The Daniel O’Connell O’Donoghue Division (Div. 1), Portland, Maine is very happy to welcome a new AOH division in the state of Maine. Another Division has been created in North Whitefield, ME, the home of St. Denis Catholic Parish, created by Irish immigrants and Father Denis Ryan in the 1820s. Robert King has been nominated the first president. Welcome aboard!
Portland’s Division 1 has been quite active in recent months, including hosting their 11th Annual Mass at the Catholic Ground in Western Cemetery in Portland (August 15). In 1999, the division erected a black marble monument there to commemorate An Gorta Mor (the Great Hunger), 1845-1851, and to memorialize the Catholic Ground, where 1200 of Portland’s early Roman Catholics were interred, most without headstones. Of these 1200, most were Irish emigrants or their children. Many were also Civil War veterans and casualties on the railroad.
On November 1, 2010, the division participated in an Open House at the Maine Irish Heritage Center (the old St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, dedicated 1893, closed 1998), where Mass was first concelebrated on November 1, 1830 (in the old church) by Bishop Benedict J. Fenwick of Boston and the pastor, Father Charles D. French, originally from Galway City. A few Irish priests from Boston assisted them.
This year the division has come together to remember two of their brethren who passed away: Daniel J. Crowley, aged 81, the division’s sentinel and longtime historian, who died in April, and the Rev. Coleman Patrick O’Toole, son of Galway emigrants, who passed away in November, aged 84. Fr. O’Toole, along with the late Fathers Patrick Barrett (the Division’s longtime chaplain) and Robert E. Lee, celebrated Mass at the Western Cemetery each August. Rev. Robert Regan, S.J., stationed at Cheverus High School in Portland, now celebrates the Mass each summer.
We also congratulate our president of more than twenty years, Paul O’Neill, of Cape Elizabeth, who celebrated his twentieth year of hosting Portland’s only Irish radio program, The Harp and Bard. President O’Neill created the program in 1989 after an AOH meeting in which it was discussed how the Greater Portland area was lacking a good Irish music program and radio show.
The division has recently discussed the feasibility of having government memorial plaques erected at the graves of Portlander Lt. Michael C. Boyce, killed at Gettysburg three months after getting married, and Colonel Daniel O’Connell O’Donoghue, a Civil War veteran, relative of the Daniel O’Connell, and local Fenian leader (1865-67), for whom the division is named.
Division 1 continues to decorate the Western Cemetery Famine Memorial stone and the SS Bohemian Celtic Cross monument in Calvary Cemetery each St. Patrick’s Day and Memorial Day. Our member James Avjian has long placed flowers and small Irish flags at these locations. The BOHEMIAN was a British steamer that sank off Cape Elizabeth, Maine on Washington’s Birthday, 1864, with the loss of 42 passengers and crew, most of whom were immigrants from County Galway. The local AOH and the Irish American Club of Maine erected a large and impressive Celtic cross here in their memory in 1985.
Our longtime member Michael J. Furey, a native of Anbally, Corofin Parish, County Galway, celebrated the 30th Anniversary of his owning and operating “Ireland’s Crystals and Craft” in Portland, the only store of its kind in southern Maine (perhaps in all of Maine!). Congratulations and keep up the good work, Mike! Furey, who will turn 82 this year, came to America in the 1950s, married, and had four daughters with his wife, the former Sally Conneely, also a Galway native. He is at the store seven days a week!