Tomhas na Teanga Eanáir 2013

Mar is eol do chách, bhí stoirm mhór againn in oirthuaisceart na tíre, san fhómhar. As everybody knows, we had a big storm in the northeast, in the fall.  Tháinig hairicín agus stoirm eile le chéile. A hurricane and another storm came together.  Agus tharla sin nuair a bhí lán mara ann agus gealach lán leis. And that happened when it was high tide and also a full moon. Mar sin, bhí na tonnta ag teacht i dtír, agus bhí tuilte uafásacha ann.  So the waves were coming ashore, and there were terrible floods.  Agus murab é sin olc go leor, cúpla lá ina dhiaidh sin thit sneachta trom.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, a few days later a heavy snow fell.  Is iomaí crann a thit mar gheall ar an drochaimsir go léir seo.  It’s many the tree that fell on account of all this bad weather.  Agus thit roinnt daoibh ar dhaoine, dá marú. And some of them fell on people, killing them.  Bádh daoine eile, agus tharla timpistí le gineadóirí agus timpistíbóthair agus mar sin de. Other people were drowned, and accidents happened with generators and there were traffic accidents and so on.

Chaill daoine a lán dá gcuid, agus rinneadh mórán damáiste. People lost a lot of property, and a lot of damage was done.  Buíochas le Dia, ní raibh cúrsaí chomh dona sin againne. Thank God, things weren’t so bad for us. Bhíomar gan leictreachas ar feadh dhá lá déag (ach amháin dhá uair an chloig sular thit an sneachta…saghas céasta ab ea é an leictreachas a chailliúint ar athuair mar sin!).  We were without electricity for 12 days (except for 2 hours before the snow fell…it was a kind of torture to lose electricity a second time like that!)  Agus leis sin, ní raibh teocht ná uisce te ná fón (ach fóin phóca) againn ach oiread.  And along with that, we had no heat or hot water or phone (except cell phones) either.

Tá umar iasc teochreasa againn.  We have a tropical fish tank.  Rinneamar ár seacht ndícheall iad a choimeád te go leor, agus a gcuid uisce glan, agus ocsaigin a chuir isteach san uisce dóibh.  We did our very best to keep them warm enough, and their water clean, and to put oxygen into the water for them.  Ach theip orainn iad go léir a choimeád beo.  But we couldn’t keep them all alive.  Cailleadh breis isleath díobh, de réir a chéile.  We lost more than half of them, a few at a time.  Ba bhocht an scéal é.  It was a badbusiness.  Cailleadh cúpla acu tamaill maith ina dhiaidh freisin, mar bhí an strus ró-mhór dóibh.  A few of them died a good while afterwards, too, because the stress was too much for them.  Ach ba bheag an rud seo, i gcodarsnacht leis na rudaí níos measa a tharla do dhaoine eile.  But this was a little thing, in comparison with the worse things that happened to other people.

Maraon leis na rudaí olca a tharla, bhí an t-ádh ag a lán daoine eile.  Together with the bad things that happened, other people were lucky.  Nó bhí aingil dá gcosaint.  Or angels were protecting them.  Mar shampla, thit crann rí-mhór a bhíodh ina sheasamh taobh le teach mo dheirféar céile.  For example, a really big tree fell, which used to stand next to my sister in law’s house.  Bhí baill dá teaghlach amuigh ag féachaint air tamaill beag sular thit sé, agus bhí siad ábalta éalú uaidh nuair a thit.  Members of here household were outside looking at it a little while before it fell.  Thit sé go díreach idir an teach agus an garáiste.  It fell exactly between the house and the garage. Scrios sé crann beag eile agus crann luascán, ach b’fhéidir leis an gcrann sin mórán damáiste a dhéanamh nach ndearna, agus táimid buíoch do Dhia faoi sin, cinnte.  It destroyed another small tree and a swing set, but that tree could have done a lot of damage that it didn’t do, and we thank God for that, for sure.

Gach lá, nuair a bhíomar gan leictreachas, bhímis ag fanacht leis na leoraithe a thiocfadh chun sinne a shábháil.  Every day, when we were without electricity, we would be waiting for the trucks that would come to save us.  Agus ag fanacht.  And waiting.  Is iomaí rabhadh bréige a bhí ann. There were a lot of false alarms.  Tháinig siad i ndeireadh na dála, is dheisigh siad na sreangacha srl.  They finally came, and they fixed the wires, etc.  Ansin, thit an sneachta, agus bhíomar ar bun an liosta arís.  Then, the snow fell, and we were at the bottom of the list again. Cúpla lá eile, agus faoi dheireadh, bhíomar slán compordach teolaí – agus glan – arís.  A few more days, and finally, we were safe, comfortable, warm – and clean – again.

Dóbair go raibh sé normálta againn, inár suí sa dorchadas san oíche, gan teilifís, gan ríomhaire.  It almost became normal for us, sitting in the darkness at night, with no television, no computer.  D’éisteamar leis an raidió.  We listened to the radio.  D’imríomar cluiche.  We played a game. Rinneamar caint lena chéile.  We talked to each other. Agus chuamar a chodladh go luath.  And we went to bed early.  Tagtar i dtaithí ar chúinsí ar bith, ar ball.  You get used to anything, eventually.  Ach táimid lán sásta ár saol mar a bhíodh a fháil ar ais, geallaim duit!  But we’re very happy to get back the life we used to have, I promise you!Tá léirthuiscint nua againn dá bhfuil againn anois, gan amhras.  We have a new appreciation for all we have now, without a doubt.

Rinne mórán daoine obair iontach ag cabhrú lena gcomharsana, agus cé nach rabhamar sásta go raibh an méid sin ama de dhíth, níl aon dabht ach go raibh na leictreoirí agus na hoibreoirí eile ag obair go dian chun gach rud a chur ina cheart.  A lot of people did wonderful work helping their neighbors, and although we weren’t happy with the amount of time needed, there’s no doubt that the electricians and the other workers worked very hard to make everything right again.  Bhí na póilíní agus na fir dóiteáin thar barr, freisin.  The police and fireman were terrific, too.  Go raibh maith agaibh uile, má tá sibh ag léamh!  Thanks to all, if you are reading!


Chaplain’s Message

As Hibernians and as Christians we celebrate the central Mysteries of our faith during this month of April.  Without the Death and Resurrection of Christ, our faith would have no meaning.  Christ, Our Redeemer, suffered and died for us to win salvation for each one of us.  By His Resurrection, Jesus truly proved that he was the Messiah. In His rising from the dead, Christ has given all of us the promise and hope that we will one day also rise to be gloriously happy with Our Father in the Eternal Kingdom.

The Resurrection of Christ is the most important event in the history of the world. As we contemplate this mystery of the Cross and Resurrection, we begin to see that pain, suffering and death will be transformed into new life. Our God, who is a God of life, has assured us that ultimately there is nothing to fear, not even death itself.

Our task as Christians is to believe, in spite of all that we see in the world around us — the pain and suffering of war, violence, the killing of the unborn, hunger and poverty. To hold this kind of unshakeable hope in the face of what we hear and witness every day may, to some people, be an act of insanity.  We may not have a reasonable argument for our position, for our hope. Instead of a logical answer, we have a person —Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.

Mary Magdalene also carried this hope in her heart.  Jesus had given her life back to her, and she, in turn, gave her life to Him as one of His most faithful and loving followers. When she comes to his tomb, the two angels ask her: “Woman, why are you weeping?” Are we being asked the same question? When Jesus rose from the dead, all of us rose with him. Jesus’ resurrection was the ultimate and final sign that life is stronger than death. We firmly hold and believe that death is not the end of who we are. Death is merely a stage that we go through. On Easter morning Jesus emerged on the other side of death into a new and eternal life. You and I have been given that same hope and promise.

On Easter Sunday in 1916 brave Irish heroes began the fight for religious and political independence of the Irish people after hundreds of years of oppression.  The news coming out of Northern Ireland during the past few years gives all Hibernians the hope that the efforts and sacrifices of all the brave men and women who have fought for independence have not been in vain. On this Easter Sunday let us pray that finally there will be a lasting and just peace in all of Ireland.  Let us also look forward to the day when there will be: One Island, One Ireland, with Justice for All.

With every blessing in Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity.


Deputy Chaplain’s Message

The two hardest things about writing a column such as this are deciding what is important enough to include and how to begin; now that I’ve started I just have to figure out what to include.

A few days ago I was woken up by the fire alarm, and upon arriving in the church was confronted with a man who was engulfed in flames, having caught on fire from the sticks used to light votive candles. This was one of the most horrific things I have ever experienced. I had to use a fire extinguisher to put out the flames and then tried my best to keep the man calm until the EMT’s, firemen and police arrived, a period that was three minutes in reality, but seemed like half an hour as it was taking place. Unfortunately, the man was severely burned over 60% of his body and, combined with the fact that he was 89 years old, it was unlikely that he would survive; I received the phone call Saturday morning informing me that he had passed away during the night. My prayers have been with him and his family since the fire and stay with them during this time of loss.

A question came up during the two days that he was in the burn unit, as to the decisions that needed to be made, such as life support and letting him pass away; fortunately a relative of the man, who is a priest, was able to guide his family’s decisions in the process. But not everyone is lucky enough to have a priest in the family anymore, and when these questions come up we Catholics can become confused as to how to proceed. As Catholics, as Christians, we believe in the Right to Life from the moment of conception to natural death, so the first thing we have to recognize is that it is not our decision to end life, that belongs to God. Placing a loved one on a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, when they are terminally ill, or their quality of life would be seriously diminished is allowed under Catholic Moral teaching. While we are to seek out ordinary measures to preserve life, we are under no obligation to agree to extraordinary measures, especially if they are only going to prolong the suffering of the person who is ill or injured. It should be remembered that the basics of life, food and water, as well as the warmth one can expect from being sheltered, are ordinary measures, and should never be withdrawn as care.

Certain people get confused when it comes to Catholic teachings on end of Life issues and what they see as Euthanasia. First, we should understand what is meant by Euthanasia, which comes from the Greek for Good Death, but is far from it in reality; Euthanasia is a pretty name for assisted suicide. According to our Faith, we are not to assist in suicide, nor are we to actively seek to end our lives or the lives of other human beings; however, the double-effect of care we give to a person can sometimes result in their death. Any nurse or doctor can tell you that someone who is terminally ill or injured will normally experience great pain, and it is the obligation of those providing care for a patient to relieve that pain. Without intending to end their life, health care workers will administer doses of pain killers, especially morphine, to alleviate the suffering of a patient; as the pain increases, the dosage of pain relievers need to increase, till eventually the side effect, or double-effect, of the pain relievers is the respiratory failure of the person. The intention was never to end life, but to relieve suffering; the resulting death was unintended.

Just as it’s difficult to begin a column, it’s also difficult to bridge into another subject. I was back in Ireland in January, for the first time in four years, and I enjoyed catching up with everyone, or almost everyone, and seeing all the changes that have taken place. There have been a lot of changes in four years, with the economy of the Free State tanking in the past couple of years, friends and children of friends are looking at immigrating to Australia, especially since the U.S. Immigration laws are strict and (yes, I will say it) prejudiced against the Irish. Back in Belfast I experienced a very different city than I remembered, though certain things never change. When I went back four years ago, I missed my old friend and neighbor, Harry McParland, as he had died a couple of years before, but this time I really felt the loss, as he was the one person who truly knew everything and would dispense advice that actually helped. Harry lived next door to me, in Balfour Avenue, just off the Ormeau Road, and was always friendly, always smiling, and always surprising us with who he actually knew. A former I.R.A. volunteer, his nickname was “Dirty Harry”, the stories I heard about him did not compare to this friendly, cheerful gentleman who reached out to everyone he met. I remember Johnny Taylor Jr., of the Ulster Unionist Party, coming into the Hatfield [pub] on a Sunday to listen to a traditional seisiún, only to have Harry call him by name and ask after his father with genuine regard; I often wondered if Harry wasn’t one of the men who put a few bullets into John Sr. years before. Harry was one of those people who understood everything that was going on in Belfast and beyond, the layers of politics, economics and religion unfolded for that great man.

Speaking of politics, I congratulate Gerry Adams for winning the a seat in the Dail, representing Louth, I am sure that Gerry Adams Sr., a friend of Harry’s, is looking down full of pride that his son has followed the path of political activism he began in the 1960’s.

President’s Message

Brothers, all the festivities of the Christmas season have passed and we look forward to the season of Lent which usually is followed by better weather for those of us in the colder regions of our country. Many places that have not been hit with snow for many years were snowbound and this curtailed numerous AOH events that had been planned.  Mother Nature has a way of giving us a reality check every so often.

As I reported in the last issue of the Digest I went for surgery on my knee and leg but unfortunately things did not go as planned and I will be returning to hospital on March 16th for a short procedure. I was disappointed that I will not be able to attend the celebrations at the White House on March 17th as I just received the invitation yesterday after returning from the doctor’s visit and making arrangements for admission to the hospital on March 16th but I need to attend to my health first. I have not been able to attend some venues as I am going thru therapy three days a week.

Over the past few months I have had the privilege of swearing in some new officers in various divisions in the area and was especially proud to swear in a new president in the Cape May County Division 1 and yet sad to see Jack Connelly step down as president of that division because of all the work he has done over the years to make it what it is today but I know that Mike McGuire will lead the division with the help and wisdom of his board.

In January I also received an invitation to the White House for a briefing on the immigration problem and an update on the situation in Northern Ireland at that moment. It was a very informative and interesting meeting where we got to meet many of the people involved. At that time it seemed that the devolution of policing was not going anywhere and even though the United States were involved in trying to salvage it this most important step seemed doomed but a few days after our meeting, with help from Sinn Fein, DUP and others, an agreement was reached and hopefully we will have overcome another hurdle in the long road to a United Ireland.

I did attend the March for Life in Washington on January 22nd and was so proud to see so many Hibernians, both men and women, attend. I attended the breakfast on the morning of the March and was delighted to hear many of the speakers including Matt Nelligan, our Pro Life Chairman, again get the people enthused. The AOH members from Washington again with the help of our AOH and LAOH right to life chairmen did a great job organizing the breakfast and our place in the March. Many of your elected and appointed officers attended this march and it seems that more and more of them are attending each year.

I had the sad duty to attend the funeral of one of our Deputy Chaplain’s, Father Edward Small, S.J., who passed away on January 18th following several months of rehabilitation at the Campion Center, (Jesuit Infirmary) in Weston, MA. National Secretary, Thomas D McNabb, past National President Edward Wallace, National Director Frank Kearney joined many of the local Hibernians from Connecticut and Massachusetts for a prayer service in the Campion Chapel and for the funeral mass the next morning. Fr. Small will be missed by the Hibernians not only on the National level but also on a division, county and state level where he held the position of chaplain on all four jurisdictions simultaneously.

It was a tremendous privilege for me to represent you, the members, as the “Gael of the Year” for the United Irish Counties Association of New York at their 106th annual banquet at Antun’s in Queens Village New York on January 29th 2010. To be in the company of Christopher Burke, the recipient of the Anna V McElroy Distinguished Service Award was a great honor for me. I would like to thank Joe McManus President of the UICA, Garrett Doyle, Mike Ryan, Mike Prunty and Malachy McAllister for their warm welcome and hospitality to myself and my wife and for the gracious ladies who made both of us feel at home and to the rest of the committee who saw to it that we were well taken care of. The crowd which attended was awesome and every county in Ireland was represented. It is organizations like this which we need to support to keep our heritage alive here in the states.

It has been a very busy month for me since I was chosen as the Grand Marshall of the Philadelphia St Patrick’s Day Parade. This is indeed an honor for me and my family. The Philadelphia St Patrick’s Day Parade is the second oldest parade in the United States which dates back to 1771, five years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and has been continuous for the past 240 years. The parade which will be held on the Sunday prior to St Patrick’s Day, (March 14th this year) starts with a Mass at 9AM at St Patrick’s with a light breakfast following and the parade itself starts at 11AM. In the past there have been over 150 units with over 20,000 marchers and thousands of spectators. This year we had to raise funds for the parade to cover expenses for police and other city functions which in the past have been free. This is for all parades in the city and has caused some organizations to abandon their parades but thankfully we have been able to save ours. At a fundraiser sponsored by the AOH/LAOH of Philadelphia County, a crowd of over 500 people attend to make sure we would continue our parade in honor of St Patrick. By the time you read this, St Patrick’s Day will be gone for another year but the people who defame and use the holiday to make money, no matter how they do it, will be still around and taking advantage of our heritage. No matter when you see someone or some company defaming us a nation let us know and we will try to enlighten them as to what is acceptable and what is not. Hope to see you all at the Convention in Cincinnati.