On Moving Forward

If it’s Spring in an odd-numbered year (2015), then it must be the start of the AOH State Convention Season.

As pointed out in the previous Digest edition, State Conventions are extremely important events and should be as productive as possible in terms of addressing current issues and concerns within your state, the discernment of your state’s future leadership, and setting a direction for the next two years.

Please, please, please…

-Forward immediately to me by email (1) the names, (2) the email addresses, and (3) the phone numbers for your state’s newly elected State President and State Vice President. If one or both of the Brothers currently serving in those positions have been re-elected to serve for another two year term, please notify me of that by emailing as well.

-Forward all required information for newly elected state officers to National Secretary Jere Cole on the appropriate form.

-Be aware that any division that has not yet paid its annual assessment is deemed “not in good standing” within the Order, and is banned from participating in your 2015 State Convention. If necessary, seek further guidance on this matter from National Legal Counsel Patrick Sturdy. The latest assessment payment updates are always available from National Treasurer Danny O’Connell.

 

Right Now:

National Director Tom O’Donnell is presently appealing for support to fund Project Saint Patrick. As you are aware, this is an important effort on the part of all levels of the AOH and LAOH to provide grants to those in formation who are hoping to devote their lives as priests, brothers, and sisters to the service our Church. Kindly check to determine if your division, county board, or state board has already contributed.

Past National President Seamus Boyle is acceptiong donations for the refurbishment of the Medal of Honor Grove. This unique and inspiring memorial is privately supported. Even aside from funding, Hibernians over the years have generously provided the physical labor needed to maintain this property.

 

Down the Line:

The weekend of October 3, 2015, has been confirmed for the Interim National Board Meeting. This triple-header event will take place at the Crowne Plaza Suffern Hotel in Rockland County, New York, and will consist of the Board Meeting, the National President’s Testimonial Dinner, and the conferral of the AOH-LAOH Sean MacBride Humanitarian Award. A complete mailing has already been forwarded to all division, county, and state presidents. All are urged to attend and make arrangements immediately.

The National Hibernian Commemoration of the Centenary of Ireland’s 1916 Rising is set for Saturday, April 23, 2016, in New York City. National Vice President Jim McKay is chairing this important event, so please make plans to be present once final details have been provided.

As previously announced, the AOH-LAOH National Convention at Harrah’s in Atlantic City is now set for July 7-11, 2016. We are hoping where possible to adjust scheduling to enable our AOH delegates to participate in a broader workshop experience dealing with practical topics for the improved operation of our divisions and the enhanced participation of our Brother members.

Stay tuned!

On Moving Forward

President’s Column
Brendan Moore

On Moving Forward

FOCUS AND CONCERNS:

As I prepare this column for The Hibernian Digest, former U.S. Senator Gary Hart has just landed in Ireland to attempt to resolve the stalemate that has stalled progress in the full and ongoing implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. Official American mediation has consistently been an important stimulus in addressing issues related to injustice and discrimination in the north. As an organization, the AOH is fundamentally committed to realizing all that the Good Friday Agreement promised and so we are hopeful that this latest intervention may bear fruit. Relatedly, on September 26th leaders of various Irish organizations were invited to meet at the Irish Consulate in New York City with Michael Flanagan, Ireland’s Foreign Minister. The topic was limited to the obvious lack of progress in the North of Ireland and there was, indeed, a very frank and productive exchange, which I believe was helpful in providing the Minister with a clear understanding of our perspective as well as our need for regular feedback on progress and outstanding problems.

In addition, since our recent St. Louis National Convention, much time, focus, and concern has been given to the 2016 convention in Atlantic City. As most of you are aware from media reports, the Trump Taj Mahal, our hotel(!), recently faced enormous financial challenges. Insofar as it is possible, we are hoping and planning to work toward a 2016 convention in Atlantic City. On the positive side, this goal has received tremendous support from the National Vice President, the National Secretary, the National Treasurer, and the National Legal Counsel, and I am tremendously grateful to them for their time, efforts, and valued insights. In addition, our full National Board was updated by means of a conference call held in the second half of October, during which their views and recommendations were provided. LAOH National President Mary Hogan and I have, likewise, used every opportunity to exchange both information and perspectives on this challenging situation. I remain convinced that with so much collaboration and understanding, we will ultimately succeed in resolving this matter.

 

FOCUS AND ATTENTION:

In the midst of so much busy-ness and preoccupation, there is Advent, the “coming” of Christmas. Our real and pressing challenge is to find the time to “be beyond” all of those other issues and concerns that seem to endlessly demand our “undivided attention.” Simply put, the challenge for us leading up to Christmas (and afterwards?) is to divide our attention so as to focus where Colossians 3:12-13 tells us we all need to focus: “…you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else.” Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

 

On Moving Forward … Transitions

AOH President Brendan Moore

AOH President Brendan Moore

Brothers, I am eager to update you on some National Board happenings following the St. Louis Convention.

First of all, there are seven board members who were not on the previous (2012-2014) board. Out of 29 officers, that is a turnover of almost 25 percent. There is also a new National Office address: P.O. Box 539, West Caldwell, NJ, 07007. We all owe a tremendous debt to National Secretary Jere Cole, National Vice President Jim McKay and National Treasurer Danny O’Connell, as well as the AOH members of Auburn and New Jersey who aided in our change of operations. Jere is still organizing and learning about the many files, documents and supplies that Tom McNabb kept at his fingertips for three decades.

On our first full National Board conference call held on Sept. 3, I sought to provide our National Directors, (five out of six are new to the position!) with some sense of their triple roles as national officers. They address the “business” of the Order, chair National Board committees, and have been assigned specific states for which they provide assistance and communication. In this last regard, I urged them to reach out to the states to which they have been assigned. This should especially go forward through frequently touching base with state presidents. I urged them to continually address opportunities for growth in their assigned states. But in addition, I instructed them to “take the pulse” of their states so as to assess our AOH “health” in each.

Before moving on, I would like to request your prayers for Past National President Joe Roche who suffered a stroke following his return home from the convention. Anne Marie has requested that we hold off from visits, phone calls and emails as Joe continues to make progress in his rehab.

Priorities

Brothers, because I feel very strongly that recruitment of new members and retention of current members is most important, I have assigned two energetic Brothers to lead that effort. Sean Pender and Mike Delaney are both newly elected National Directors who will also serve as National Co-Organizers.

As a national organization, we must start to focus our attention, energy and resources on recruitment. It is fine to observe that there are growth and expansion opportunities awaiting AOH initiatives in such areas as Delaware, Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston), Iowa, West Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia and elsewhere. And there are still tremendous opportunities to grow the AOH within states where we already have a presence. We can no longer afford to ignore these challenges or become complacent in this regard. Please assist. Recruit. Let this be a collaborative effort whereby, together, we identify what is possible to boost our membership locally in our own towns, counties and states.

Likewise, encouraging and preparing younger leaders at the division, county, state and national levels needs to be studied and acted upon. WE HAVE TO IDENTIFY, TRAIN AND TRUST YOUNG LEADERS. However, there will be no young leaders if we fail to recruit young members We must seek and crave and encourage a revival of younger talent, energy and ideas. Brothers, I have said both privately and publicly in the past, if we appear to be “Ancient” and act “Ancient” and think “Ancient” then we will ultimately be perceived as being “Ancient.”

President Brendan Moore

Summer 2013 is just a memory and our divisions are now well into the whirl of activities that constitute the normal tempo for most. Your National Board has been in communication on a periodic basis through convenient and inexpensive conference calls. We have not only been able to touch base with each other in terms of issues, concerns, and the “business” of the Order, but have successfully used our many calls to present reports from various committee chairmen. Such updates have kept our elected and appointed officers apprised of current projects such as the Commodore Barry Memorial Dedication, the upcoming St. Louis National Convention, the progress of legislation on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and many more significant topics. Such essential communication promotes the flow of ideas among us and further serves as a means of keeping in touch with what is happening throughout the AOH.

Likewise, our conference calls promote listening beyond the National Board. This was clearly demonstrated on the August 28th call with State Presidents, some of whom are “brand new,” having just come into office at recent state conventions. This proved to be an effective means of conveying the latest on some significant issues, including states’ use of the Digest to communicate their own news. But most importantly, participating presidents were able to address items they needed answers for. Similarly, on the evening of August 29th a conference call involved the top four AOH National Officers, the members of the Finance Oversight Committee, and the full Board of Trustees of The Hibernian Charity. The purpose of that meeting was to provide an opportunity for dialogue so as to insure that we continue on the same page in terms of the The Charity’s progress, function, and direction as an important and valuable subsidiary of the AOH.

As a community-based, national organization the AOH continues to be a mainstay of the broad Irish-American network. Our views on the Boston College Tapes Case were solicited during a radio show on that topic following the U.S. Attorney General’s decision. We have been counted on to participate in Consulate round-table discussions on Ireland’s plan to revise its National Constitution, particularly in terms of Diaspora issues and extending voting rights to non-resident Irish citizens. Under the auspices of our own District of Columbia State Board, a splendid event was organized to welcome Anne Armstrong, the new Irish Ambassador to the United States. In short, I am confident in reporting to you that there is little of significance taking place in Irish America that the Ancient Order of Hibernians is not at the forefront of, or at least involved in to a significant extent.

On a more “in-house” note, I was compelled to pause and reflect when I received an email from Chris Boyle of AOH Division #1 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Chris wanted to inform me of the sudden passing of the Division Chaplain, Father Brian Shaw. Chris added: “We are struck dumb by this news.” All of their shock, hurt, and loss were conveyed in that single, short sentence. Our AOH chaplains at every level–division, county, state, national–continue to play a most important role in this organization. We need to be mindful of that, just as my own awareness was heightened when I responded to Chris and the members of Division #1: “”We are blessed with AOH chaplains who are both Brothers and Models of Faith, Service, and Caring.”

President’s Message

We tend to believe that Hibernian activity slows down during the Summer months. Although far from asleep, the AOH might more accurately be described as catching its breath. But for our members who are busy with state conventions, the Irish festival/feis cycle, division picnics, golf outings, and so on, the pace must seem to be every bit as frantic as during September thru June.

(I challenge you. Just read through the pages of this edition of The Digest and you will easily notice all the good things going on that support the purpose and mission of the AOH!!) To all of you who have been so involved with so many Summer events, thank you for all your efforts to get done what needs to get done. And for everybody right now, it is time for a return to reality; a time to get back to business!

It is clear that the AOH will need to take the lead position in promoting Immigration Reform. The Bill passed by the U.S. Senate in June is viewed as a bi-partisan compromise, and the onus will now be on our Members of Congress in the House of Representatives to frame proposals that can be combined with the Senate version to form a comprehensive legislative package. For this to be achieved, AOH members will be called on repeatedly to contact their representatives to assure that an acceptable Bill is finally adopted. Fortunately, Dan Dennehy, our National Immigration Chairman, serves as a leading member of a coalition of Irish-American organizations committed to achieving comprehensive Immigration Reform, and down the line we can certainly count on Dan’s knowledge and insights to direct our own efforts.

As I have pointed out in the past, state conventions are very important in the life of the AOH in that they percolate local issues and concerns that need to be addressed within each state and beyond to the national level. In addition, new state leadership may emerge at conventions, and this is vital to the renewal of the entire organization. Many of our state conventions schedule a Major Degree ceremony as part of their proceedings, which is very important as a means of replenishing the Hibernian spirit of all those participating; the candidates, the members of the Major Degree Team, as well as the Brothers observing the ceremony. We hope to provide an updated listing of future Major Degrees, but I now urge divisions, counties, and states to start to initiate cooperative efforts to organize and schedule Major Degrees during the upcoming months.

Silly as it seems, 2014 is rapidly approaching. Planning has been ongoing for to prepare for the AOH Commodore John Barry Memorial Dedication at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on May 10th. Details will be made available as arrangements are completed, but this will be not only a significant event, but also a major milestone in AOH history. Similarly, the 2014 St. Louis National Convention Committee will be providing information as soon as remaining details are decided so that local planning can begin for delegate attendance.

More immediately, however, the AOH National President’s Testimonial Dinner is October 5th. Held every two years, this is a major National Board event that combines both toasting(??) and roasting(!!) of the National President, the conferral of the AOH-LAOH Sean MacBride Humanitarian Award (this year’s awardee is Mick Dunleavy of Pennsylvania) , and (earlier on Saturday) the AOH Interim National Board Meeting. Most importantly, the event is an opportunity to re-connect with so many Brother and Sister Hibernians from across America. I TRULY HOPE YOU CAN ATTEND. Details are provided on the last page of this edition, and I urge you to make your reservations and arrangements immediately (especially journal ads!!).

 

 

President Brendan Moore

By the time you receive this edition of the Hibernian Digest we will be well into 2013, but I still want to wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year on behalf of your National Board.

 

As 2012 drew to a close, much of the focus was on Northern Ireland issues. While Britain’s

Da Silva Report into the decades-ago assassination of attorney Patrick Finucane clearly pointed to security forces colluding with loyalist paramilitaries, there was an obvious attempt to avoid any hint that such collusion had been sanctioned by the higher/highest reaches of the British government. In addition, the AOH continued its official opposition to the exercise of subpoena power in support of British security forces’ efforts to make available Boston College’s confidential interviews with individuals associated with pre-Agreement hostilities in the North. This misuse of the provisions of the U.S.-U.K. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) has prompted the AOH to join with the Irish American Unity Conference and the Brehon Law Society in filing an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court. (The case is being pursued by The Hastings Group on a pro bono basis.)  On another front, our National Political Education Chairman, Joe Roche, coordinated with our National Freedom For All Ireland Chairman, Sean Pender, to renew the AOH campaign to encourage all levels of government in the U.S. to endorse the “Resolution For a United Ireland.” An explanation of the purpose and procedures was outlined in a letter to division presidents.

 

Division Presidents. Please be sure that your Annual Assessment and Annual Report have been forwarded to National Secretary Tom McNabb.

 

State Presidents, Please be sure that all requested information on upcoming state conventions has been sent to National Vice President Jim McKay.

 

You are both witnessing and performing miracles with the help and the hope you provide to others! As I got myself together for a demanding travel day very early on the morning of Saturday, December 15, I felt I couldn’t and shouldn’t leave the house without first forwarding an email to express the shock and regret of our National Board to Connecticut State President William Flannery, less than twenty-four hours after the tragic invasion of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Members of our Storm Relief Committee (Seamus Boyle, Jere Cole, Chip McLean, Dan Dennehy) along with Hibernian Charity’s Secretary Ed Dougherty (We needed him to sign the checks!), were on the road with me to distribute checks from your many generous AOH-LAOH donations. The stop in Long Beach (Nassau County) was followed by Rockaway (Queens), Gerritsen Beach (Brooklyn), and finally Forked River, New Jersey.  The only AOH hall in New York City is in Gerritsen Beach. Essentially it is the frame that now remains, but despite this it was being used as a supply and coordination point for relief and repair. It was there that I met the Connecticut State President (whom I emailed earlier), the New York State President, and the New York County President, in addition to many Hibernians from Queens, Saratoga, Albany, and elsewhere. They were giving their weekend in an effort to tear down to later build up. They brought hope with them and so did your generous and desperately needed checks!

 

This is what YOU have accomplished:

  • “We would like to take this opportunity to express a sincere thank you for all the help you have given not only to us, but all victims of Superstorm Sandy. The generous gifts of cleaning supplies, generators, gas, volunteers, and money to help the clean-up and rebuilding of homes will never be forgotten. There is a long road ahead for many, but with your continued love, support, and prayers we will all be back to normal some day.” (Family of Brooklyn County President Jim Sullivan)
  • “My family and I send our heartfelt thanks to you for the disaster relief assistance provided to us. It could not have come at a better time. It is deeply appreciated.” (Blessinger Family of Long Beach)
  • “Thank you for supporting our corporation’s recovery efforts due to Hurricane Sandy. Brendan, this February I will celebrate my 62nd year as a member of this organization and I was never so proud of being a Hibernian as I was this past Saturday.” (Al O’Hagan, Corporation President, AOH Hall in Gerritsen Beach)

 

Donations, Applications for Assistance, Additional Miracles still being accepted!

 

President’s Message

Brothers as I come to the end of my term representing you as National President, I would like to thank each and every one of you for your confidence in electing me for the past four years. I have done my best to do what I thought was in the best interest of the Organization as a whole. I realize that no one can please everyone, all of the time, but I tried. I thank you for all the letters, emails and calls of support and the few emails I had when members disagreed with my decisions. This is part of the job and I respect everyone’s opinion, it is easy to make popular decisions but making the right decision is a little harder. To those of you who I met throughout the country who gave me encouragement: to my National Board for their support, input and advice: to my National Chaplain and two Deputy Chaplains for their prayers and guidance: to the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania AOH/LAOH divisions especially my home Division 39, men and women for their untiring support: and my second home, Cape May County Division 1 for all the support you have given me, I thank you all.

Since I was elected President in New Orleans in 2008 I have so many things to be thankful for. First is to my family. My wife Berna who has been totally supportive over the past 4 years when I disappeared for days at a time on AOH business, my children, Michael, Tara and Bronagh for putting up with me for all the times I missed something they were involved with and to my six grandchildren, Kieran, Colin, Megan, Sheila, Brady and Finnegan who kept wondering where Granda was for a lot of their games etc.

It was a pleasure for me to attend so many AOH Functions from Dedications of Memorials, State Board & Division Meetings, Fundraisers, Communion Breakfasts, Festivals, Banquets, Installations, Degree Ceremonies, Division Anniversaries from 20 year to 125year, President’s Dinners and more. Although I did not count I know that I visited over three quarters of the states where we have divisions and many of those states I visited  more than once. I apologize if I did not visit your state or division but I am not going to disappear, I may get there yet. I have always been received with the welcome of Hibernianism in Friendship Unity and Christian Charity.

I had many highlights in my four years some of which include the 175th Anniversary of our founding in 1836. With the leadership of Past National President, Ed Wallace, as Chairman we really did celebrate starting with a reception at the Irish Consulate’s residence in NY hosted by Consulate General Noel Kilkenny, followed by a Mass and reception at the Basilica of Old St Patrick’s Cathedral, thanks to Patrick Allen, Tom Beirne & Msgr. Donald Sakano and finishing our yearlong celebration with a reception at the Embassy in Washington DC hosted by Irish Ambassador Michael Collins.

Other highlights included my visit to Grosse Ile in Canada to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the erection of the Celtic Cross by the AOH in remembrance of those who died there during An Gorta Mor and the repair and restoration to an acceptable state of the Medal Of Honor Grove in Valley Forge.  It was in a deplorable state when we first found out about it, but is now in much better condition and we are continuing to work to make it the gem that it should be.  I had the privilege of working on the moving Vietnam Wall and seeing the completion of a permanent wall in Wildwood NJ to honor all our deceased from the Viet Nam War. It was a very humbling experience to visit Walter Reed Hospital in Washington and to meet many of the wounded warriors and to meet with the representatives of the Archdiocese for the Military while in Washington, thanks to JJ Kelly, our Veterans affairs chairman.

While serving the members I met many of our politicians here in Washington and in Ireland including Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Enda Kenny. I was invited to the White House on 5 occasions and had numerous visits and meetings with the Irish Ambassador, Michael Collins, including a videotaped interview at the studio of our National Director, Keith Carney.  I met many of the Consul Generals around the country and attended the installation of our own Jim McKay as Deputy Consul of Louisiana. I also had meetings with representatives of the Naval Academy in Annapolis to get the monument honoring Commodore John Barry off the ground and met with people who are in the process of trying to get a museum in DC representing all ethnic groups; the AOH was one of the first organizations on Board.

I was honored to have a reception in my home town of Newry by the city council, meeting with Cardinal Brady in his residence in Armagh and accompanied by many of our National Board members, I attended a reception at the Iveagh House in Dublin by the Irish Government hosted by Niall Burgess former Consul General in New York.  My visit to Augusta and Montana were also highlights of my term and again I was shown Hibernian hospitality. The history that I brought back from these 2 visits will stay with me forever. We commemorated International An Gorta Mor Day with Mass and remembrances observed by the AOH and our yearly celebration honoring Commodore John Barry continued with a special dedication at Villanova University. Sponsoring a youth basketball team from Omagh Co Tyrone was one of the fruits of the Freedom for All Ireland donations of the Christmas appeal. Meeting and greeting the Irish Flag ship, Le Eithne, in Philadelphia was a great way for our members to show their hospitality to the many sailors on the ship and to show them the local Irish sites and monuments. Being honored by the United Irish Societies of New York was indeed a privilege for me as well as being asked to speak at the United Ireland Forum in Manhattan.

Since the last edition of the Digest all the St Patrick’s Day festivities have passed but again not without some serious defamation to our patron Saint. In my opinion the garbage that some of these stores are pedaling is disgusting to say the least, but I want to thank all the Hibernians from throughout the country that protested and tried to stop this kind of trash being sold. I know a lot of reports will be coming in about the various parades, many of which I attended so I will not go into detail on the parades except for a few.

Two of the parades which I attended were the Philadelphia parade, which was the biggest yet, and congratulations go out to John Dougherty as Grand Marshall and the Ring of Honor. As usual, Mike Bradley did a superb job as Parade Director as well as the Parade Committee. Congratulations to AOH Division 17 on being named the winner of the Joseph E Montgomery Award for outstanding AOH/LAOH group; And the parade in North Wildwood, Cape May County NJ, was also the largest parade ever and what a great Grand Marshal they had, Wildwood Catholic High School, was the Grand Marshal represented by students who led the parade down Atlantic Ave and the streets lined with people. Congratulations to AOH Division 1 Cape May County, officers and members, for all their hard work and to Mayor Bill Henfy and the City Council of North Wildwood for putting on such a parade.

I attended many Masses, Parties, Flag Raising ceremonies, Communion breakfasts and after-parade festivities over the month of March and a lot of celebrating, but a lot of hard work also went into these month long festivities.  I want to thank all those who took the time and energy to obtain from their municipalities the Irish American Heritage Month Proclamations and for notifying me so we can keep a list of them so we can use them next year to show people that our goal is to make March IAHM on a permanent basis. If you did not send me your list of state, city, towns, townships or boroughs it is not too late to do so and we will add them to the list. Those of you who protested or confronted managers of stores and businesses who sold derogatory materials which offended our race and religion, those of you who wrote letters, sent emails and otherwise protested against such businesses, THANK YOU

I had the privilege of attending the re burial of the remains of 5 of the victims of the Duffy’s Cut saga. In 1832, 57 young Irish Immigrants left their homes in Donegal, Derry and Tyrone to come to make their living in a place called Malvern PA working on the railroad at a place called Duffy’s Cut. For well over 150 years it was believed that they all died from cholera and were buried in a mass grave. Bill Watson and his twin brother Frank, after receiving a box of railroad artifacts owned by their grandfather, found reason to believe that many of them had been murdered so they began an investigation. Bill and his volunteers began a dig at the site and found the skeletal remains, many of them had bullet holes in their skulls or what looked like hatchet marks to the skull.  These poor immigrants, whether they had Cholera or not, were thrown into a mass grave, some of them possibly still alive.  Five of them received a proper Catholic Burial last month in the West Laurel Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd PA which was attended by hundreds of people. One of the remains who was positively identified and is being re buried in his native Donegal after his descendents were contacted by Bill Watson. An eight foot Celtic cross and a granite slab with all 57 names on it marks the grave in Laurel Hill where the burial took place. It was one of the most moving ceremonies I have ever attended, may they all now rest in peace. For further information just Google Duffy’s Cut, there is a world of information there.

Over the past few months, you have heard about the Government interference in our religious rights and many statements from our Bishops and Cardinals were read at masses. Our membership and leadership has written to the White House, our Congressmen and Senators and stood behind our Bishops on this issue of the HHS and abortion and other issues. I do not need to remind you of the repercussions this can have if we sit back and expect everyone else to contact their politicians, remember this is election year and the politicians need you so it is imperative that you hold their feet to the fire on this very important issue. Contact your representatives and tell them that this law MUST NOT be allowed to remain in the health care act.

Brothers I hope to see many of you at the convention in Turning Stone in July and remember to use your vote to put the best qualified people in office. I was blessed with the Board that I had for the past four years and I wish the new Board all the best of luck and hope they have the same kind of support and harmony which I have had.  Thank you and God Bless.

President’s Message

Brothers, the summer seems to have passed us by without much notice; each year seems to go by quicker. It was a fairly busy summer with all the conventions taking place and many other functions as well. I attended the LAOH National President’s Dinner honoring Margaret Hennessey in Melville, New York, and it was a beautiful affair starting with the Mass on Saturday evening.

There were three conventions that took place on the same weekend and since I had attended both California and Illinois for their last convention I decided to attend the third convention that weekend, which was held in Rhode Island. What a great affair that was, and in conjunction with their convention it was also a celebration of Division 1 Newport RI 135th anniversary of their founding. Meeting many of their group of energetic, young and vibrant division members was awesome. They have over 600 members in their division and are active in not only the Irish community but the whole city community as well. I often wonder when someone says they cannot get any new members to join their divisions when they have thousands more people than this area does why they cannot expand. There are places in our country with many more people in their state than Rhode Island has and yet a few divisions in RI has more members than states with millions of people to chose from.

I had heard that a great Hibernian was in hospital and not doing too well, so I went to visit him. Al O’Hagan, who has been a Hibernian all of his life, as was his father before him, was in Pennsylvania Hospital so I decided to see how he was doing. I met this man many years ago and many of you who do not know Al personally, will recognize him from past conventions but especially if you took your major degrees with his team. I am happy to report that Al is doing better and on the mend at home in Deptford, New Jersey. Get well soon Al and we will see you at Turningstone next year.

The Irish Fall Festival, run by Division 1 Cape May County, NJ, has come and gone again in my second home in North Wildwood with over 200,000 people attending this year’s festivities. Over 100 vendors from all around the country were selling their wares and a minimal number of offensive materials were on display. The goal of the festival is to have a zero tolerance for anything being sold that is degrading or offensive to our race.  With such a large crowd and so many vendors it is hard to police the entire area but I must say that they have done a tremendous job over the years to curtail much of the garbage that is sold by many merchants all over our country. We must be vigilant of the materials being peddled by unscrupulous people who do not care who they offend. The weekend started with the boxing matches, 10 bouts, between a boxing club from Belfast and a club from Philadelphia. The Irish team again excelled and won more than half the bouts. The bagpipe competition took place on Saturday and although the knats and bugs chased many people away, the clubs continued to entertain the crowd. Sunday morning started with a Mass at St Anne’s, as it does every year for the past 20 years, followed by the parade, the largest in the county. I was honored to be in the company of the Grand Marshal, Jon Cavaiani, a Medal of Honor recipient, and a person who I was proud to be with that day. Although the name is not Irish, Jon was born in Ireland, immigrated to America as a child, and was adopted by the Cavaiani family and took their name. He was a POW in Vietnam for more than a year and is a Hibernian brother in Division 88 in Philadelphia.

On a personal note, it was a very busy October for me starting with the wedding of my youngest daughter, Bronagh, on October 1st to a great guy, John Zadnik. Relatives from Ireland, 11 of them, descended on Philadelphia for the wedding and the following weekend for my testimonial dinner. As I said at the dinner in my remarks, “they are like grandchildren, I love to see them come but I also love to see them go,” and that works both ways when we go back to visit them. All kidding aside, it is always great to see family and the people at the dinner really made them feel at home and for that I thank you.

The National Board meeting and the Testimonial Dinner went well and an overflow crowd again attended and all enjoyed themselves to the music of the Willie Lynch Band. The weekend started with the golf outing, which was enjoyed by all who participated, but many scores were questioned and many participants were questioned also about what kind of golf they were playing. The club visit was well received, although we did hear a few complaints that it lasted too long, and we apologize for that. The National Board meeting went very well and reports from almost every officer and chairman were given, with a special presentation given by the chairmen of the Commodore Barry Project, Jack O’Brien and John McInerney, and by FFAI Chairman Sean Pender, who showed his PowerPoint presentation on FFAI.

The weekend saw a total of about $18,000 raised for the Barry Memorial. The dinner committee’s decision — to donate to the Barry Project in the name of the attendees rather than give them a favor — was a great idea and one that I wholeheartedly endorsed. The 175 Anniversary Journal was distributed at the dinner and I have never seen such a beautiful Journal in my life. The work that Mike McCormack, Chairman of the Journal and our National Historian, and Tom O’Donnell did on this Journal was unbelievable, they really outdid themselves with this gem. It is definitely a treasure to hold onto for your children to learn about Hibernianism and their Irish History.

The recipient of the Sean MacBride award, Clara Reilly, who was most deserving of this prestigious award, made a rousing speech to the audience. Her family and friends flew in from Ireland and shocked her by attending the dinner. She is so deserving of the accolades she received and the standing ovation. What a tremendous woman. So many people were amazed at how long Clara has been involved in the fight for justice, what she went through and family she has lost, but as she said, it is not over yet — nor will it be — until justice is done for all the people.

I would like to thank my entire committee, especially Nancy Cullen, who did all of the work on the dinner, Ed Dougherty, Tom & Peg O’Donnell, Joe Byrne, Louise Donnelly, the vocalist at the Mass, our National Chaplain and Deputy Chaplains for celebrating and concelebrating the beautiful Mass and all the others who helped make the weekend a huge success. And thank you to those who sponsored holes at the golf outing and took ads in the Journal. I would be remiss if I did not thank all the people who presented me with gifts, proclamations and those who donated to the Barry Memorial in my name, especially the AOH & LAOH both locally and beyond, and the Irish Society of Philadelphia.

I also want to thank and recognize all those people who helped with the entire celebration of our 175th Anniversary since the beginning of the year, especially our chairman, Ed Wallace. Thanks to Tom Beirne and the entire committee who worked so hard to make the New York weekend the success that it was.  Mike McCormack, Patrick Allen, Consul General Noel Kilkenny and Vice Consul General, Jacqueline O’Halloran- Bernstein, who attended the dinner, and thank you for your remarks that night. To the owners and bartenders of the Black Sheep Restaurant in NY for their hospitality, all the musicians, especially the Hibernian Festival Singers at the Mass, the priests and all the others who participated in the Masses, the Basilica and St. Peter’s church for letting us use the facilities and for all who helped in any way, I thank you all as we wind down our 175th Anniversary Year 1836-2011.

I want to wish you all a very Joyous and Holy Christmas season and may you have a Happy and Prosperous 2012.

President’s Message

Brothers, since our last Hibernian Digest issue we have been busy attending conventions, picnics, festivals and other Hibernian functions. As you know by now we have a new editor for the Digest, John C. O’Connell from Glen Cove, NY. All future submissions should be sent to him at editor@hiberniandigest.com I was sad to accept the resignation of Keith Carney but it is a very time consuming and difficult job to do.

I attended the New York State convention in Pearl River where I met many of the delegates and friends whom I have been friends with for many years and again met some new friends and was delighted to partake in many of the meetings and festivities. It was at this convention that Brendan Moore and I interviewed the new editor and before the convention ended he had accepted the appointment. I want to congratulate Michael McNabb and his new slate of officers who were elected and wish them well over the next two years and thank Chip McLean for his service to the state and the AOH in general over the past two years.

I then attended the Pennsylvania state convention in King of Prussia where the delegates worked harder than ever to accomplish what they wanted to do with one day less in their schedule. This is the first PA state convention on a two-day schedule rather than a three-day schedule, which was due to the economy and to save the delegates one day in the hotel and one less entertainment function to attend. According to all accounts from the boards, everything worked out well and all business was conducted in the two days. Congratulations to Tom O’Donnell who will lead Pennsylvania for the next two years, and I thank Denny Donnelly for his service for the past two years. Good luck to both of these fine gentlemen.

I attended the Maryland convention in Cumberland, MD, which is near the West Virginia border and a beautiful part of the country. I had never been there before and it was a beautiful hotel and surroundings. The convention went well with the business of the state being conducted and again meeting new friends and renewing friendships with people I have not seen in many years. As I was reminded by one of these friends, Leo Welsh, we are the old guys now and that is what we used to call other people not too many years ago.

One thing that really impressed me at all these conventions is the enthusiasm of the members over the Commodore Barry Memorial and the presentations put on by our National Board chairmen. Sean Pender, Freedom for All Ireland Chairman has a PowerPoint presentation that explains the FFAI in a way that everyone understands and, without exception, every convention I have attended people say we did not know all this information that Sean just showed us.

The LAOH are especially thankful to Sean for his presentation of who we donate to, how much, why, what it means to the recipients and how thankful they are to receive it. If anyone wants to get a copy of this presentation, please contact Sean and show it at your meetings.

Danny O’Connell has put together a terrific PowerPoint presentation on organizing and retention of members. It gives members the different ways to attract members, keep them when you have them and how to keep them active in a division. It explains how to recruit new members and, as Danny says, don’t worry about new divisions, get the members involved and the new divisions will follow.

Dan Dennehy has spoken at many conventions and his knowledge on immigration and the undocumented Irish is invaluable. He is available to send you information or answer questions on these subjects at any time and he can be reached by email at dandennehy@hotmail.com

Brothers we are very lucky to have such committed men like these on our board and I can assure you that all our elected and appointed officers are working hard and keeping the best interest of the AOH at heart for you the members.

On a final note I want to ask you to work as hard as possible to make a dream come true. Jack O’Brien and John McInerney, two members from the Washington D.C. area, have been working tirelessly for many years on honoring Commodore John Barry. I met with these two gentlemen shortly after I was elected national president in 2008 and appointed them both as the National Board co-chairmen of the Commodore Barry Memorial Project. I attended meetings with them and after being denied permission, these two men re-submitted and changed the memorial and began a letter-writing campaign in favor of the memorial. The Naval Academy‘s Superintendent received so many letters of support for the memorial from Senators, Congressmen, Governors, retired Naval Officers, clergy, Organizations and individuals that the Academy finally took them seriously. In August of 2010 a delegation met with representatives of the Naval Academy and verbal permission was given. On January 11, 2011 (1/11/11) final approval was given for the gate and memorial for Commodore John Barry.

I attended the fundraiser for the Barry Project in Baltimore on August 13th and although it rained most of the day it was a huge success. Divisions from Maryland and Washington D.C. did a tremendous job of putting this day together. John McInerney and Jack O’Brien were very much appreciative of all the people who attended including Ned McGinley, Keith Carney, Jere Cole from the National Board, Gerry & Kathleen Murphy from Division 39 Phila. Margaret Hennessey from the LAOH, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick from Philadelphia and people from other parts of the country, and all donated checks to the Barry memorial. The total raised for this day was in the region of $15,000 and a check was given to these two men to be delivered to the Naval Academy representatives along with a letter signed by Ned McGinley President of the Hibernian Charity, John, Jack, Bob April and myself. This check will pay for the erection of the Barry Gate, which is phase 1 of the Barry Project and hopefully will be completed by the end of October this year. The remaining money must be raised before we can start phase two, which is the memorial itself in the Barry Plaza. We are well on our way to making this a reality with well over $50,000 already raised or pledged.

Brothers, I leave you with this quote, please do your part: “Brothers, noble causes make for generous hearts. Let none of us lose this golden opportunity to educate future generations of Naval and Marine officers of the contributions of our noble Irish heritage in the foundation of our nation. Commodore Barry made great contributions to our freedom. Do not let this opportunity pass us by due to lack of funds. Show your Irish pride and please contribute generously.”

Brothers, please remember the National Board Meeting, National President’s Dinner, Sean MacBride Award Presentation in Philadelphia on the weekend of October 7-9th

President’s Message

Brothers, the summer is here and we are all getting ready for conventions, vacations or both.  Officers of the National Board and I are trying to make arrangements to have a presence at all state conventions, so please notify me of when and where your convention will take place.

I hope everyone got a glimpse in the last Digest or on our website, of what the celebration for our 175th anniversary was all about in New York. The last digest actually went out a few days after the celebration so our space was limited but a brief story of the events with some pictures were included. This current edition will give you much more detail of the events which took place that weekend.

Since the last edition of the Digest there have been numerous events throughout the country and beyond. Ireland has really been in the limelight for a number of reasons starting with the visit of the Queen who came up a bit short on an apology to the Irish people. The atrocities of Bloody Sunday 1920 when the troops stormed a Gaelic Football match in Croke Park and opened fire on the players and the spectators killing 14 innocent civilians. On another Bloody Sunday, which most of you are familiar with, on January 30th, 1972 British Paratroopers open fire on a peaceful civil rights march in Derry killing another 14 innocent civilians and this was the same paratroop regiment who only a few months previously, August 1971, opened fire in Ballymurphy, a Catholic area of Belfast, killing 11 innocent civilians including a Catholic priest who was waiving a white flag on his way to give one of the wounded the last rights. These are just a few of the atrocities which she should have apologized for.

I was interviewed by the Belfast Telegraph newspaper on the thoughts of the Irish American community on their feelings on her visit. After consulting with other Irish Americans, I told the reporter that the feeling was while it could be a start to the healing process it was also a sad time to remember the above blatant attacks on our nation. There were mixed emotions and we as Irish Americans always look at what can happen as well as what has happened and hope that God will open the eyes and hearts of the British Government to do the right thing now or in the near future and admit to the murders, collusion and genocide of the Irish people from the Great Hunger of the 1840’s to the present.

President Obama visited his ancestral home in Moneygall, Co Offaly, where he was greeted with a real Irish welcome. Shortly before he departed we had a chance to ask him to bring up some subjects which we as an organization are very familiar and involved with. I sent President Obama a letter outlining our concern on matters of Immigration, the plight of the undocumented, The Dublin/ Monaghan Bombings the Finucane and Rosemary Nelson murders and numerous other unsolved murders linked to collusion by the British Government over the past 35 years and the full implementation of the Good Friday agreement.  I asked that he bring up these questions to the Irish Government on behalf of the Irish American people. A few days before he left for his trip we did have an opportunity to sit in on a conference call to the White House on these concerns and others and the AOH leadership was a very important part of this call. Similar calls will take place in the future and we will play an active role.

Also very prominent in the news recently was the terrific win in the US Open by a young man from Hollywood, County Down, Rory McIllroy. What a boost for Ireland as the eyes of the world were on this young man of 22 for at least 3 days and to see him break all kinds of records  and to be so uplifting was a great moment for him and Ireland.

Shortly after the last Digest was distributed many of our officers were invited to the Irish Embassy for a reception for the new Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, and it was an informative and pleasant meeting. Next week a group of our officers have been invited to a luncheon with the Irish Ambassador, Michael Collins, at his residence in Washington, DC. While we are there we have plans to meet with many of our political friends to discuss issues pertinent to our organization. Our main objective in speaking to them is having them introduce legislation on a United Ireland. Many of the other politicians we will meet with will be for discussion on other topics such as immigration reform, undocumented and many other subjects.  Our meeting with the Ambassador will include how we can help the undocumented and how the Irish Government can help us with the immigration problem and the economy of Ireland and how we can help each other.

It was great to visit Pittsburgh, PA for the State president’s dinner. It was really a good time and a deserving president, Denny Donnelly, was showered with presentations from both the men and women Hibernians from across the state. Due to this dinner I was unable to attend the NJ State Convention but the national board was well represented there with Dan Dennehy, Dan O’Connell and of course National Director for the area Jere Cole.  Jere Cole finished up his four years as president and now at the helm is Sean Pender. Jere has done a terrific job for the Hibernians in general and for the state of NJ and he will be for Sean if he needs any help. Thanks to Jere and good luck to Sean and his new board.

Due to family commitments I was unable to attend the MA state convention but yet again at least three of our national board members were in attendance to see a new president, Dick Wall, elected to follow in the footsteps of a great president before him Dick Thompson. Thank you Dick for your years of service as MA State President and good luck to Dick Wall on your term of office. I know you and your board will get all the help you need from your outgoing officers.  The state of Michigan has also elected its new president, Pat Sturdy, to follow long time activist and state president John McInerney and I am very confident that MI will continue the good work that has been going on there for years. Missouri was the first of the states to hold their convention and it was evident that the enthusiasm around hosting the 2014 National Convention was the main topic. George Clough and the entire state have been working very hard on making this convention one of the best in many years. Good luck to the newly elected president John Wilson and a thank you to the outgoing officers for a job well done.  I was very happy to be part of the proceedings at Waterbury, CT at their state convention where Bill Flannery took over the reins from outgoing state president Bob O Sullivan. I know the state will be in good hands for at least another 2 years under the leadership of Bill and his board and a thank you to Bob and his board for serving the state of CT so well for the past 2 years.

As I stated at the beginning of my column the 175th anniversary was definitely the highlight of my term in office.  The work undertaken by the co chairmen, Ed Wallace, Past National President and Tom Beirne New York County President, was monumental. They put together an amazing weekend starting with the reception at the Consul General’s residence on Friday evening followed by a welcome celebration sponsored by the owners of the Black Sheep Bar/Restaurant. The parade on Saturday morning following the original route taken by Hibernians 175 years before, followed by a magnificent  mass celebrated by Monsignor Sakano, from Old St Patrick’s Basilica and a tremendous homily by our National Chaplain Fr Thomas O’Donnell.  After the mass an all day party attended by hundreds of Hibernians and friends took place in the Basilica courtyard with music, food and entertainment.  Patrick Allen, who was part of the committee, was responsible for coordination this festival and what a tremendous job he did. On Sunday morning we attended another mass at St Peters church, the oldest parish church in New York. Following the mass we laid a wreath at Ground zero to commemorate all those who died on September 11th including all the Hibernians who died there. We then marched past the ground zero construction site to the great Hunger Memorial in Battery Park to lay another wreath to commemorate all those who died in An Gorta Mor. Sunday was a somber day for all of us who attended and put a final touch to our weekend of remembrance. I would like to thank all the people who made this weekend possible and without the entire committee it never could have taken place. Great job everyone.

The final celebration of our 175th anniversary will take place at the National Board meeting/President’s Dinner in Philadelphia on October 7th – 10th 2011. I ask all of you to ask your divisions, county boards and state boards to write a short history of your entity and place it in the 175th Journal. This does not happen often and many of us, I suspect, will not be around for the next celebration but our history will be if you take the time to write your story now or sponsor a page of history of the AOH written by our Historian, Mike McCormack.  All the information is available in this Edition; do not let this moment pass. Do it today.