Virginia News

William Halpin - St. Columcille Lifetime Achievement Award

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY! Greetings to everyone from the Commonwealth of Virginia on this St. Patrick’s Day. On this day we set aside our problems and remember the joy in Life that comes from good company and the celebration of a great culture. St. Patrick’s Day is a time for fun and laughter, for showcasing the Best of the Irish and for demonstrating our pride in homeland and heritage. St. Patrick’s our life story is worth remembering during tough times for he himself faced and overcame great personal hardship that tested him to the limits. The family of the Gael gathers in his name all over the world, especially Ireland. We are a very lucky to have a large global Family.

Our Divisions are very busy with all their activities. We have one more New Division ready to be chartered in Alexandria by Past National Director Pat Troy (The Living Legend). We continue to have more and more St. Patrick’s Day Parades in Alexandria, Manassas, Virginia Beach/Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke, Sperryville and Fredericksburg. After having a few Parades we have grown and continue to add more Parades in our Communities promoting our Irish Heritage and Culture. On March 14th we had our 32nd Annual Gaelic Mass in Honor of St. Patrick sponsored by Col. John Fitzgerald Division #1 Arlington at St. Charles Catholic Church. The Gaelic Mass Chairman was Past State President Jim Carmody. The Celebrant for the Mass was Reverend Gerald Creedon from County Cork, Ireland.

Pictured (L – R) State President Rich Aleksy, Terry Riley - 2010 Hibernian of the Year, State VP Chuck Curran

On December 12, 2010, a cold, rainy day not unlike December 12, 1862, the Thomas F. Meagher Division participated in the Annual wreath laying ceremony at the Kirkland Memorial on the Sunken Road in Frericksburg, VA. It was here that General Thomas Meagher’s Irish Brigade repeatedly assaulted across the plain below Marye Heights, losing approximately 550 Officers and Men. Ironically, Confederate defenders included Cobb’s Brigade commanded by Antrim-born Colonel Robert McMillan and the Lochrane Guards, an Irish infantry company from Macon, Georgia. As McMillan and his men viewed the 28th Massachusetts’ green flag advancing “Oh, God…here comes Meagher’s fellows” was heard along the confederate line. It was at Fredericksburg that General Robert E. Lee allegedly referred to the “Fighting 69th”, a moniker that has endured into that New York National Guard unit’s deployments to Iraq. Through that cold December night in 1862, Confederate Sgt. Richard Kirkland heard the moans and cries of the Union wounded. This American soldier of sublime compassion climbed over the stone wall and brought water to his wounded foes. Fighting men on both sides of the line called him “The Angel of Marye Heights”. The memorial commemorates this act of compassion during the heat of the Battle. The ceremony was highlighted by an informative talk by keynote speaker Frank O’Reilly the National Park Service Ranger/Historian and author of The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock. The ceremony concluded with laying wreaths and the playing of Taps.

On February 12th during our Quarterly State Meeting hosted by Father Edwin Kelley Division we honored two of our Outstanding Brother Hibernians. Virginia State Board honored Brother Terry Riley, recipient of the 2010 Hibernian of the Year, from Lt Col. Dowd Division and Brother William Halpin, recipient of the St. Columcille Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations to both. Attached are the pictures of the presentations by our State VP Chuck Curran and myself.

On January 22nd the Major Dooley Division held their Annual wreath laying ceremony of their namesake Major Dooley. Major James Henry Dooley was the son of Irish immigrants John and Sarah Dooley. He was born in Richmond, VA, one of nine children. His Father, John Dooley, Sr. was a successful hat manufacturer. The Dooley Family was prominent in the community and the Parish of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. After the wreath laying ceremony Dr. Lynn Baylis took the group on a walking tour of the Italian Garden. The Dooley’s brought back a Gazebo on a ship from a vacation in Italy.