I had the pleasure of being invited to dinner by several newly arrived Embassy staffers here in Washington. This dinner was also attended by former president Ned McGinley and Immigration Chair Dan Dennehy. With recent cutbacks in staffing at the Embassy, the responsibilities and workload of the newly arrived have increased. The dinner was enjoyable as we (on the AOH side) described the lay of the land in the U.S. Irish community as we know it and how happy we are to work in constructive ways with the Irish Government through their diplomatic corps. One area that the Embassy is involved with is Education Ireland (http://www.educationireland.com), an effort by Ireland to attract Irish Diaspora to obtain their college education in Ireland. The Embassy was pleased to hear about the AOH’s efforts over the years to support our own with Study Abroad Scholarships — grants of $1,000 per year. You should hear more about this from Bill Sullivan from MA in this edition. I encourage you to look into the possibility of having your children or grandchildren pursue higher education in Ireland. The tuition rates are very attractive compared with U.S. colleges and the experience for someone of Irish decent would be unmatched.
I attended the National President’s Dinner in Philadelphia and the conclusion (perhaps) of the 175th Anniversary of the AOH in America celebration. I was honored to visit numerous AOH Halls, from Trenton, NJ, to some half dozen in Philly itself. It is nice to know you have AOH family at these Halls and that you are always welcome at these Halls no matter where in the country they are located. I was extremely impressed with Clara Reilly, our 2011 MacBride recipient. Her speech about her quest for truth and justice in Northern Ireland was awe-inspiring. Congratulations to her and to Sean Pender for his tenacity in getting her here. President Boyle’s gala was impressive and I was pleased that many of the attendees made generous donations in his name to the Commodore John Barry Memorial Project. I believe that more than $13,000 was raised at the dinner — what a fitting tribute to Seamus at his final President’s dinner. I was also proud that two members of the Virginia AOH received their Life Membership approval at the National Board meeting. My good friend and Living Legend Pat Troy will soon don the tri-color ribbon. Also receiving from Virginia was Jeremiah Gorman. I only recently met Brother Gorman at the VA State Convention. I regret that another Virginia Brother and long time Hibernian John O’Neill Sr. was unable to receive the award; He passed away shortly before the meeting to vote.
I attended the DC State Convention and am proud to say that the Commodore himself — Ralph Day — had been elected State president. I am happy to report that we also have three officers on board who are under 30. They are young and hard working and dedicated AOH members all. Stay tuned for exciting things coming from the DC State Board in the future.
I also attended the Barry Memorial fundraiser in Annapolis organized by the Maryland Commodore Barry Division. A nice turnout by our MD brothers and a guest appearance of Ambassador Michael Collins and his wife, Marie, made for a grand evening in the state’s capital. The Beltway Bulldog, Jack O’Brien, was there working diligently (as always) — over $3,000 was raised.
On a sad note, we lost a great Hibernian, former national Director Jim Herlihy from Arlington, VA. Jim was born in Ireland and very dedicated to the AOH in northern Virginia and Washington, DC. He passed away at the age of 91.
If you have not heard, Certificates of Irish Heritage are now available for AOH members and all individuals of Irish decent. This is a new and important way in which the Irish Government wishes to acknowledge and appreciate the strong and enduring connection to Ireland felt by millions of people around the world. Certificate designs take their inspiration from our history and our land and provide the backdrop to a wonderful expression of Irish heritage and the legacy of Irish ancestors. For further information and details of how to apply, please go to www.heritagecertificate.ie.
Please feel free to contact me if you are coming to DC anytime soon – email@example.com