By Phil Gallagher
After the harshest winter in living memory, spring weather finally arrived in Connecticut. However winter took a toll on our ranks as three prominent Hibernians passed on to their eternal reward during the frigid days of February. We in Connecticut still mourn the loss of Past National LAOH President, Sheila Clifford of Waterbury who is the only Connecticut woman to ever serve as LAOH National President.
We also mourn the loss of Edward McGuiness and Patrick McBennett from Norwalk. Both men devoted many hours working for the AOH. After serving as Division President in Norwalk, Ed McGuiness served a term as State President while Pat McBennett move up from Norwalk Division President to head the Fairfield County board. May they all rest in peace!
Kentucky Derby Day will have come and be long over the finish line when these words are read but it is worth noting that the annual race has become a festive yearly fundraiser for the Hibernians of Danbury, Stamford and Meriden where they all have fun wearing the funny hats while putting money in the till!
Speaking of Meriden, we would like to offer belated congratulations to Scott McNulty for serving as the 2015 Grand Marshall of Meriden’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade! It is also reported that the Meriden sponsored Tony Kenny fundraiser was so successful that they may bring him back in December for his Christmas Concert.
Meriden will be hosting once again the Connecticut Biennial State AOH Convention on July 10, 11, 12. Frank Kearney Jr. will have given a full report on what is planned and required at the State Board meeting, presided over by State President John Weihn in Waterbury on May 16, 2015. By the time this column is read most delegates should have already made their plans and reservations to attend.
Stamford Hibernians showed their charity recently by hosting a tip night to benefit the Bennett Cancer Center in memory of popular Hibernians Bill and Felicitas Cody who left us too soon due to this insidious disease. Danbury Hibernians showed similar generosity by hosting a tip night on May 8, 2015 for the benefit of popular and talented Wendy Mitchell of the LAOH who is being treated for a virulent form of breast cancer.
The 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising is still a year away but Connecticut Hibernians are already planning for the centennial or raising awareness of the significance of this epic milestone.
State Board and Waterbury Freedom For All Ireland Chairman Joe Flaherty and his committee commemorated the 99th anniversary of the Rising on April 18th with ceremonies held appropriately at the AOH Celtic Cross monument at Old St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Waterbury.
Past National Director Jim Gallagher gave a public lecture entitled “1916 Uprising: Causes and Impact” at the New London Library on April 23 detailing how the Rebellion changed the course of Irish History,
The Fairfield County based Easter Rising 100th Anniversary Committee held their annual Mass & Commemoration for the 1916 Martyrs and the 1981 Hunger Strikers on Sunday April 19th at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Fairfield. This committee is not sponsored by the AOH but is made up of a number of Hibernians and is planning to unveil a memorial monument at the GAC in 2016.
Many communities in Ireland have annual Easter Commemoration Processions. One of the most impressive, which I had the honor of observing, is held each year in the Nationalist stronghold of Crossmaglen, County Armagh where local families parade in units carrying photographs of martyred family members who gave their lives for Irish Freedom since 1916. It was a moving scene, which I will never forget!