Treasurer’s Report

It hardly seems possible that we are only weeks away from our National President’s Dinner in Philadelphia. It is also hard to believe that my tenure as National Treasurer will be winding down in six or seven months. How time flies!

Before you know it, we will all be looking at a changing of the guard in Turning Stone.

We have been through some difficult economic times since 2008 and are in the middle of one even as you read this. In spite of the challenges, we have managed to maintain our savings intact. Through the advice of counsel, our oversight committee and brothers involved the financial industry, we reverted to a cash position last year. At this time it has been good advice as “cash is king.”

The IRS problem continues to be a headache for many of our divisions, and has especially become a frustrating experience for some of our financial secretaries across this country. However, those divisions who continue to attempt to file are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. We are discovering that since 2007, when the new IRS regulations came into existence, it has been a learning curve for both the Service and ourselves in regard to non-profit organizations.

All financial secretaries must also remember that our per capita tax increase begins on Jan 1, 2012 when each member will be assessed $12 instead of $8 for National dues. This will allow our organization to breathe a little easier at the end of each year when our cash flow is at its lowest. This dues increase occurred in Cincinnati in 2010 but was not to take effect until Jan 1, 2012. The last dues increase was 25 years ago and you can understand why National Treasurers were getting nervous every year in December

Please remember that divisions who have not paid their per capita tax will not be allowed to register for our National Convention in Turning Stone. You will hear more about this in the next few issues of the Digest.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the President’s Dinner in Philadelphia.

Commodore Barry to be Honored

Due to the persistent efforts of the AOH, Commodore John Barry, the founder of the U.S. Navy under the Constitution, will soon be honored at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.  Originally conceived of a simple memorial to Barry on the grounds of the Naval Academy, the AOH has obtained approval by Academy’s Memorials Oversight Committee for a Barry Gate and a Barry Plaza containing a newly designed Barry Memorial.

Project’s Background

This good news to properly honor Commodore Barry is the accomplishment of the efforts of many people in the Irish American community.  Two members of the District of Columbia State Board, Jack O’Brien and John E. McInerney, spearheaded relentless efforts to build support for a memorial honoring Commodore Barry at the Naval Academy.  This project was initially approved in 2007 at a State board meeting of the Washington, DC Hibernians.

The team of O’Brien, working as the Historian and Project Coordinator, and McInerney, as the writer and Public Relations Director, previously succeeded in a nationwide effort to erect the Irish Brigade Monument at the Antietam Civil War battlefield that was dedicated in1997.  Their perseverance in the face of numerous setbacks to make the Irish Brigade Monument Project a reality proved to be valuable experience in the quest to erect a Barry Memorial on the Naval Academy’s grounds.

 

AOH Proposal

On August 29, 2008, following the Academy’s guidelines, O’Brien and McInerney submitted a proposal for the Barry Memorial.  The proposal cited the numerous significant contributions made by Commodore Barry in serving our nation and its navy.  The passage of the Barry Resolution (Public Law 109-142) by Congress on December 22, 2005 recognizing Commodore John Barry as the first flag officer of the United States Navy enhanced the proposal.  However, the proposal was rejected on January 5, 2009 stating that a memorial to Commodore John Barry “would not be appropriate for placement on the Yard in an exterior location.”

Undeterred, O’Brien and McInerney filed an appeal with the Academy’s Superintendent on February 8, 2009. “It is important that we explain,” said O’Brien, “how a fine officer and gentleman such as Commodore Barry can be an inspiration to future officers of the Navy and Marine Corps.  We are asking that the Barry Memorial be placed in a prominent space in the Academy’s Yard,” declared O’Brien, “so that midshipmen, officers, and the public will know of the contributions of the Navy’s first Flag Officer.”

 

Commodore Barry

National AOH President Seamus Boyle strongly supports the efforts of O’Brien and McInerney to erect the memorial on the Academy’s grounds.  “It is important to recognize the significant contributions of the immigrants that have built America into the great county it is today,” said Boyle.  “John Barry emigrated from Ireland and settled in Philadelphia.  He came to America as a cabin boy and worked his way up to be the senior commanding officer of the U.S. Navy.”

At the very beginning of the American Revolution, John Barry offered his services to George Washington and Continental Congress in the cause of American liberty and independence. In December of 1775, Captain Barry was given command of the Lexington, a small brig.  On April 7, 1776, the Lexington fell in with HMS Edward, a small 6-gun tender of HMS Liverpool.  After a one hour naval battle, the captain of the HMS Edward surrendered after taking heavy losses and severe damage to his ship.  Captain John Barry triumphantly brought his prize up the Delaware River to Philadelphia.  This marked the first defeat inflicted on an enemy by the U.S. Navy.  The boost in morale and prestige to the leaders of the American Revolution facing the world’s most powerful military and naval force was nothing short of spectacular.

 

Public Support

Seamus Boyle and Joseph Roche, National PEC Chairman, approached Philadelphia native John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, for his support.  Lehman provided a very strong letter to the Academy supporting the project. He wrote “It has always been an oddity that his [Barry’s] memory and example have been largely absent from the Naval Academy.  … The time to rectify this absence is at hand.”

McInerney and O’Brien organized a national letter writing campaign to the Naval Academy’s Superintendent supporting the Barry Memorial Project.  The result was that many other groups and individuals sent impassioned supporting letters to the Naval Academy.

Fran O’Brien, President of the Navy League of the United States – Philadelphia Council, sent a letter of support to the Academy’s Superintendent.  The Society of The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick provided a letter expressing support for the Barry Memorial Project signed by President Edward Last, Vice President Todd Peterman, and Secretary Drew Monaghan.

It became clear that Congressional support was needed.   So, McInerney, very familiar with Capitol Hill, walked the halls of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.  Visiting the offices of at least 33 senators and 160 offices of congressmen, he hand delivered personally signed letters and talked to Congressional staff about supporting the Barry Project.  The end result of these efforts was that the letters signed by Senators and Congressmen proved to be successful.

In addition several cardinals, bishops and clergy enhanced the letter writing campaign.  Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Military Archdiocese wrote “As a frequent visitor to the Naval Academy at Annapolis, I have often wondered at the absence of a memorial to Commodore Barry.”

The significant history of Commodore Barry’s contributions to the American Revolution and the American Navy, the monuments honoring his memory in the United States and Ireland, the numerous memorial ceremonies celebrating his accomplishments, and the groundswell of support for the approval of the Barry Memorial Project all seemed to represent a critical mass that would surely persuade the Naval Academy to approve a Barry memorial its Yard.

However, much work still lay ahead for O’Brien and McInerney and the ever-increasing group of supporters to convince the Academy to approve the project.  The appeal filed on February 8, 2009 was answered in a letter dated June 16, 2009 from the Superintendent stating that he had referred the “proposal to the Executive Director of the Memorials and Grounds Oversight Committee.”

 

Crucial Meeting

It would be a year later on May 21, 2010 that a delegation of six met with a subcommittee of three military officers representing the Academy’s Memorials and Grounds Oversight Committee. McInerney chaired the meeting.  Representing the AOH was DC State President Bob April, National Director Keith Carney, Past DC Barry Division president Frank Duggan, John McInerney and Jack O’Brien.  Russ Wylie represented the Philadelphia Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.  The delegation met with Admiral Bruce DeMars, USN (Ret.), Admiral Robert Natter, USN, (Ret.), and General Michael Hagee, USMC (Ret.).  Captain Robert Hofford, USN (Ret.), Director of Special Projects, and Sara Phillips, AIA, Executive Director of Academy Projects, were also present.

A detailed proposal citing the many contributions of Commodore John Barry and the planned design of the Barry Memorial was presented to each subcommittee member.  The subcommittee members reviewed and conveyed the information to the main committee for evaluation.

 

Another Rejection

On July 20, 2010, the Memorials and Grounds Oversight Committee sent a letter to Jack O’Brien informing him that the submitted plan was not approved.  This was a discouraging second rejection but O’Brien and McInerney persevered and filed a second appeal with the Academy’s Superintendent.

 

Turning of the Tide

Ironically, while all of this was going on, the tide was already turning as a result of the intensity of the letter writing campaign to the Academy’s superintendent supporting the project.  Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley wrote a great letter of support.  Numerous retired Admirals sent letters expressing their strong support.  Congressional letters were having a major impact.  Letters supporting the Barry Memorial from many members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives were inundating the Superintendent’s office.  One month following the second rejection of the project by the U.S. Naval Academy, O’Brien and McInerney were contacted and offered a possible location for the memorial at the new pedestrian gate on Prince George Street.

On August 31, 2010, a delegation composed of National President Seamus Boyle, Keith Carney, Lt. Charles Cooper, USN, (Annapolis AOH Division), Jack O’Brien, John McInerney, and Russ Wylie met with Captain Hofford and Sarah Phillips at the Naval Academy.   They reviewed and inspected the site of the proposed location of the memorial.  The Academy’s offer was accepted.

“Throughout our efforts,” McInerney pointed out, “the Naval Academy worked with us in good faith.”  Finally, it was a dream come true to be offered an ideal site for the Barry Memorial where the majority of visitors as well as the midshipmen and their families enter and leave the grounds of the Naval Academy.

Numerous meetings ensued reviewing the proposed plans for the Barry Memorial with Academy officials.  Working closely with the Academy, O’Brien and McInerney were able to reach agreement on the final design of the Barry Memorial.

 

Victory!

On January 11, 2011, the Memorials and Grounds Oversight Committee met and officially approved the Barry Memorial to be located inside the pedestrian gate.  The project will be developed in two stages starting with the arched Barry sign over the Commodore John Barry Gate.

The Barry Memorial will be developed as the second stage.   It will feature a 28-inch circular bronze relief of Commodore John Barry mounted on an 8-foot granite block.  Below it is an enlarged copy in bronze of Barry’s Commission Number One signed by President George Washington.  Below this will be a bronze plaque giving the naval career highlights of Commodore Barry.  The area surrounding the memorial and gate will be named “Barry Plaza.”

“The Barry Memorial will bring to the forefront the decisive role Commodore Barry played in founding the American Navy under the Constitution at the direction of President Washington,” said Jack O’Brien.  “With the Barry Gate and Memorial, future officers of the Navy will know the role Commodore Barry played in our nation’s great naval history,” McInerney pointed out.  “This memorial will become the pride of the Navy and of Irish Americans,” McInerney concluded.

In the future, midshipmen, officers, and visitors to the U.S. Naval Academy will routinely say, “Let’s meet at Barry Gate” and in the process will learn about Commodore John Barry, a great Catholic Irish American Revolutionary War naval hero and the founder of the U.S. Navy under the Constitution.

 

Fundraising

The most important effort that AOH Members from around the country can do now is make donations to help build the gate and memorial.  With over $200,000 needed it is incumbent upon every member, division, county and state to make donations to this important AOH project.  In a recent letter President Boyle wrote:  “Brothers, noble causes make for generous hearts.  Let none of us lose this golden opportunity to educate future generations of naval and marine officers of the contributions of our noble Irish heritage in the foundation of our nation. Commodore Barry made great contributions to our freedom.  Do not let this opportunity to pass us by due to lack of funds.  Show your Irish pride and please contribute generously.”

Hibernian Charity is the AOH’s 501(c)3 organization and they are assuming the responsibility to receive the needed funds.  All checks are to be made out to Hibernian Charity Barry Project.  All donations are tax deductible.

Mail all donations to Hibernian Charity Barry Project, Post Office Box 391, Meriden, Connecticut 06450.  On the check memo line please write “Barry Project.”  If there are any questions, you may e-mail fkearneyjr@cox.net or call during the evenings after 6:30 PM. (203) 235-2746.  If you need additional information about the Barry Project, please feel free to contact John McInerney at (202) 213 – 2055 or e-mail him at McInerneyVerret@aol.com.  You may also reach Jack O’Brien at (301) 336 – 5167.

Hibernian Charity

Let’s Meet at the Barry Gate

 

For decades the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America has petitioned United States Navy historians and many others in the United States government to honor a true Irish American naval hero of the American Revolution. Commodore John Barry is part of the Constitution of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America as we ask our Divisions and Boards to honor him on or about the 13th of September each year (the anniversary of Barry’s death).

Brothers, two of our outstanding members from Washington, DC have accomplished something that many people from the AOH and graduates of the United States Naval Academy had never thought possible. Jack O’Brien and John McInerney have persuaded, through persistence and hard work, the United States Naval Academy Oversight Committee to approve a John Barry Memorial at the Academy in Annapolis, Maryland to recognize a Revolutionary War hero and the man who supervised the building of the first U.S. Navy ship in 1797: the frigate United States. As Jack and John stated one of their aims would be that students and visitors alike would be able to say “Let’s Meet at the Barry Gate”.

Members of the AOH have accomplished what was once considered impossible by Irish Catholics in the United States. We, the AOH, have perpetuated the memory of Commodore John Barry for Irish America.

  • First Mike Kearney of Brooklyn, NY, had the United States Congress recognize John Barry of Philadelphia, PA and Wexford, Ireland as the “First Flag Officer” of the United State Navy.
  • Then National Vice President Seamus Boyle has had the letters and papers of Barry catalogued and digitalized at the Philadelphia Seaport Museum under the care of their historians.
  • National Historian Mike McCormack has written constantly on Commodore John Barry and recently made a substantial personal donation to the Commodore John Barry Gate and Memorial
  • John Barry is buried in the graveyard at the rear of Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church near the Penn’s Landing piers in Philadelphia from which he once sailed to attack the British Fleet during the American Revolution.  An AOH/LAOH group from NYC has traveled here every September to honor Barry and have a luncheon in Philadelphia.

When the American Revolution ended the Naval heroes of that conflict were John Paul Jones who was Scottish by birth and a Catholic Irishman John Barry now of Philadelphia. The fledgling American Navy, consisting mostly of merchant ships converted to warships, was decommissioned and the ships returned to civilian service as merchant ships. Jones set out to continue as a naval officer under other flags and died of natural causes while serving as an Admiral in the Russian Fleet.

The Irishman John Barry returned to Philadelphia and his position as a successful merchant sea captain at the end of the Revolutionary War but soon Congress came calling in 1794 and he was commissioned as First Captain in 1797 and he was asked to serve his country by supervising the building of the Six Frigates, which would be the new Navy, as well as training of a U.S. Naval Officer Corp to command them. He thus became Commodore John Barry, First Flag Officer of the United States Navy. There were no Admirals in the U.S. Navy at that time.

 

Fundraising for the Barry Gate

If we are to honor Commodore John Barry at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis we will need to raise funds in two distinct stages for this to progress and honor this Irish American Revolutionary War hero to take his rightful place at the United States Naval Academy.

Stage #1: We must have $15,000 in donations to raise the Wrought Iron arch over “The Barry Gate” and make an eternal historical representation of a man who remained in the shadows of the history of the United States and the American Revolution. We will be contacting State Boards to achieve this goal.

Stage #2: Will be the much larger project for the statue and the garden, the largest we have undertaken since the project for the AOH/LAOH Victims of Katrina in New Orleans. We do not have the final numbers but it will be somewhat in the neighborhood of $150,000 that we will need to have raised.

Those figures may seem to be quite daunting for our Order and your Hibernian Charity but we cannot fail when there is an opportunity to fulfill a promise to a man, Commodore John Barry, whose efforts for our shared adopted country, putting his skill and daring as a seaman in service of the Continental Congress, when few had those skills so needed for the war, in its time of greatest need during the American Revolution. In fact the British, recognizing what his skills meant to the colonists, attempted with money to have him become a Benedict Arnold and switch sides. At times during the most perilous moments of the American Revolution that would not have seemed a poor choice to many but I’m sure not to Barry who as an Irish Catholic realized that he never would have been a Sea Captain in an Ireland under British rule.

Let this year’s “Holiday” for Commodore John Barry be a fundraiser to immortalize a very symbolic Irish American who has been honored by the AOH/LAOH these many years. We would ask every Division and Board in the United States to make a contribution of at least $100 (of larger groups of we are suggesting more than $100) to this long sought cause.

 

Contributions can be mailed to:

Frank Kearney, National Secretary Hibernian Charity

P.O. Box 391 – 315 Chamberlain Highway – Meridan, CT 06451

 

 

Commodore John Barry Memorial Becoming a Reality

The US Naval Academy’s Memorials Oversight Committee approved the new Commodore John Barry Memorial on January 11th.  Written confirmation was signed February 7th.  The project will be completed in two phases.

Phase one will be the erection of the new Barry Gate at the pedestrian entrance on Prince George Street.  The majority of people entering and leaving the Academy pass through this gate.  The Barry Gate hopefully will be erected soon sometime this year once details are worked out.

Phase two will be the erection of the Barry Memorial inside the pedestrian gate.  This part of the project will take longer since the Hibernians will have to first raise all of the funds necessary to erect the memorial.

Once all of the final details are competed and the papers signed, an announcement will be made to the Irish American community and to the media.  At that point fundraising can start.  “This is where we need the help of brother and sister Hibernians in all states.  States should consider making donations at their conventions,” declared Bob April, President of the DC State Board. “The team of O’Brien and McInerney has worked diligently to make all of this a reality and we are now asking Hibernians across the country (states, counties, divisions and individuals) to consider helping make the Commodore Barry Memorial a reality.”

“The Barry Memorial will bring to the forefront the decisive role Commodore Barry played in founding the American Navy under the Constitution at the direction of President Washington,” said Jack O’Brien, Barry project coordinator.

John E. McInerney, the project’s public relations director, expanded that,  “With the Barry Gate and Memorial, future officers of the Navy will know who Commodore Barry was in our nation’s great naval history. This memorial will become the pride of the Navy and of Irish Americans,”

Washington DC News

As I look back on the past few months since Christmas, so many great things have happened in our gracious and humble order.  To start in late January, we Hibernians in our Nation’s capital were pleased to host, once again, all of our national brothers, sisters, friends and guests for our annual Pro-Life prayer breakfast.  In attendance to our simple affair, was the pleasant presence of our National President, Seamus Boyle, National Vice President, Brendan Moore, and National Directors, Keith Carney, Jere Cole, Chris Norris, along with our National Pro-life Chairman, Bob Mott.  Also in attendance were many pilgrim Hibernians from across our great country from Ohio, South Carolina, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and of course, Washington, DC.  I also would like to extend a special mention to all of our LAOH sisters in attendance. The always affable Ralph Day, President of John Barry Division I – DC, was our Master of Ceremonies for the event.  Great job Ralph! Each National Director gave inspiring speeches to motivate us for the march ahead and the visit to our locally elected representatives.  Thank you Brothers for your encouragement as we embarked on a brisk Washington morning.

The US Naval Academy’s Memorials Oversight Committee approved the Commodore John Barry Memorial in January.  The team of O’Brien and McInerney is working diligently to make all of this a reality.

Our divisions have been very active in fundraising for the order and all our charitable works.  Sons of Aidan, Division III at the Catholic University has hosted poker tournaments and a Super Bowl pool as well. Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Division II from Bowie is hosting their annual trip to Ireland raffle.  Only 300 tickets will be sold at $25 a chance. The winner will be announced at their annual St. Patrick Vigil Mass and Social.

Something new that may be of interest, on a National level, is our new program aptly named “Prayers and Pints.” This is a simple day of Spiritual Reflection, Reconciliation and celebration of the Eucharist led by our Assistant State Chaplain Father Rob Walsh (Division III,) followed by good natured fellowship at a local pub.  If anyone wants details on this type of event, contact me personally at bandbapril@verizon.net!

House Hears Human Rights Issue

Aideen Gilmore testifying before the House Human Rights and Oversight Committee

At a September Congressional subcommittee hearing Aideen Gilmore, the Deputy Director of the Belfast based and highly respected Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) testified.  National FFAI Chairman, Sean Pender noted, We can not be lulled into the thought that the work in the North is over. Ms.Gilmore highlighted the fact that while there has been much progress in the North there are still many areas that need continued attention. She testified that many of the main components of the Good Friday agreement (GFA), such as a Bill of Rights have not been implemented; the challenge of dealing with the past has not been addressed as it was envisioned in the GFA.

Additionally, she added that the economic improvement that the North has seen has not resulted in improvements in many of the most deprived areas.  She cited recent economic studies published in March of 2010 that supported these statements.  It is troubling that these studies report that 16 of the 20 most deprived areas are Catholic.  More troubling is that the areas that had experienced the worst levels of violence are economically no better and in some cases worst off than they were during the troubles.  The concern here of course is that if these areas are not experiencing a peace dividend it could lead to disenchantment for the overall peace process.

Father Sean McManus, president of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus rated the House Human Rights Hearing on Northern Ireland a great success. Fr. McManus noted that the witness on Northern Ireland, Aideen Gilmore was entirely excellent.  Ms Gilmore told the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight, Chaired by Congressman Russ Carnahan (D.MO), While a lot of progress has undoubtedly been made in Northern Ireland … We would urge continued vigilance and support for the protection of human rights and equality in Northern Ireland as a means of embedding and sustaining peace.  Fr. Mc Manus praised Congressman Carnahan saying, He deserves great credit. Irish-Americans are deeply grateful for his support of human rights and equality in Northern Ireland.