Irish-American Heritage Month

John Schell, St. Brendan Division, Towson, Maryland at the Division’s Irish-American Heritage Month display during the Maryland Irish Festival.

AOH Maryland Division 3, St. Brendan Division, Towson participated in the Maryland Irish Festival, November 12 – 14, 2010 with a display for Irish-American Heritage Month.  The display included a banner which contained the words CELEBRATE IRISH-AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH.  The display also included the 1996 and 2010 Maryland Governor Proclamations which proclaimed those months of March as Irish-American Heritage Month.  Indeed, Maryland Governors have proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month each year from 1996 through 2010.  United States Presidential Proclamation copies for Irish-American Heritage Month from 1991 through 2010 were also a part of the display.

We are happy to inform Brothers that we distributed five hundred fliers during the Festival as a part of the display.  The fliers provided a brief background description of Irish-American Heritage Month.  The fliers also included suggestions for asking taxpayer supported institutions, e.g., public libraries and public universities, to plan for celebrating March 2011 as Irish-American Heritage Month in the event that either President Obama or the Maryland Governor proclaims this coming March as Irish-American Heritage Month.  The St. Brendan Division has been very active over the years with AOH National Project Irish-American Heritage Month, and we plan future actions for this Project.  Brothers can learn about AOH National Project Irish-American Heritage Month and suggested actions by going to the National AOH website at www.aoh.com, click on National Programs, and then click on Heritage Month.

Irish American Heritage Month

We continue to make progress on the initiative to have March permanently declared as National Irish American Heritage Month. For the twentieth consecutive year, the President declared March 2010 as IAHM. We reported on states that had done so in the previous Digest. Additionally, we have received information from Delaware that the Governor had made a similar proclamation, and the State of Rhode Island, via the Rhode Island General Assembly has declared March 2010 as Irish American Heritage Month as they have for the past 33 years by unanimous resolution. This year’s proclamation was sponsored by Brother State Board VP Representative Peter Martin. Well done, brother.

On behalf of the members of the IAHM Committee, John Schell and Neil Cosgrove, I thank those of you who responded to our requests for letting us know what activities you had in support of IAHM. Wow! Lots of good stuff going on – too many to mention here – I’d probably fill up the whole Digest if I reported them all. But, just a few will be highlighted here. This is not to imply that these were the “best” – just kind of representative of all of your activities.

The Governor of Maryland joined several other states by declaring March as IAHM. Governor O’Malley, as an Irish-American, certainly supported our efforts. We are still waiting final word from the Irish-American Catholic governor of The Commonwealth of Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell. Back to Maryland, brothers there contacted state universities, community colleges and public libraries asking them to support IAHM. Division 5 Baltimore City set up the Irish Photo Exhibit and Contest. Catonsville Public Library had a large display with things Irish, including proclamations, books, and films related to Ireland.

Rockland County AOH Division 3 made a donation to the Pearl River Library to fund the purchase of books and over twenty CDs relating to Irish American Heritage. A large poster thanking the AOH for the donation and recognizing IAHM was prominently displayed at the library entrance throughout the month.

Colonel John Fitzgerald Division in Arlington Virginia once again sponsored the very well attended Gaelic Mass celebrated by Father Gerry Creedon. Father Creedon, a graduate of All Hallows Seminary in Drumcondra, Dublin, Ireland, and a fluent Irish speaker, has celebrated this Mass the week of St. Patrick’s Day for many years now.

Again, these activities are representative of the many other activities sponsored by our AOH states, counties and divisions throughout the month of March. Well done!

In coming weeks and months, we, the IAHM committee will be meeting with members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs in an attempt to get legislation sponsored and passed to make IAHM a permanent thing. We have been in communication not only with IAHM but other government agencies such as the Smithsonian. Not all of our actions have met with the desired response, but that does not deter us.

We continue to ask you, our membership, to let the IAHM Committee know what you are doing in support of IAHM to help us strengthen our case with the appropriate legislative bodies at the National level.