Staten Ireland at the Fair

The Irish celebrated in Richmond County, NYC, on June 8th at the 15th Annual Staten Ireland Fair held on June 8th, 2013.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan celebrated Mass at the Fair, hosted by Richmond County AOH Div. 4, to benefit the St. Columcille Irish Cultural Center of Staten Island, and was dedicated to the memory of William “Ringo” Reilly, one of the founders of both the Fair & the Cultural Center and a Past County President.

By Patrick Glynn Jr., Sentinel, Richmond County Board

 

Project St. Patrick

Project St. Patrick is a joint Catholic Action program of the AOH and LAOH. Its purpose is to support seminarians and women religious both spiritually and financially as they prepare for their vows. Contributions from the Memorial cards are given to these young future leaders of our Church in the form of scholarships and grants for continuing education and retreats. This year with $35,000 in your donations, you helped 129 young men and 13 young women with grants. Here are some of the blessed recipients.

One young man said he needed new reading glasses for his classroom studies. Some need aid to pay for gas as they travel around the parish in beat up cars. Some need prescriptions for personal health needs. They are older now, a lot with good undergrad degrees like Colleen who went to Notre Dame and is getting her Masters in Theology in Montana. Many come from Africa, Philippines,  Poland … and have no family nearby to help them with their needs or support. They are the gift to us, and we should be helping them to build up our Church.

Can we do more to help these future leaders? Send a Memorial card to a dear one and help the building up of our Church at the same time. Thanks so much for your donations.

LAOH and AOH Chairs Lynn Burkart and Ed Wallace

National Convention Change

National President Moore has appointed me as the Board liaison to the ST. Louis Convention Committee.  I have been working very closely with the Host Committee Chairman National Director Judge Jim Wahl.  We had a problem with the hotel that was slated to be the site of the 2014 Convention.  Because of construction problems there that would not be resolved before our Convention we have moved the Convention to the Renaissance Grand hotel a Marriott property.  It is located in downtown St. Louis. The National Presidents of the AOH and LAOH have visited the hotel and were very impressed by the facility.

The Committee is now hard at work planning for a great Convention.  It will be the Fourth held in St. Louis. The last in 1960 and before that 1888 and 1904.  It is the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the City and many events are planned as the Gateway to the West celebrates its heritage.  If we are lucky the Cardinals will be in town and of course something will be worked out in conjunction with the team.  All the Convention information will be in the next issue of the Digest and a web site will also be up and running.  So plan to meet us in St. Louis starting on July 30 and ending with the final banquet on August 2.

 

George J. Clough, Jr., Past National President

 

Commodore John Barry Memorial Project at the United States Naval Academy Dedication Day – May 10, 2014

Commodore John Barry Memorial Project

at the United States Naval Academy

Dedication Day – May 10, 2014

 

        The Commodore John Barry Memorial at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, will be formally dedicated in joint ceremonies by the Hibernians and the US Naval Academy on Saturday, May 10, 2014.

 

 

Circle the date on your calendar or record it on your iPhoneMay 10, 2014 – Barry Memorial Dedication Day, USNA

 

 

Who is invited?  All contributors, Hibernians, and supporters are invited to celebrate the dedication day on the grounds of the US Naval Academy.  Bring your family.  An ice-breaker will be hosted at the John Barry Pub at O’Callaghan’s Hotel on Friday evening, May 9th.  Dedication Day will start with Mass, followed by the dedication ceremony and lunch.

 

 

Dedication Hotel Headquarters:  O’Callaghan’s Hotel in Annapolis will be our official Barry dedication day headquarters.

The AOH negotiated a special rate of $135.00 per night for those attending the ceremonies.  The hotel is filling up fast.

So why not book your reservation today by calling (410) 263 – 7700.   To secure our special rate, the rate code is AOC-John Barry.

 

To relieve traffic congestion, we urge groups to come by van or rent a bus.  Why not start making your plans today?

 

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Commodore John Barry Memorial Project, Ancient Order of Hibernians

Jack O’Brien          Seamus Boyle       Joseph Roche      John McInerney

(301) 758 – 0738    (215) 820 – 1547     (410) 322 – 6567   (202) 213 – 2055

 

E-mail contact for public relations: McInerneyVerret@aol.com

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!!).

 

 

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.

 

Immigration

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 dandennehy@hotmail.com  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

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 paddyspeed@yahoo.com

 

 

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. 

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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 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.

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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 http://www.nyaoh.com  (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 http://www.aoh.com.  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 http://www.poetryabouttheirish.com 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 http://www.shamrockandclover.com.

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

Brothers:

 

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