Ringfinnan Garden of Remembrance

Over the past several years I have made quite a few trips to Ireland – alone and with tour groups. I have explored historical sites, tracked down ancient round towers, and shared the camaraderie of local folks at music sessions in countless pubs. But on my trip in October of this year, I experienced something very moving. I must admit I did not know it existed – the Ringfinnan Garden of Remembrance in Kinsale.

This Garden is dedicated to the memory of Father Michael Judge, Chaplain in the New York Fire Department and to the 343 courageous firefighters and first responders who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001.
The Garden is such a peaceful, serene area. There is a tree for each of the fallen firefighters, with a larger one for Father Judge. Each of the trees has the name and company of one of the fallen. Some of the trees include a picture of the individual to who the tree is dedicated. The Garden was initiated by Kathleen Murphy, a nurse in New York City. She was born in Kinsale, and her family continues to reside there.

Upon our arrival at the Garden, we were welcomed by pipers, who escorted us to the site. At the Garden we had a short prayer and dedication and were then given flags and the name of one of the fallen, which we then went through the garden seeking our particular tree, and placed the flag on the tree.

What a wonderful experience that was. It is so fantastic to know that there are folks in Ireland who have done so much to memorialize the fallen of 9/11.

Florida

New Florida Division Formed

The first fully formed and sworn AOH Division in South Florida has come to be in over a decade. The Father Michael Judge Division #1, Martin County, Florida was fully formed with nineteen new candidates/new applicants and one transfer member, for a historic and glorious new beginning of the AOH in Florida! The Division was sworn in with all twenty members present by State President, Sean Denny, assisted by State Treasurer Jack Marshall, and John P. Pesce, Florida State Organizer, at the American Legion-Post #126, in Jensen Beach, Florida, on Saturday, February 27th, 2010.  The bagpipers played, state officers educated and instructed the members with regard to our ancient Order’s history, mission and goals, and all present were then tested as to their Irish birth/ancestry and their practicing Roman Catholicism. Following the swearing in ceremony of the individual members into the AOH, the new division and its officers were sworn in. Afterwards, all enjoyed Hibernian warmth and friendship, to the sounds of a pianist, and refreshments, provided by Brother Dennis McKenna (our transfer member from Division #22, Kings County, NY, and the driving force behind the formation of this historic division!) The Florida State Board was then informed that Martin County was also in the process of forming an LAOH division which would follow shortly, now that the men’s division was formed. A Heartfelt thanks to all, including Brother Bill Berry of Georgia, who helped in making “The Martin County AOH Dream” come true.

Newly sworn in members of the Father Michael Judge Division #1, Martin County, Florida

On January 30th, 2010 Pasco County AOH/LAOH held an installation of Officers.  It was held at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in New Port Richey.  The Installation was preceded by a luncheon.  AOH Pasco member Lee Witt cooked the chicken which was a big hit.  State Vice President Peggie Smith installed the officers for the Ladies.  Jackie LaGuardia was reinstalled as LAOH Pasco Division President.  State President Sean Denny installed the officers for the Gentlemen.  Peter Fegan was reinstalled as AOH Pasco Division President.

Newly installed Pasco Division Officers

The AOH & LAOH of Sun City Center Florida had a special Valentine for everyone with the annual Broadway to Galway Concert at Prince of Peace Parish.  It was held at 2:30PM on February 14, 2010 to a large audience.  The Hibernian Members of Sun City Center directed everyone to their seats.  Performers Eily O’Grady Patterson, Ciaran Sheehan, and Gay Willis returned to thrill the audience with songs from The Phantom of the Opera and Sound of Music as well as traditional Irish tunes.  They introduced Deborah Brinson who played the harp and had a glorious singing voice as well.  Together they did beautiful renditions of “Galway Bay”, “Danny Boy”, “Lady of Knock” and much more.  They got the crowd to sing “God Bless America” and “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” toward the conclusion of the concert.  Everyone had a musical afternoon.

: (L to R) Performers Eily O'Grady Patterson, Deborah Brinson, Ciaran Sheehan, and Gay Willis.