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.

National Organizer

Social Networking and Hibernian Divisions

Regardless of computer experience or expertise most people in the U.S. are well aware of Social networking online. This can be a key to continued success and growth of the AOH and I am happy to report several Hibernians are making the most of it today. Please take the time to find someone to bring your division into the electronic age. If you are already in the electronic age, congratulations for leading the way and setting higher standards. Create your division Facebook page and web page to allow communications among your members on many Irish American issues. Visit the Commodore John Barry page to see how our fundraising for the Barry Gate is going, or sign up for the AOH PEC page to receive regular updates from our PEC committee, or visit the 2011 Bloody Sunday Trip to lean about past tours as well as the upcoming FFAI tour in January 2012. Simply search AOH or Ancient Order of Hibernians on Facebook to get great ideas and to meet Hibernians from around the country as well as around the world.

The second most important item when creating a Facebook page and especially a web page is to keep it up to date. Lack of effort on the part of your Facebook administrator or webmaster can create a lack of interest in your site. The nice thing about Facebook is that, once created, all members can post items to keep it going, including numerous photos. Use electronic tools to help notify all the friends of your division about upcoming events and meetings. A Facebook page and web page are great complement to newsletters and call-posts for little or no expense.

Calling All Junior Divisions

As we begin to see a growth in college divisions, I get more and more questions about Junior Divisions. National Vice President Brendan Moore and I have recently updated the forms used in Junior Divisions and we are beginning to compile an accurate contact list of the Junior Divisions. I am asking that each Junior Division send me your contact information, including your parent division and contact for that division. We will be contacting you in turn to help us update the best way to grow and sustain Junior Divisions around the country. Additionally, we want every Junior division to send in articles to the Hibernians Digest sharing with us your success stories.

AOH Division / Sponsor Business Cards

On several occasions I have mentioned the concept of business cards each division can use, having the member place his name, telephone number and email address on the back. Brother Patrick O’Brian, president of St. Patrick Division 4, North Hills, Pittsburgh, has been using just such a card for their division. Their Division Business Card has a four color front with a black & white back that includes a watermark of the logo.

These cards are available from VisaPrint.com with pricing at $102 for 5,000 and $59 for 1,000 as well as several other combinations. What is great about the St. Patrick Division 4 card is the sponsoring member on the back. If you would like to use this card for you division, go to vistaprint.com, login using my email address and the password aohcards. Once you login, go to my portfolio where you will see the business card template. Simply change the text on the front to meet the needs of your division, follow the instructions and place your order.

Please make sure every member carries these cards with them as we all work to recruit one new member each year. Remember, we need you to recruit a new member today and at least one annually for the AOH to remain the largest Irish Catholic organization in the United States. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance to you or your division: djoconnell@ysu.edu or (330) 518-4450.

In closing, I am happy to report that we will have a recruiting video out to the membership sometime around the first of the year. This will also include a Project St. Patrick video and a FFAI video that we will ask you to show during your division meeting at the appropriate time of the year. If space allows, we will also include the various forms used annually, including the up-to-date application and the four-color brochure. Remember, contact me with you local division information and we can get you a customized electronic brochure. Thank you and God Bless, Danny O

Illinois News

The Illinois State Board welcomes Chicago’s new Consul General of Ireland for his first public event since arriving in the United States, the Illinois State convention. The back row of the picture includes John A. Donavan, State Treasurer; Tom Hoffman, Immediate Past President; John L. Martin, State President and Robert Simpson, State Vice President. Seated are Aidan Cronin, Consul General of Ireland and Danny O’Connell National Director. Not present for the picture was State Secretary Kevin Riordan.

Danny O’Connell presented two awards during the Illinois convention for divisions that donated ,000 or more to the FFAI Christmas Appeal. Receiving their framed Bloody Sunday Vindicated poster from O’Connell are Sean O’Dowd, President of Chicago Division #32, on the left, and Dann Haney, President of Peoria Division # 1 on the right. Congratulations to these divisions for continued great work on behalf of Freedom for All Ireland.

AOH Division 32 on Chicago’s Northwest side recently announced Fr. Daniel McCarthy, Division Chaplain for the past 10 years, as the recipient of their Ken Sullivan Hibernian of the Year award for 2011. The announcement was made following Fr. McCarthy’s celebration of Mass at our annual picnic at Bunker Hill on September 10. The award was given in recognition of his outstanding service to the organization and Fr. McCarthy was both surprised and extremely grateful for the award.

Fr. McCarthy recently retired after 44 years in the priesthood. He celebrated his retirement Mass at St. Tarcissus Parish in Chicago, where he has served as Pastor for the past 11 years. The Mass was celebrated with six Brother-Priest concelebrants and many friends and family members participating in the celebration.  A party was held following Mass with parishioners from St. Tarcissus and each of Fr. McCarthy’s other assignments in attendance.  Representation from Division 32 was also strong.

Fr. McCarthy was ordained a Deacon in June 1966 and served his Deacon internship at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, IL.  He was ordained to the priesthood in April 1967 after attending St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in suburban Mundelein. His first assignment was as Assistant Administrator for Angel Guardian Orphanage in Chicago. He also served at several other parishes including as Associate Pastor at Our Lady of Victory, St. Mathias and St. Tarcissus and Pastor at St. Timothy and St. Tarcissus Parishes.

Division 32’s Annual Picnic on September 190th was an enjoyable day with family and friends. Thanks to Picnic Chairs Pat Flaherty, Mike Hill and Ed Morley, Bernie Byrne and family for manning the grills and providing the Guinness, and the Lady Hibernians for their tasteful decorations. We also announced the winners of our five $500 scholarships for Catholic education from those grade school and high school participants in our Soup Kitchen, Misericordia Candy Day or other charitable events. The winners were Tom Hoffman Jr., Sean Moriarty, Pat Moriarty, Joseph Suerth and Cordelia Bella.

Division 32 again helped with the parking duties for Misericordia’s Annual Family Fest the day after our picnic. Misericordia cares for over 650 developmentally disabled adult and children at their facility on Chicago’s North side. This one-day event raises over $1,000,000 for the critical support Misericordia provides to those most in need. Since the event was held on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a moment of silence was observed at noon for those who died or whose lives were forever changed on that day.

Thanks also to Division 59 for hosting the Illinois State Convention in Alsip on September 17. The new State Officers were voted in and National Director Danny O’Connell spoke to the group about Membership. Aidan Cronin, the new Irish Consul General, also made his first public speech in his new role at the State Convention.

Indiana News

Our Lady of Knock Division #1, Indianapolis, has had and will have a full calendar of events September through December.  Members of the Division had a booth at Indy Irish Fest that proved to be a successful fundraiser.  Alice Davis presented slides of the trip to the 2011 Bloody Sunday Commemoration.  She, Jeane Russell, and Nancy Tindall Sponsel worked on seven presentations in the cultural center during the three-day festival.

Division Members were invited to participate at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in the celebration of the Mass before the Right to Life Chain, the first Sunday of October.  As they stood in the Life Chain holding signs against abortion, members recited the rosary.

A second fundraiser sponsored by the Division during October sold Celtic jewelry for holiday gifts.  At the October meeting, a fun Halloween party was planned by Eva Ricard and Stephanie Thibo.  The decorations were festive; the desserts fabulous, the games fun and the silly hats were great.  The Division members will volunteer at Franklin Library at a Halloween party for youngsters as part of the Indy Irish Fest Education and Outreach Project.  Children will make appropriate crafts and adults will learn interesting facts about Ireland.

Katie Tobin has been nominated to fill the Office of Missions and Charities.  Voting will take place at the November meeting.  The Division Christmas Party on December 7 features two of our members who will lead the carols.  Members will host a Christmas Tea at The Caring Place, an adult day care center of the archdiocese on December 9.

December 28, Feast of the Holy Innocents, will be celebrated with a Mass at the Cathedral followed by a luncheon.

 

Indiana News

Alice Davis

 

Our Lady of Knock Division #1, Indianapolis, Indiana is having a busy summer.   We kicked off with a power point presentation of the AOH Bloody Sunday delegation to Derry for commemoration and final march of that event.  We are sharing the presentation with other Irish organizations upon request.  The CD is a 17 minute program featuring the Collusion Wall in Belfast, The Bogside murals and museum and the Kilmainham  Prison  as well as a list of groups supported by the Christmas Appeal. If any group is interested in the program, they may contact Alice Davis:  Aliceanndavis@sbcglobal.net The CD is free.

The  OLK Book Club is reading The Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd.  The story takes place in the north, 1981 and is a study in contrasts.  It compares the ancient and modern commitment to love of people. It portrays innocence in a character from Wales and introduces discussion on the consequences of choice.

The Division is in full swing in preparation for our participation for Indy Irish Fest, our major fund raiser on September 16, 17 and 18. The Irish Fest Chairs are Mary Ellen Morris and Nancy Tindall-Sponsel.  The Group is also preparing for a celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Knock under the chairmanship of Joyce McMullen.  Beside the Memorial Mass for deceased  members, Joyce is also preparing for OLK garage sale.

Jane and J.J. O’Brien hosted the annual summer social  event celebrating and thanking members and guest for their continued support.  The garden setting, sharing of food was delightful and visiting with friends made for a delightful evening.

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.

FFAI

Pictured (L-R) National Director Jere Cole, New CT President William Flannery, CR President Emeritus Robert O’Sullivan, FFAI Chair Sean Pender

On May 18th the following words regarding the relationship between England and Ireland were spoken by the Queen of England at the historic state dinner held in her honor at Dublin Castle:

“…the relationship has not always been straightforward; nor has the record over the          centuries been entirely benign. It is a sad and regrettable reality that through history          our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss.       These events have touched us all, many of us personally, and are a painful legacy. We   can never forget those who have died or been injured, and their families. To all those who             have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts and       deep sympathy. With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we        would wish had been done differently or not at all.”

Less than a year earlier we had heard English Prime Minister David Cameron say “What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong….And for that, on behalf of the Government – and indeed our country – I am deeply sorry.”  Could it be the Queen’s remarks might continue us on the path of a truthful review of the legacy issues that still linger in the North?  These words brought hope and anticipation for further justice but the acts of the following days and weeks proved that they were just words without any real sincerity and no doubt well planned words spoken for effect only.

Consider the recent results of these three cases:

Rosemary Nelson was a prominent human rights lawyer in the North who was killed by a loyalist paramilitary group in 1999. Twelve years after her murder on May 23,, 2011 the results of the inquiry into her murder was released. At the release in the House of Commons, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Patterson said: “Mr. Speaker, those who are looking for evidence that the state conspired in or planned the death of Rosemary Nelson will not find it in this report.” It seemed as if Paterson hoped that people would only remember his opening statement and not read the results of the inquiry which concluded: “The combined effect of these omissions by the RUC (police) and the NIO (government) was that the state failed to take responsible and proportionate steps to safeguard the life of Rosemary Nelson.”  When questioned about the inquiry’s failure to use the word collusion in its conclusions, Rosemary Nelson’s brother aptly summed up the thoughts of so many when he said: “If it sounds like a duck and it walks like a duck, well, the chances are…”

A total of 34 men, women and children, including an unborn baby, died in the loyalist attacks on Dublin and Monaghan on May 17, 1974.  The queen actually arrived in Dublin on the 37th anniversary of that attack. On May 24th days after she left Ireland, the following statement appeared on the BBC regarding the Dublin government request to the British government to release all files related to the Dublin Monaghan bombings:

“The information supplied by the British government on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings is all the relevant information they intend to supply. Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny           made the announcement to the Dail (Irish parliament) on Tuesday. He said he did not   have the authority to instruct Britain to supply any other files they hold”   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-13532868

 

The Loughinisland massacretook place on June 18, 1994 in the small village of Loughinisland.  The attack killed six and wounded five. A loyalist paramilitary group attacked a crowded bar whose patrons were watching the Ireland – Italy World Cup match.  On June 23rd, 2011 the Police Ombudsman office report on the Loughlinisland Massacre stated:

Since the killings, 16 people have been arrested – some more than once – but there have    been no convictions. The report found that the car used by the gunmen was destroyed        when it should not have been, that records are missing, and that links between the killings and other atrocities in which one of the same weapons was used were not sufficiently           examined. It also reveals that the original senior investigating officer did not co-operate       with the new investigation. Ombudsman Al Hutchinson said: “These cumulatively             indicate a lack of cohesive and focused effort over the years. The families [of the victims]     have been failed.” But he continued: “While there is reason to be suspicious over certain         police actions, I consider there is insufficient evidence to establish that collusion took        place.”

http://www.thejournal.ie/police-failed-victims-families-while-investigating-loughinisland-massacre-162476-Jun2011/

 

So much for nice speeches by old women who doesn’t like Guinness, but the pity of the matter is that most people will only remember what the Queen said and not the above reprehensible and cowardly acts by her majesty’s servants after she left. Upon further review one could argue that the only portion of the speech that was forthright was her remarks stating that the English-Irish relationship “has not always been straightforward”

The legacy issues pertaining to truth in the North of Ireland are not being addressed and until there is a centralized vehicle that will truthfully address these issues we will continue to have a peace that is merely the absence of war in the North.  Until there is justice there will not be a peace that can serve as a foundation for all the people of the North of Ireland.  Actions not speeches are needed.

Notes:  Thanks to all who have sent congratulations regarding my recent election as NJ AOH State President.  Many thanks for the warm welcome and reception that I received at the Connecticut AOH and LAOH convention.  As part of the National Board contingent that visited Washington in June it was an honor to represent our members and speak to important AOH issues to members of the Senate, House and the Irish Ambassador.  Full details on 2011 Christmas Appeal should arrive in mail by early September to all divisions and boards and will be included in my next article.  Preliminary discussions are taken place regarding a tour of the North to once again coincide with the anniversary of Bloody Sunday and to present Christmas appeal donations, if interested please email me at paddyspeed@yahoo.com

Historical Happenings

In my 50 years as a historian, I have seen many errors and omissions in recorded history, and it’s not hard to recognize a common denominator.  Since my interest is Irish and American history, I easily recognize the anomalies in those areas.  This past February was designated Black History Month and no one was more delighted than I to see previously unknown stories make their way into the media.  I couldn’t wait for March, as it has annually been designated Irish Heritage Month since 1991by the President.  Not only did the media not pick up on it, but TV announced March as National Women’s Month.  What happened?  I saw black women profiled in February and hoped they would at least have the decency to profile some great Irish American women in March; but no!  To complain might brand me as anti-black or anti-women, but thankfully I had written positively on both Blacks and women in the past, so I can speak without fear of being shouted down as a bigot.  I can ask when did Selma, Alabama become ‘Bloody Sunday’ because a few demonstrators were beaten up and I can wonder how did we forget about the British Paras who killed 14 peaceful Irish demonstrators in Derry in 1972.  It’s not yet 50 years, but which was the bloody(er) Sunday?

I can praise the movie Glory for showing the courage of the all-black 54th Massachusetts regiment in the Civil War at the same time as I lament that no American company chose to feature the actions of the Irish Brigade.  The movie Glory is shown in school rooms (even though it is R-rated); the movie on the Irish Brigade has yet to be made – even though they won significantly more battles and lost many more men defending America.  John Bilby’s book Remembering Fontenoy noted, The Irish Brigade was, many said, the best brigade in the Army of the Potomac. Some said it was the best brigade in the whole Union army and perhaps the best infantry brigade on either side in the American Civil War.  Others, with the perspective of history, have come to believe it may have been the best infantry brigade that ever was. Am I imagining this, or are we being written out of history?

In 1971, the Center for Minority Studies at Northern Illinois University proposed to designate February as Black History Month with events and programs for the month-long celebration; today it is a source of pride among African Americans.  In 1978, the California Commission of the Status of Women petitioned for the week of March 8 to remember the contributions of women.  By 1987, it had become an unofficial month-long celebration, but now it’s beginning to replace the observance of Irish Heritage.  The common denominator is that these grass-roots movements grew as a result of the support they received from within their ranks.  Where is the support for Irish Heritage month.  Are we getting lazy or have we forgotten the tremendous effort of those who made this nation a welcome one for us.  We must keep our traditions alive, and the only way to do it is to learn about the trials, contributions, and achievements of our forefathers.  Send me your local stories, and let me share them with Hibernians across America; and when you appoint a Division, County, or State Historian, select someone who is more interested in doing the job than in having his picture taken with a Ribbon of Office around his neck.  One of those jobs should be to administer the State History Day competition in your local area.  We will be attending the National History Day competitions at the University of Maryland on June 12-14.  It is there we learn so much about the local Irish across the country.  How many know, for example, that George Washington Parke Custis (stepson of our first President) so appreciated the contributions of the Irish to the American Revolution that he asked that some Irish heart would place shamrock on his grave every St Patrick’s Day with the words “God bless him.”  Our congratulations to our Washington DC AOH who satisfy that request each year.   Send us your story.

A tip of the hat to Joan Quilligan, a former student of Capella University, who objected to a quote in a class book Human Development which noted that Irish wake amusements included dancing with the corpse!  Her complaint in June, 2010, to the school resulted in them referring her to the book authors, Broome Community College faculty members Thomas and Corinne Crandell who, in turn, defended the quote as having come from an article by author Robert Kastenbaum.  The diligent Ms. Quilligan contacted Mr. Kastenbaum who denied ever making the quote or even mentioning the Irish in the referenced work.  Subsequent contact with the publisher, McGraw Hill, resulted in the response that the quote had been incorrectly attributed and should have been to Irish Wake Amusements (1967) by Sean O’Sullivan, but it is nevertheless withdrawing the passage in question from future printings.  We dug up O’Sullivan’s book and found that the passage referenced was from a comparison of Irish wakes to primitive, pre-Christian wake traditions across Europe; specifically in Bohemia, in Prussia, in Denmark and in Sweden as the author noted.  His premise was that ancient wake traditions were to honor the deceased and show that death was only a trivial temporary separation and the treatment of the body was totally respectful.  The misquoted and wrongly attributed passage was totally taken out of context and provided yet another slanted addition to the ‘stage Irish’ image that we fight so hard against.  Ms Quilligan notes that she no longer attends Capella University because of this incident and their continuing bias. Now, that’s defending your heritage!  Thanks to Joan Quilligan’s year long effort, one more desecration has been laid to rest – and there’ll be no wake for this one!

Yet another hurtful presentation occurred in April with the airing of the Smithsonian Institute’s TV production of Senator James Webb’s slanted version of the building of America entitled Born Fighting. A complete review is on the AOH.COM website for May and in the Digital Digest.

Remember, it’s your heritage, Defend it!

President’s Message

Brothers, another edition of the Digest is upon us and I can’t believe where the time has gone since the last edition. I was pleased that I could attend an anniversary of the John Cardinal O’Connor Division 32 in Belmar NJ. The festivities were held in Doolan’s Shore Club in Spring Lake Heights NJ honoring Kevin Weldon and Bill Young both great workers for the AOH of New Jersey.

I left Spring Lake and went home only for a few hours and caught a train to Washington DC to attend the right to life march and to meet with the Irish Ambassador Michael Collins. The AOH was well represented with members from numerous states attending. Prior to the march, there was a breakfast at the Phoenix Park Hotel, sponsored by the AOH Divisions of DC and was very well attended also.

New Jersey State President and National Director Jere Cole and I met at the Irish Embassy with Ambassador Michael Collins. Over the past three years I have met with the Ambassador to get briefed on the state of Ireland on both sides of the border and Mr. Collins has been very appreciative of what the AOH has done and continues to do for Ireland. It is a great privilege for me to be able to sit down with him and tell him what we, as an organization, would like to see the Irish Government do for Irish America. He is also very interested in what the Irish Government can do to help the Irish American community and to find out what our needs and wants are. While I was there Mr. Collins set up a meeting in Dublin for our group who would be going to Ireland for the Bloody Sunday March at the end of January.

After the snow storms and cold in the Northeast I was glad to get to the warmer climate in Ireland, temperature in the 40’s, and made my way to Derry for the Bloody Sunday march.  On Saturday evening as usual the Mass was celebrated at the home of AOH Div 1, Derry, and again the hall was packed. Following the Mass, the distribution of the Christmas appeal checks were given to the recipients and many of those who received thanked the AOH and expanded on their organizations goals and plans for the future. It is really heartwarming to see how much these people appreciate our efforts and how happy they are to receive the help from our members in America.

Sunday, January 30th was the39th Bloody Sunday March, possibly the last march, but not the last of the remembrance of that day 39 years ago. Many of the families of those killed and injured, whom we have met over the years, have told us that if it were not for the AOH, they do not believe that the Saville Inquiry would have been completed. The people who attended from the states was somewhere between 70 and 100 and the crowd at the march itself was the biggest that ever marched. The weather was with us although it was cold but not as cold as the weather we left behind on the east coast. The remembrance at the memorial on Sunday morning was very well attended and a pastor from the local protestant church was one of the speakers. I had a chance to speak with John Hume (who is ill at the moment) and also Martin McGuinness, at the memorial in the Bogside and later in the day met up with Gerry Adams at the beginning of the march. The route of the march this year was the same route taken on the day of the march in 1972 and ended with a huge crowd and numerous speakers at the Guildhall Square where the march ended. Speaking with many of the people after the march it seems that even if it is discontinued, the people will still come and have the ceremony at the monument in the years to come. As one of the speakers said it is not finished yet, those killers in the parachute regiment have never been charged and when that happens it will bring closure.

I had made arrangements previously for a group on the tour to visit a new memorial in South Armagh honoring all our freedom fighters that lost their lives over the past 40 years in the war for freedom. What a tribute to these soldiers who gave their all to try to free our homeland. The vision of the people who were responsible for this beautiful monument should be commended for the hard work and dedication in erecting and maintaining it into the future. The backdrop of a mountain and some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere in Ireland makes this monument even more attractive as well as remembering all those who lost their lives in Ireland’s name. If anyone wishes to see and contribute to this monument you can go to www.southarmaghmemorialgarden.com Buy a brick for $50 and help defray the cost of this beautiful monument. If you need further information you can contact me.

After the tour I left Armagh and headed south for Dublin as I mentioned earlier in my report, Ambassador Michael Collins set up a meeting with Niall Burgess who is the Director General of The Anglo-Irish Dept of Foreign Affairs, at his office in Inveigh House in St Stevens Green in the center of Dublin. We met with Niall and some of his staff who brought us up to speed on the economy in Ireland, both north and south, as well as the Irish Government’s stance on issues such as immigration reform and other issues which we are also interested in. After meeting with our small group the rest of the tour were invited to a reception in the banquet room. Food and refreshments were provided as well as having the chance to speak with many of the other Government officials who were there. We also met with John Hennessey-Niland from the United States Embassy who assured us that his boss, Ambassador Rooney, would have been there but there seemed to be a conflict as he is the owner of the Pittsburg Steelers and he had a more important engagement that weekend, I believe it had something to do with the Super Bowl. We had a great meeting and tour of the building which was originally owned by the Guinness family. I would like to thank both Ambassador Collins and Niall Burgess for their hospitality.

I left Dublin after the tour to attend the kick off campaign of Gerry Adams in the Fairways Hotel in Dundalk County Louth where he is a candidate for the Dail. The hotel was packed to capacity and the speakers were tremendous. It was the first time I had heard the newly elected Pearse Doherty, Donegal, speak and what a dynamite speaker his is. The list of speakers kept the crowd on their feet most of the evening and if that crowd was any indication of the newly elected Government officials, then Gerry Adams is well on his way to Dublin. After 10 days in Ireland and a very busy schedule I was ready to come home, even if it was a lot colder in Philadelphia.

I attended Montgomery County annual communion breakfast where the guest speaker was William Watson, the man who is spearheading the Duffy’s Cut project. He showed a very interesting slide presentation including a narration on the 57 Irish Immigrants who are buried there in a mass grave, how he became involved in this project, why he is so involved in finalizing the fate of the 57 and what led up to his interest about the people who died there. I also attended a fundraiser at Immaculata University to help raise funds to see his work completed. The fundraiser was a complete sell out and the Irish Ambassador, Michael Collins, was in attendance and addressed the crowd.

In conclusion I attended a meeting in New York City at the Basilica of Old St Patrick’s to finalize the 175th anniversary celebration for May 21st 2011. The meeting was called by our chairman of the 175th anniversary committee, Ed Wallace. Approximately 15 people attended and most of the issues were resolved and will appear in this edition of the Digest. Anyone who plans on attending are asked to email shay39@comcast.net with the name and number of people attending and whether they will be there Friday night or Saturday morning as we need a head count for the reception afterwards.

A rough agenda for the festivities includes about a half mile parade that will begin at Mulberry St North of Canal St and march to the Basilica of St Patrick’s Old Cathedral, Mott & Prince St.  Mass in the Basilica at 11AM which will be followed by a reception in the adjoining Youth Center at the Basilica. As was mentioned in the last digest, we are asking all Division, County and State Boards to celebrate our 175th anniversary in your own areas throughout the year. This is the year for state board conventions and we ask that each convention celebrate the anniversary at their conventions; speaking about conventions, please let us know when and where your convention is so we can have a national board presence there if possible, please send this information to me at shay39@comcast.net.

Brothers, the next edition of the Digest will have all the St. Patrick’s Day parades, parties, news and the list of the States, cities and towns who celebrated Irish American Heritage Month. We will also see a list of people whom we had to inform of our displeasure with their so-called St Patrick’s season in bad taste. This does not stop at St. Patrick’s Day but people seem to think they can defame and make fun of the Irish and our Catholic religion, please let us know when you see this happen in your area so we can handle it appropriately. President Obama has proclaimed March as Irish American heritage Month once again and this marks the 10 straight years that March has been proclaimed Irish American Heritage Month by a United States President, Hope we can get it permanently this year.

Thank you and have a great spring and summer.

Organizer

Stepping off on Sunday January 30th 2011 as the Bloody Sunday families began the historic march of Vindication was yet another occasion when I was overwhelmed to represent each and every one of you as a member of the AOH National Board. From the political leaders, the men and woman on the street and the Family members, we were welcomed, blessed and thanked. Our support for our brothers and sisters in Northern Ireland has not gone unnoticed and the AOH played a vital role in this historic occasion. Thank you all who have continued to support the efforts of the AOH throughout the years especially those of you who have marched with the Bloody Sunday families throughout the years.

As this Digest hits our mail boxes St. Patrick’s Day will behind us and we will be thinking about Project St. Patrick, the opportunity for the AOH to demonstrate our support for the clergy by providing scholarships to our seminarians and religious. We know that the Order was formed to protect the lives of the priests who served our ancestors as they began their new lives in the United States of America. Now we have an opportunity to show support for those who prepare to serve our Mother Church and honor our AOH Chaplains for the work they do.  A 0 donation provides on scholarship which can be named in the honor of your local chaplain. What a wonderful way to thank your division, county and state chaplains. These scholarships can also be in the name of deceased brothers or anyone your division deems worthy. My local division continues to provide two scholarships a year; one honors our long time Chaplain Monsignor Thomas Kelly who passed away last fall and the other to honor our current Chaplain.

Organizing: in the academic world it is said publish or perish, in the world of fraternal organizations we recruit or perish. In each of my articles on organizing I discussed your role as the vital link to the success of recruiting which will in turn lead to the continued success of the AOH. Have you recruited a new member in the last six months? If not we need you to recruit someone new to your division this month. If you have, thank you! Remember it is now your role to help your new recruit become a successful Hibernian. Encourage your new recruit to attend the meetings and events of your division, encourage his participation in committees as well.

Retention in any organization leads to success. Just as it is critical for us to bring new blood into our organization we must also retain our current membership. As the Green season is behind us and the Convention and Festival season is just ahead of us I am asking every President, Financial Secretary and Organizer to lead your officers and members in an effort to renew every member who was on your roles at the end of 2010. Your goal for retention should be no less than 100%. Please make the effort during your next meeting.

Recruiting: In coaching, there are very few new ideas but rather many ideas that others have used that you can apply to your team in such a way that you become successful. Our goal in recruiting is to share those ideas and apply them to your local recruiting efforts. I continue to ask you to provide me with ideas, and innovations that I may pass along with others. Several divisions have told me they are using business cards to recruit. Pat O’Brien from St. Patrick Division 4, North Hills, Pittsburgh, has sent be a copy of the business card they use in recruiting. They printed 1500 for only $52.00. The front of the card is printed with the division information including local contact name, number, e-mail and website. The back has a place for the sponsoring member to write their name, number and e-mail. These can easily be handed out during parades and other events. It is my hope that each division will consider this as a recruiting strategy.  Once you have the business cards in place ask your members to get a business card or name, e-mail and telephone from those they hand the card to. Then your local organizer can send a follow-up note to encourage the recruit to join as well as an electronic brochure and application.

Please check WWW.AOH.COM on a regular basis. We are working with Webmaster Gene Burns to place short videos on the web page designed to assist you in recruiting. Currently we have videos related to Freedom for All Ireland. We will soon have videos related to Project St. Patrick, Hibernians Charities, and Irish Culture. This is intended to be a page you can direct new members to in order to learn more about the order. The AOH recruiting video, “The Way Home” is also located here. Additionally we will house all recruiting materials such as brochures and ads in this location. Please contact me with any recruiting needs as well as with your recruiting success stories. We are always looking to improve our recruiting material. God Bless, Danny O. 330-518-4450, DJOCONNELL@YSU.EDU