Coiste should continue to be on the list of recipients of the Christmas Appeal. I would also like the AOH to once again give to the Suicide Prevention Centre. It seems to be happening more & more in the North. Just a few weeks ago Fr. Matt Wallace, a great priest who helped so many in Belfast, took his own life. I think for now these charities still need our help.



Robert Bollbach Westchester County NY

            For the past two years I have had the privilege of traveling to Ireland with my fellow AOH Brothers and Sisters.  I have seen the good works of the funds we raise and the positive effects they have on the organizations and the people they serve. We have visited Belfast, Derry, Armagh, Crossmagelen, Downpatrick, Kinturk, Loughlinisland and Dublin.  Everywhere we went the message from the people of Northern Ireland was the same. THANK YOU for the voice of the AOH in America on their behalf. Thank you for our friendship and thank you for the funds we give to them to help support their programs. We have reached out to many different aspects of the community.  Many friendships and lifelong bonds have developed as a result of the Freedom for All Ireland campaigns.  We have seen firsthand the great work done by Relatives for Justice under Mark Thompson and his dedicated team in Belfast.  We are proud to have supported for many years John Kelly and the families from Bloody Sunday in Derry. We work with a school in Twinbrook (home of Bobby Sands) where ALL classes are in the Irish language. To quote Bobby Sands, “our revenge will be the laughter of our children”. We have witnessed the joy and laughter of the children. We support groups that help former prisoners, the Republican Graves Association and once you meet him, you will not forget “the coach” who established a cross-community basketball team and now a league in Omagh.
This year was the 15th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement that brought an end to The Troubles and peace to Northern Ireland.  At the two conferences I attended in Downpatrick and in Derry, the message from the AOH was very clear. We stand behind the Good Friday Agreement and we will continue to use our influence and make sure that our voice is heard until all aspects that were agreed upon 15 years ago are fully implemented.

Historical Happenings

The annual National History Day final at the University of Maryland is over for another year.  This is an international competition for youngsters from grade 6 through 12 who compete on a history topic locally, regionally and state-wide in a variety of formats from essays to performances, exhibits, slide shows, digital videos and websites.  Winners at each level advance to the next level and the ultimate winners compete at the national finals.  This year, there were 6,000 finalists of whom 25 were selected by your judging committee for consideration for the AOH and LAOH awards.  The AOH Award of two round-trip tickets to Ireland went to Cole Smith of Pittsboro, Indiana who portrayed a Druid discussing the coming of Christianity to Ireland.  The LAOH Award of $1500. scholarship assistance went to a team of four youngsters from Ragland, Alabama who portrayed the ghosts of his Irish ancestors lecturing an arrogant teen on respect for his parents and his heritage.

Sadly, upon my return home, I learned of the passing of a great man and close friend for whom I had tremendous admiration.  Artist Edmund Sullivan, whose landscapes of Ireland grace many Irish homes, went home to God, Whom he often spoke of as if he knew Him personally.  Edmund was a special man with a curious but honest outlook on life.  I remember an incident at the Nassau County Feis, many years ago, when Eddie had a tent full of his prints on display for sale.  He often laughed at the fact that I was the only one who called him Eddie, but we had grown up together in the Bronx and he was always Eddie to me.  As we chatted, a man came up and pointed to a framed print that was on display with a price tag of $300.  He said, “I’ll give you $250. for that one.”  Eddie replied, “The price is $300.  The man haggled and finally said disdainfully, “OK, $275 and that’s my final offer” to which Eddie responded, “the price is $325“.  The surprised haggler said, “But the tag says $300.” to which Eddie replied, “$350.”  The haggler mumbled something under his breath and stormed off.  I laughed and said, “You just lost a sale.”  Eddie looked at me in that special way he had and said, “That man didn’t appreciate art.  He just wanted a bargain; that’s not why I painted that piece.”  Then pointing to an old lady who was nearby admiring one of his works, he said, “See that woman.  This is the third time she has returned to look at that picture and you can tell by the way she looks at it that it is something special to her.”  Then he walked over to her and asked why she kept coming back to that picture and she said that it reminded her of where she grew up as a girl in Ireland, but she couldn’t afford to buy it.  At that, Eddie took the framed print off the easel and gave it to her.  I was dumbfounded and he laughed that inimitable laugh of his and said, “Now, she really appreciated that painting and her smile was worth more than its price.”  That incident truly defined this wonderful, sometimes complex, always unpredictable talent that we have just lost.  His like will not be seen again and I will miss him terribly, but I can still see him in each of his six works of art that hang on my walls.

On the 13th of July, some were inclined to mention the 150th anniversary of the New York Draft Riots and, using the bigoted press of the day, repeated the accusation that it was the Irish who rioted since they did not want to serve in the Union Army.  These amadons ignore the service of the Irish Brigade which historians have called the greatest Infantry Brigade that ever was (Remember Fontenoy by Joseph Bilby).  For the true and more accurate account of the New York Draft Riots, check the TOGIB version at the July Historical Happenings link on the New York State website at  (TOGIB means Truth Opposing Grossly Inaccurate Blarney; it is also the reverse of BIGOT).

You might also want to learn about the Brigadier General who led the Irish Brigade and who died on July 1.  Irish-born Thomas Francis Meagher was a hero to three nations and a memorial was erected to him by the Montana AOH in 2009 near the spot where he died.  That story is on the July Historical Happenings link of the National Website at  Mentioning Websites, my sincere thanks to Rochester Hibernian, Jim Henderson who created a website  that features my book of poetry, Leanhaun Shee and Me, it is on and folks can order printed or Kindle versions of the book.  The talented webmaster, Joe McDonald, also compiled a website for my books, CDs and DVDs.  For that one go to

In the History Repeats Itself department, people in northern Ireland are protesting that the British Historical Enquiries Team (HET), established to investigate Army killings during the troubles, will take care of their own.  They must remember the tragic story of Francis Sheehy Skeffington, a well-known pacifist and two newspaper editors: Thomas Dickson and Patrick MacIntyre – all innocent – who were executed by Capt. J.C.Bowen Colthurst in 1916.  In view of overwhelming evidence, Colthurst was found guilty but insane by another Royal Enquiry team.  He was sent to Broadhurst Asylum where he served less than two years and was retired to Canada on a full British military pension!  Yes, they take care of their own!

The harp, not the shamrock, is the official symbol of Ireland and its significance dates back to the earliest colonization of Ireland when each Chieftain had his own retinue of harpers.  I recently received an incredible CD by Moya Brennan and Cormac de Barra featured on concert harps with a few traditional musicians backing them.  De Barra has been playing harp since the age of 10, has played with the Chieftains and is part of Moya Brennan’s band.  Moya comes from the talented Donegal family group Clannad, which also gave the world Enya.  I tried to use the CD as background music while I was writing, but it failed for tune after tune kept demanding my full attention.  Suddenly I was in a Chieftain’s banquet hall and whatever I was attempting to write was lost in the magic of Brennan and deBarra.  It’s a great CD, but it won’t let you use it for background music.

My special thanks to New York State President Jim Burke for re-appointing me as AOH New York State Historian.  I will do my best to keep the tradition alive.

Anti Defamation



No sooner had my last article for the Hibernian Digest, one where I said that with “March madness” behind us things were quieting down on the anti-defamation front,  left my email outbox then things got very hot indeed.  This is a lesson to us that we must always be vigilant as regards our proud heritage and faith.  Among the items that have transpired since my last article:

  • It was revealed that Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee, reputed to be the highest paid University President in the country,  made remarks at an Ohio State University athletic department function regarding efforts to have Notre Dame join the big ten that “You just can’t trust those damn Catholics .”  As usual there were attempts to pass off Dr Gee’s remarks as a joke, that he didn’t mean it as it appeared.  It should be noted that Dr. Gee holds a law degree from Columbia University, so one would assume that he is well aware of the meaning of words and their consequences.  This of course is not the first time Dr. Gee has defamed Catholics, previously having insulted the order of the Little Sisters of the Poor and our co-religionist Polish Americans.  The AOH wrote a letter to Ohio State Governor Kasich and the Board of Regents of Ohio State.  We can report that Dr. Gee has decided to retire and will no longer be in a position to shape young minds with what appears to be his Thomas Nast-ian views of Catholics.   Before we celebrate victory, a cautionary note:  President Gee’s remarks were made at an Ohio State Athletic function reportedly attended by scores of people.  Recordings of Gee’s remarks capture people actually laughing at this bigotry.  The Ohio State administration took no action against Gee until they were inadvertently discovered by the AP while doing a piece on College Football recruitment.  I ask you brothers do any of us think that members of the audience would “laugh” or the University fail to proactively act on Dr. Gee’s remarks if they had been made against Jewish or Muslim Americans?  I would certainly hope not and as Irish Catholics we should work to ensure that Catholics are treated the same.   Before Gee’s retirement, Sports Illustrated Reporter Andy Staples in an article critical of Gee observed“… Gee is lucky he picked one of the handful of faiths people are allowed to publicly mock without becoming pariahs.”   We as Hibernians, members of an Order founded to protect our Catholic faith, should work to remove that dubious distinction.
  • The City of New York was set into an uproar when Coors, as official sponsors of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, issued a special beer can with a stylized depiction of the Puerto Rican Day Flag and the parade logo.  Members of the Puerto Rican Community were outrage and politicians tripped over themselves rushing to microphones to decry this defamation of Puerto Rican Heritage and Coors quickly  removed the can from store shelves and publically apologized.  In a letter to the Daily News, while fully supporting the Puerto Rican communities right to defend their heritage, we asked where are these same politicians each March when the green, white and orange of bratach na hÉireann, the Irish Tricolour, are use on T-Shirts to convey such messages as “Irish Drinking Team”, “F— me I ‘m Irish ” or a hat with  “Everyone loves  Irish” with a picture of a tricolored  cat are  sold openly in stores throughout the city.
  • Almost contemporaneously with the Coors beer can uproar, a young Irish Immigrant, Kevin Bell from Newry was struck and killed by a hit and run motorist.  When the City Medical Examiners van arrived on the scene, it became apparent that the city employee driver of the van was collecting recyclables using the city vehicle.  Unbelievably, photos capture that those on the scene did not even have the decency to remove the driver’s illicit garbage pickings from the van, instead they placed Mr. Bell’s body in the van and transported him with the garbage.   A letter from the AOH to the Mayor of New York, a man never shy when there is a microphone in the vicinity to express his opinions, prompted a weak response from the New York M.E’s office.  So far Mayor Bloomberg himself  as said nothing about this deplorable defamation of a human being.  What does this say about us as a society when we are more outraged by a beer can than we are about what most go down as the ultimate degradation of a human being?  Again Brothers, imagine the outrage if this occurred to a member of any other community but the Irish.
  • We are all aware of the outcry that has followed the revelation that celebrity chef Paula Deen used an outrageous racial epithet some years ago.  With much fanfare, the nation’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, announced that they would not condone such prejudice and dropped Ms. Deen’s line from their stores.  While agreeing with Wal-Marts views that in the 21st century there is no room for such denigrating language as concerns African Americans, we asked Wal-Mart CEO Michael T. Duke how his firm embraces those convictions when each March Wal-Mart sells denigrating, negative stereotype laden merchandise as regards Irish Americans.  We are still awaiting an answer, and we will follow up.

Brothers, I could go on.   I report these items not to depress you, but to challenge you; confident that we the Irish people are still here despite centuries of  famine, fire and sword  because we never backed down from a challenge even when the odds were against us.  If we as Hibernians do not take an active stand against defamation, if we do not promote our heritage and culture, who will?  If we as Hibernians don’t have as a core value the defense of our Heritage and Faith and put those values into action, how are we different from many other fine fraternal organizations?    After fingernails on a chalk board, the worse sound I can think of is hearing a fellow Hibernian saying when discussing an incident such as those above “That’s terrible, but it will never change”.  Brothers, it will never change if we don’t try and I think we are better than that.  We as Irish Catholics cannot continue into the next generation if we placidly accept the title of the heritage and faith “people are allowed to publicly mock without becoming pariahs.”   Let us as today’s Hibernians stand shoulder to shoulder to defend our faith and heritage in 2013  as our forefathers stood shoulder to shoulder around Old St. Patrick’s in 1844 and stand up against our society’s own modern  incarnations of the “Know Nothings.”


— Neil Cosgrove