A Donation in Westchester

On November 28, 2012 the A.O.H. Division 16 and Ladies A.O.H. Division 16 donated $4,700.00 to Hospice Care of Westchester/ Putnam Counties. The presentation was made at the annual “ Tree of Life “ceremony held at the Holiday Inn in Mount Kisco, NY. Hospice Care, ( Visiting Nurse Association ) a non-profit home health care agency provides home health services to patients with advanced illnesses.

On December 22, 2012 the A.O.H. donated $4,700.00 to Rosary Hill Cancer Center  located in Hawthorne, NY. Rosary Hill Home is run by the Dominican Sisters and provides hospice care for incurable cancer patients who are unable to afford care for themselves.

Since 1992 the A.O.H. has donated $197,185.00 to Hospice Care of Westchester /Putnam and Rosary Hill Home in Hawthorne, NY and other organizations.  The fund raising drive was administered by Chairwoman Grace Murphy. The Division is grateful to the following parishes for their help-St. Elizabeth Seton-Shrub Oak, St. Mary’s-Katonah,  St. Patrick’s-Yorktown, St. Patrick’s-Bedford, St. Francis of Assisi-Mount Kisco, and St. Lawrence O’Toole-Brewster, St. Patrick’s-Armonk, St. Joseph’s-Croton Falls and St. John’s/St. Mary’s-Chappaqua.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 16 was formed on September 13, 1891 consisting of men of Irish descent and practicing Roman Catholics living in the northern Westchester County area. The A.O.H. originated in America on May 4, 1836 in order to protect the Catholic Church from a mounting wave of religious bigotry, discrimination, and mob violence. In April 1844 the A.O.H. valiantly defended the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC from being burned down. The Division has a long and distinguished history of supporting different community groups in the area as well as hosting northern Westchester’s annual Mount Kisco St. Patrick’s Day parade since 1991.  The Division is pleased to announce that our St. Patrick’s Day parade will be held on Saturday March 9, 2013 and annual dinner on Saturday March 2,2013 in Mount Kisco. For further information or an application please write to the above address ,  or visit our website at www.AOHDIV16.org.

NYS Div. 16 AOH Donation to Rosary Hill Home on 12/22/12  Pictured L-R William McCormack, AOH Westchester Co. Marshal, Grace Murphy, LAOH Div. 16 Chairwoman, Sister Mary Francis, Rosary Hill, William McCormack, future Hibernian, Sister Mary Khanh, Rosary Hill, William O'Malley, future Hibernian, Timothy O'Malley, AOH NY Div. 16

NYS Div. 16 AOH Donation to Rosary Hill Home on 12/22/12 Pictured L-R William McCormack, AOH Westchester Co. Marshal, Grace Murphy, LAOH Div. 16 Chairwoman, Sister Mary Francis, Rosary Hill, William McCormack, future Hibernian, Sister Mary Khanh, Rosary Hill, William O’Malley, future Hibernian, Timothy O’Malley, AOH NY Div. 16

William O'Malley and William McCormack present donation from NY Div. 16 to Rosary Hill Cancer Home, a Archdiocese of NYS recognized charity, in Hawthorne,NY on Dec. 22. They are the sons of Timothy O'Malley and William McCormack , Westchester County’s AOH marshal, both from NYS Div. 16.

William O’Malley and William McCormack present donation from NY Div. 16 to Rosary Hill Cancer Home, a Archdiocese of NYS recognized charity, in Hawthorne,NY on Dec. 22. They are the sons of Timothy O’Malley and William McCormack , Westchester County’s AOH marshal, both from NYS Div. 16.

Maine News

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!

Historical Happenings

Congratulations to President Boyle for his article on Irish Slavery in our last issue.  We should all do our best to educate people to the trials and tribulations, as well as the glories of our predecessors.  The great thing about this article is the interest it inspired.  We received one e-mail from a history professor in Oklahoma who wrote that Shay had mixed up the two Kings James.  The professor noted that James I was really the one who started Irish slavery while James II was the last Catholic King of England and asked for a correction to rescue James II from being an enslaver of Roman Catholics.  We also received an e-mail from a respected historian in Brooklyn that the article looks to be plagiarized from the author, John Martin and the author should have received more credit. We also received several e-mails asking for sources where they could learn more about the subject.  All these e-mails were welcome since it gave us the chance to respond.  First of all, the Kings James are easy to mix up for while James I was, in fact, the one who began  selling the Irish into slavery, it was Cromwell who increased it and James II who kept it going!  In truth, before he was even King, James II was the Duke of York and head of the Stuart family’s Royal African Company which, between 1680 and 1688, sent 249 shiploads of 60,000 slaves to the Indies and American Colonies, more than 14,000 of whom died in passage.  Few realize that for 100 years after the post-Cromwell restoration of the Crown, during the reigns of King Charles II as well as James II, there were more Irish sold as slaves than Africans.  As for the source of the information, Shay credits the Cape May, NJ AOH meeting and he does refer to the book by John Martin urging the reader to look further into the subject.  It should be noted here that the article by John Martin appears in many places on the internet from a Rastafarian News blog to Irish American web sites and not always properly credited.  However, it’s in Martin’s article that we find that, The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World.  His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies.  Factually, in 1625 James II hadn’t even been born yet, and I’m sure that Mr. Martin mixed up the James boys as well.  However, when James II became King in 1685, he had already profited from selling Irish and was unable to overrule his Puritan Parliament.  But our President is right, more people should learn this little-known part of our history.  A good place to begin is with the book, To Hell or Barbados, The Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland by Sean O’Callaghan which is available on Amazon.com.

Back in the September 2007 Hibernian Digest, we told the story of 57 young Irishmen who reportedly died of cholera while working on a railroad spur about 20 miles west of Philadelphia and ended up in a mass grave hastily dug beside the tracks.  In that article we speculated that anti-Irish sentiment at the time may have resulted in a more violent end for these young men and that only the location and examination of the remains would verify that.  A shin bone, found in 2009, convinced diggers that they were at the proper location and exploration continued.   After several years of fruitlessly scouring the area for the men’s final resting place, seven sets of remains have been uncovered and the latest bodies do show signs of a violent end. On 20 August, Lori Murphy reported on Irishphiladelphia.com an update to the story and in the August 24 edition of the Irish Echo, our friend Ray O’Hanlon featured the news under a banner headline IT WAS MURDER!  According to Ms Murphy, two skulls unearthed at a probable mass grave near Philadelphia this month showed signs of violence, including a possible bullet hole. Another pair of skulls found earlier at the woodsy site also displayed traumas, seeming to confirm the suspicions of two historians leading the archaeological dig.  Professor Watson, chairman of the history department at nearby Immaculata University who has been digging for nearly a decade with his twin brother Frank to unravel the 178-year-old mystery said, This was much more than a cholera epidemic.  He told the Echo, their skulls show signs of a violent death.  The men suffered very bad blows to the head while one of the skulls had what appears to be a bullet hole. Anti-Irish nativist sentiment made 19th-century America a hostile place for these workers, who lived in a shanty in the woods while laying track.  It is now believed that when some of the workers fell ill, they sent for help and a group of nuns came to administer to them.  Meanwhile when word got out that some of the workers had cholera, anti-Irish prejudice and fear of the disease prompted an attack by nativist vigilantes.  That theory is now supported by the recovered remains.  Janet Monge, an anthropologist working on the project, said, I don’t think we need to be so hesitant in coming to the conclusion now that violence was the cause of death and not cholera, although these men might have had cholera in addition. She added, Last year, when we only had two skulls to examine, I was a bit hesitant in claiming that we were looking at traumatic death, but this year, in every specimen that we examine, it really seems to indicate that they were victims of blunt-force trauma around the time of death.  Check out Duffy’s Cut on the internet for more information – it’s a remarkable story!  And we agree with our friend Ray, it was murder!

Another remarkable story has just been released by Harolyn Enis in her book When Ireland Fell Silent.  As a historian, I rarely, if ever, read fiction.  The only exception is books by Morgan Llyewelyn who creates a fictional person or persons to live out and tell the story behind historical events as did John Steinbeck in Grapes of Wrath.  Well, we have another like author in Harolyn Enis.  I was drawn to her book by its subject – the Great Hunger.  As a student of that subject for many years and having written and lectured extensively on it myself, I thought to do  a critical analysis and expose another revisionist historian who minimizes the catastrophe and calls it a famine rather than the genocide that it was.  Surprise of surprises, I found that I couldn’t put the book down.  It is not only factual in every detail, but her style of writing put me in the cottage beside the Reilly family that she created to take us through the horrors of hunger.  I even welled up tears at her telling of the American Wake.  More than the formal  facts format of most histories, you will find this one easy to read and, more important, easy to comprehend, even though it will never be easy to understand the rationale for the Hunger.  This is so much better than a pure history, it is a true history for even though the family is fictitious, it allows you to experience anxiety, frustration and desperation as they experience the historically factual hardships imposed by a greedy colonial administration.  More importantly, it explains the survival of our Irish culture despite the tragic times.

I contacted the author to offer my congratulations and she told me that her son, Brian, started reading the book and after the first 100 pages expressed the opinion that the Irish should not have died passively without a fight.  After reading more, he offered a profound evaluation: The more I think about it, he said, it was HOPE that kept them passive.  By the time hope was gone and they realized that the British were not going to help them, they were too weak.  If they had known British intentions from the beginning, they would have been more aggressive.  It was Hope that did them in. An astute observation!  To read this book is to experience An Gorta Mor.  It will be available on Amazon.com in October, check out the review in this issue.

Don’t forget to check out the histories on AOH.COM and NYAOH.COM and until next time, keep the tradition alive.