Virginia News

On behalf of the AOH Virginia State Board I would like to congratulate our new National Officers and National Directors. We are looking at another two prosperous years.

Presentation to Virginia’s First Lady Maureen McDonnell at the Governor’s Mansion, Richmond, Virginia. There were over twenty AOH Dooley Division Brothers in attendance on March 17, 2010, St. Patrick’s Day. They presented the First Lady with a Galway Crystal Pillar Hurricane and with an offer of a complimentary portrait from Mary Ellen McFadden, wife of Brother Paul McFadden. They also presented her with a Celtic Cross Pin and an AOH Application for her husband, Gov. Bob McDonnell (Irish Catholic). The First Lady was very gracious. It was a Great event for the Division. It is a tradition for the Division to present the First Lady with a gift during her first year in office.

Members of the Virginia AOH with Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell and the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond.

Catholic Schools Check Presentations. Major James H. Dooley Division of AOH donated $3,200.00 to Catholic Schools and Parish Christian Formation Programs. Donations were made from the proceeds of their 8th Annual Trip for Two to Ireland Raffle. Since 2007, the AOH has donated $12,200.00 to Catholic Schools and Education. For the past 8 years the AOH has donated $26,500.00 from the Raffle to Local Charities.

With Mr. Dan Caffrey from left, are All Saints students Loreal Williams and Akiah Moore; Ken Soistman, the school’s principal, and Francine Conway, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools.

Dooley Division Members with Virginia Governor McDonnell and Irish Ambassador Michael Collins. Dooley Division members were invited for a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion as the First Family of Virginia were planning their trip to Ireland this summer. Jack Cassells, founding member of Dooley Division gave them some great travel tips gleaned from his many trips to Ireland.

Pictured (L to R) Pat Naughton, JP Carroll, Irish Ambassador Michael Collins, Governor Bob McDonnell and Hugh Naughton.

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.