Anti-Defamation Summer 2015

First, I would like to report that we have made some positive progress in the defense of our Heritage.  As you recall, the National Board supported the commendable action of Brother Kevin Westly in taking Walmart to task for selling merchandise depicting denigrating and insulting stereotypes of Irish Americans during our Heritage Month and in the exploitation of our great St. Patrick’s Day Holiday.  We have been successful in having them remove the beer pitcher toting “St. Pats Pub Leprechaun” costume from their website.  We have also had several conversations with the Walmart executive committee; they tell us that they now understand the pernicious bigotry from which the images on their St. Patrick’s Day merchandise derives from and they promise greater sensitivity when they select their merchandise for next years St. Patrick’s Day.  We have left a standing invitation to Walmart to engage in further discussion so as to avoid future incidents to the mutual benefit of all.  To get  a commitment from our nation’s largest retailer not to sell defaming merchandise is tangible progress; we will continue to monitor the situation and while we hope further action will not be needed be ready to act if these commitments are not honored.


Brothers, before leaving St. Patrick’s Day just another interesting fact that has recently come to my attention.   The Washington Times reported that St. Patrick’s Day rates a lowly 11th among America’s beer drinking Holidays, Father’s Day is first, followed by  the  Fourth of July, Labor Day and Cinco de Mayo.  Now the question I ask is why then do we see the day we publicly recognize our heritage and the contributions of generations of Irish and Irish American men and women constantly portrayed as synonymous with beer?  Isn’t it interesting (though by no means wishing similar defamation on our fellow Americans of Hispanic heritage) that when we go to prolific defamers such as Spencer’s that we do not see any merchandise  promoting the “fun” (as defamers like to mis-characterize the  denigrating images they promote as “St. Paddy’s Day [sic]” merchandise) of the fourth largest beer drinking day in America?  Perhaps there is  more behind the scurrilous images being sold as St. Patrick’s Day merchandise than just “fun”? Certainly there seems a double standard.


Finally Brothers, I wish you a happy and restive summer and if you are traveling safe journeys.  Summer is also the time of many Irish Festivals and Feisana.  If your Division is running one, please ensure your vendors are not selling defaming merchandise; we do not want to be accused of “do as I say and not as I do”.  If not in there already, consider adding a codicil to your vendor agreement banning such merchandise. If a vendor is selling defaming items, ask them to remove them; if they refuse, ask them to leave.  Our heritage and principles are worth defending.


Irish American Heritage Month : A Call To Action

A Call To Action

Neil Cosgrove

Brothers as I sit and write this I have just come back from the recent NY State Board Meeting. I must confess that there two items that should be troubling to all Hibernians. First, our worthy National Historian and several of our Brothers have been doing exceptional work in encouraging the perpetuation our noble heritage and the study of history in general in awarding generous prizes for the best National History Day submissions regarding an Irish or Irish American Themed topic.

Sadly, he reported that this year THERE WAS NOT ONE QUALIFYING ENTRY for which to give the AOH prize. Let me repeat that: NATIONALLY, NOT ONE ENTRY WITH AN IRISH OR IRISH AMERICAN THEME. Compound this with the fact that this year’s topic was “Leadership and Legacy”; so this means there was not one entry on Commodore John Barry, Mother Jones,  General Michael Cochran or Lt. Michael P. Murphy.

Secondly, it was reported that there were very few entries for a very generous NY AOH Scholarship that also required a test on Irish and Irish American heritage.

Brothers, this should be a wake up call and a call to action to all of us. Our oath and our Irish values commend us to “keep the tradition alive.” If we are proud of our heritage, we should be talking about it and ensuring it is being kept alive. How sad it would it be if a heritage that has been kept alive through Strongbow, Elizabeth I, Cromwell, the Great Hunger and the Know Nothings should now fade away to die with a whimper. If I can’t move you on emotional terms, what about the pragmatic: where is the next generation of Hibernians coming from if we don’t foster a new generation that values their heritage?

If I can be a bit pedantic, many well meaning Hibernians will refer to March as “Irish American History Month” rather than “Irish American Heritage Month”. There is a big difference between History and Heritage. The dictionary defines History as “the study of past events” while Heritage is “Something that is passed down from preceding generations, an inheritance.” Heritage is history brought to life in the present day and passed on as a gift and inspiration. Make sure that our heritage is an integral part of your Division’s monthly meeting and put “keeping the tradition alive” into practice.  Start now to coordinate an Irish American Heritage Month event in your community for March.

People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.”
-Edmund Burke

National Chairman’s Report

by William J. Sullivan
National Board Liaison for New England
Chairman Irish Way & Study Abroad Scholarship Programs


What a winter it has been here in New England! It has been the winter that would not end! With spring now here and the snow in many areas but a memory, many State and County Boards are in the midst of planning their upcoming biennial conventions. The Massachusetts State Board Convention will be held from May 29 – 31 in Hyannis on Cape Cod; the Connecticut State Board Convention will take place in Meriden, Connecticut over the weekend of July 10 -12; and the Rhode Island State Board Convention will be held in the fall from September 18 -20. Each of these convention committees has been hard at work preparing a productive and fun filled weekend for all the delegates who attend. At each of these conventions, I look forward to meeting many of my Brother and Sister Hibernians. More on each of these conventions will be forthcoming in future Hibernian Digest articles.

The AOH National Board through the Irish Way and Study Abroad Scholarships tries to install and foster among our children and grandchildren, a love of Irish culture, history and knowledge of our ancestral homeland.  Recently I received a letter from one of last year’s recipient’s, Elizabethwin Broost of Illinois. In her note, Elizabethwin not only thanked the AOH for her scholarship, but wrote of the incredible experiences that she had while in Ireland, and of the new appreciation of Irish history and culture that she came away with. After reading this note, it definitely proved that the scholarships and programs that we offer and supports are right on the mark!

I want to make note of the many numerous inquiries that we received over the past year regarding the National Board’s Irish Way and Study Abroad Scholarships. In the next edition of the Hibernian Digest we will be announcing the recipients of this year’s Scholarship Awards.  When the 2016 scholarship opportunities are announced this fall in the Hibernian Digest, please consider taking advantage of them. Enjoy the great summer weather ahead!

John Devoy Memorial


I am writing this letter to ask for your help with raising awareness, and with Fundraising, for the erection of a full size bronze statue of FORGOTTEN IRISH HERO JOHN DEVOY, in a place of prominence, in the Town of Naas County Kildare Ireland. Which is where John Devoy is from.

I am a part of the John Devoy Memorial Committee, a sub Committee of the Kildare association in New York. That is why this project is so near and dear to my heart.

John Devoy was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, he was caught and imprisoned in England for his role for the fight for Irish freedom, from the oppression and the atrocities, committed against the people of Ireland by the British empire. On his release from prison he came to America, and became a founding member of Clan Na Gael, where he continued to raise awareness of the plight of the Irish people.

He was one of the main architects and people responsible for the 1916 Easter Rising.

After his death, his remains were brought back to Ireland for Burial in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, Ireland, where he received a State funeral. Not only was he an Irish hero, he was an Irish-American hero, and deserves proper recognition for his sacrifice and service in the pursuit of the freedom of the Irish people.

I would like to ask you please, brothers, for each division to make a donation to this significant and worthy cause. Seeing as next year marks the 100 anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, hopefully making a donation to this project could be part of your 1916 Easter Rising centennial commemorations. We plan on erecting the statue in October of this year.

Donations can be made out to: The County Kildare Association JDM fund, 78 Walnut Avenue, Floral Park, NY  11001.

On behalf of the John Devoy memorial committee, I would like to thank you in advance for your generosity and support. To those of you already aware of this project and are working with us, thank you for your continued generosity and support.

In our Motto,
Clive Cronin
President AOH Division 18 – Peekskill
Immigration Chairman AOH Westchester County


Dr. Andrew Manning

Our brother and friend, Dr. Andrew Manning, 42, Vice-President of the Joseph Plunkett–Joe McDonnell Division, Long Beach, California, died unexpectedly on Christmas Day 2014 at his home in Long Beach, California. Andrew was born and raised in Orange, CA and had lived in Long Beach for many years. For Andrew, though, as for so many Irishmen, the word “home” carries a singularly unique set of emotions.

Intellectually, he found a home as a lecturer in International Politics at the University of Southern California. In the process of writing a book on the Great Hunger, he was dedicated to making sure students of Irish history would no longer learn about “The Potato Famine” but “The Great Hunger.” I will always remember and honor his invocation on this. This past Easter Saturday, in the car on our way to commemorate the 1916 Easter uprising, I told my 22-year-old niece — a recent college graduate — “It wasn’t really a potato famine. There was actually enough food, but the British government restricted its distribution. It was more of a Great Hunger than a potato famine.” She had no idea.

Socially, his easy smile and quiet voice found a home in the company of the members of the Joseph Plunkett–Joe McDonnell Division, formed in Long Beach in 2009. One of our Division’s original members and one of its most committed, he helped initiate, and was the heart and soul of, a successful 2011-2014 campaign, which secured official proclamations in support of Irish Freedom from the Long Beach City Council and the Los Angeles police Emerald Society. He wore humility and unselfishness effortlessly, as if they were the natural fabric of his soul. Those of us who attended the 2014 commemoration of the 1916 Easter Uprising will never forget when he gathered us around after the event and emptied his piggy bank of coins on a table for a charitable cause he was sending the money to, and asked us to do the same. The coins went everywhere. As Beckett might say, he was poor; he was a man of great wealth.

And when he kneeled at a pew in a Catholic Church and closed his eyes, which he did every day, he was spiritually most at home.

Many of the men AOH honors were taken young, yet left an indelible impression. When our revered Orange County President Jerry O’Keefe asked us to reflect in silence on the passing of Professor Manning this past Easter Saturday, tears filled the corners of the eyes of more than one man in the room.


A tree was planted in Ireland in 1916.  This series presents profiles of the 16 executed heroes of Easter Week as the roots of Ireland’s Liberty Tree.


Patriots Plunkett

JOSEPH MARY PLUNKETT (Nov. 21, 1887 – May 4, 1916)

Joseph Mary Plunkett was born in Dublin to George Noble, Count Plunkett, and educated at Belvedere College, Dublin, Stonyhurst, England, and UCD.  His family name had been prominent in Irish history for 600 years.  St. Oliver Plunkett was of their family and they had always remained loyal to Ireland and the faith, as evidenced by his middle name in honor of the Mother of Jesus.

Sickly with tuberculosis, Joseph was always a man of frail health.  After his graduation he spent some years recuperating in the dryer climates of Italy, Egypt, and Algeria.  He returned to Dublin in 1911, where he renewed his friendship with Tomás MacDonagh, another UCD graduate.  Always creative, he and MacDonagh launched the Irish Review and helped to found the Irish Theater.  The nationalism that he inherited from his family soon emerged in inspired patriotic poetry in which he damned the conquerors of his land and praised the glories of her heritage.  His poetry is found in “The Circle and the Sword” and the “Occulta”, published posthumously.

His patriotism was not only oral and written – he was one of the founders of the Irish Volunteers and a member of its first Executive in 1913.  He joined the IRB, and was sent on several secret and dangerous missions.  He went to America as a liaison to the AOH and Clan na Gael – organizations that were raising funds for an insurrection.  He went to Germany in 1915 to assist Roger Casement in his attempt to secure that country’s aid for Irish independence.  It was he who approved the purchase of German arms for the IRB.  On his return to Ireland he was made a member of the IRB Military Council and became Director of Military Operations.  When a rising was decided upon for Easter Sunday, 1916, it was Plunkett who drew up the strategy and plans for the occupation of Dublin.  A tireless worker despite his ill health, his efforts were an inspiration to all.

Then, early in 1916 as plans were reaching fruition, Joseph fell seriously ill.  The many exertions on his frail frame in the cause of Ireland’s freedom had taken their toll.  He was taken to hospital to undergo throat surgery.  He was recuperating from that surgery on Good Friday 1916 when he learned of Casement’s capture and the loss of the arms shipment.  He knew the blow must be struck at once or the opportunity would be gone forever; he also knew that he had to be a part of it.  He left the nursing home in which he was convalescing and joined his comrades-in-arms.  Tom Clarke was delighted to have Plunkett back, especially at so critical a time and Joseph proudly affixed his signature to the Proclamation of the Irish Republic as the last to sign.  The die was cast!  On Easter Monday, Plunkett and the other leaders assembled their men and marched to the General Post Office in Dublin and into the pages of Irish history.  For one short but glorious week, the patriotic band of little more than 1,500 men and women with small arms held off more than 16,000 seasoned troops of the most powerful army in Europe equipped with artillery and machine guns and 1,000 police.

After the Rising, Plunkett and the other leaders were taken to Richmond barracks where they were Court Martialed, sentenced to death, and remitted to Kilmainham Jail to await execution. Broken in health, but not in spirit, on the wall of his cell Plunkett scratched his most memorable poem; it stands today as mute testimony to the virtue and caliber of these men.


I see His blood upon the rose

And in the stars the glory of His eyes,

His body gleams amid eternal snows,

His tears fall from the skies.


On the night of May 3, as Joseph awaited his fate on the coming morning, the prison Chaplain arrived with his sweetheart, Grace Gifford whose sister had already been married to Tom MacDonagh.  In fulfillment of their wishes, they were married in the prison chapel with two guards as witnesses. Then, with a group of guards in their cell, they were allowed 10 minutes together before Grace was cruelly ushered out.  Six hours later 29-year-old Joseph Mary Plunkett added his name to the glorious list of Martyrs who have fallen in the cause of Roisin Dubh.


Patriots Ceannt Patriots Plunkett

ÉAMONN CEANNT Sept. 21, 1881 – 8/May 8, 1916)

Éamonn Ceannt (Edward Kent) was born in 1881 in the town barracks of Ballymoe, County Galway, where his father, James, was stationed as an officer in the Royal Irish Constabulary.  The Kent family moved to Dublin when his father retired and it was there, in the O’Connell School of the Irish Christian Brothers, that young Edward took his first steps on the road to becoming a nationalist.  There he developed an interest in Irish culture, especially in Irish language and history.  He was also a musician and a talented uileann piper.  After graduation, he attended University College Dublin.  Two major events that evoked nationalism at the end of the 19th century were the centennial commemoration of the 1798 Uprising and the Boer War in South Africa.  Young Edward took part in the commemoration and supported the Boers against the British.

Now a fluent Irish speaker, he joined the Gaelic League in 1900 where he met Pádraic Pearse and Eoin MacNeill and adopted the Irish form of his name – Éamonn Ceannt.  He also founded the Dublin Pipers’ Club in 1900 and became club Secretary.  An entry in the club minutes book, dated 14 October 1913 is a request from Pádraic Pearse through Éamonn for pipers to play at a feis in aid of St. Endas – Pearse’s bilingual school.  Ceannt served as Secretary until he retired after his marriage to club Treasurer, Áine O’Brennan in June 1905, in a ceremony conducted in the Irish language. Their son Ronán was born a year later.  To support his new family Éamonn worked as an accountant in the Dublin Corporation Treasurer’s Office with a salary of £300 a year.

He joined Sinn Fein in 1907, was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1912 and joined the Irish Volunteers upon their formation in November 1913.  He was later elected to the Volunteer’s provisional committee, becoming involved in fund raising for arms.  After being recognized as one of the more dedicated of its members, he was given command of the Fourth Battalion of Irish Volunteers.  He was soon made an original member of the Military Committee and thus became one of the seven signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.  In that position, he was important in the planning of the Easter Rising.  When the rising started, as Commandant of the Fourth Battalion, he was assigned to take the Marrowbone Lane Distillery and the South Dublin Union which is now the site of St James’s Hospital.  With more than 100 men under his command, Cathal Brugha (Charles Burgess) as his second-in-command and William T. Cosgrave, future Chairman of the Irish Provisional Government, among his forces, they commandeered both facilities.

Ceannt’s battalion saw intense fighting during the week.  At one point, Cathal Brugha, was seriously wounded. He became separated from his unit, but still managed to hold off a large body of British troops despite multiple bullet and shrapnel wounds.  Ceannt came to his rescue and found him propped up against a wall in a pool of his own blood, pistol in hand and defiantly singing ‘God Save Ireland’ to taunt the attacking British troops.  He was moved to Union Hospital and survived the rising. The Fourth Battalion held out for the entire week and surrendered only when ordered to do so by Pádraic Pearse.

Ceannt was taken to Kilmainham Jail where he was Court-Martialed and sentenced to death.  His young life was taken by a British firing squad on 8 May 1916.  After Éamonn’s execution, his wife, Áine, founded the Irish White Cross to help the families impoverished by British actions or by the loss of their breadwinners in the War of Independence.

O’Donnell on the Irish-American role in the Easter Rising


Dr. Ruan O’Donnell spoke on ‘Irish America’s Role in the Easter Rising’ at the Hibernian Hall at the Hudson Valley Irish Center in Verplanck NY. To mark the occasion, the Center unveiled their copy of the  new Robert Ballagh print of the GPO 1916. Proceeds of the print went to benefit restoration of the Republican Monument at Glasnevin Cemetary  From left, Div 18 President Clive Cronin, Westchester Co. President Aidan O’Kelly Lynch, Past President Brian Kelly, Dan Dennehy, Dr. Ruan O’Donnell, U.S. Army Ret. General Jim Cullen (FOSF USA), Westchester Co. Treasurer Cathal McGreal.

Hibernians Respect Life

Life March 1ABrother and Sister Hibernians from across the country gathered to support the pro-life movement on January 22, the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Kristen Day, Executive Director of Democrats for Life of America, and Timothy O’Donnell, S.T.D., President of Christendom College, addressed Hibernians that morning at the Right to Life Breakfast encouraging protection of and respect for life from conception to natural death. The same day the House of Representatives passed a bill, “H.R. 7” to restrict federal funding of abortion. Many viewed the bill as an inadequate substitute after another measure, which would have banned abortion after 20 weeks, lost support. Deputy National Chaplain Fr. Timothy Harris, AOH National President Brendan Moore, and LAOH President Mary Hogan led Hibernian contingents in the march, an impressive part of the more-than 500,000-person demonstration.

Troy invested into the Equestrian Order

Troy invested into the Equestrian Order

An auspicious event that took place in Maryland with Cardinal Edwin O’Brien on November 1. Hibernian Pat Troy, a native of County Offaly, Ireland, and resident of Alexandria, Virginia, was invested into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Pat and Bernadette Troy with His Eminence Edwin Cardinal O'Brien, Knight of the Collar, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.  The event took place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, Mary-land.  It was the first Catholic Basilica established in Maryland in 1806.  The founder, John Carroll, was Bishop and Archbishop from 1790-1815.

Pat and Bernadette Troy with His Eminence Edwin Cardinal O’Brien, Knight of the Collar, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. The event took place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, Mary-land. It was the first Catholic Basilica established in Maryland in 1806. The founder, John Carroll, was Bishop and Archbishop from 1790-1815.

Pat Troy being knighted into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem by His Eminence Edwin Cardinal O'Brien, Knight of the Collar and Grand Master.

Pat Troy being knighted into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem by His Eminence Edwin Cardinal O’Brien, Knight of the Collar and Grand Master.

Michael “Mike” Berry

Michael “Mike” Berry, 83, died Nov. 13 at home with his loving family at his side. Born and raised in Longford, Ireland, Mike emigrated from Ireland to America and finally settled in Bridgewater, New Jersey.

Mike was a longtime member of the AOH Saint Patrick Division 1, Somerset County, NJ; the Knights of Columbus 1432, the Tara Association, The Comhaltas Martin Mulvihill Branch, and the Irish American Association of North West Jersey.

Mike was the driving force behind the Monthly Sesiuns that the Division held before he became ill. Mike enjoyed Irish Music, and a testament of that love was shown at his viewing when over 20 musicians, led by his daughter, Maureen, on accordion played in honor of Mike. Above all, he was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend who will be missed by all who knew him.

Mike was very proud of his Irish heritage. He was the Grand Marshal of the Somerville, NJ Saint Patrick’s Parade in 2003. An avid musician, Mike was especially fond of playing the accordion, bodhran, harmonica, spoons, harp, and the tin whistle. Mike’s talents earned him a reputation of being one of the greatest Irish musicians of his time. Mike won the All Irelands for whistling in 1992.

Prior to his retirement, Mike worked for AT&T and Bell Labs for 37 years.

His work for our Division, his friendship, and his presence will be missed.