Madigan Muses: Irish Heritage Month
By Marilyn Madigan
The United States Congress, by Public Law 101-418, designated March as Irish Heritage Month, and authorized the President to issue a Proclamation to observe this occasion. President George Bush issued the first Proclamation on March 12, 1991.
In the Proclamation, he recognized the many contributions of Irish Americans throughout the history of the United States. Some of the contributions highlighted on that first Proclamation, which included the nine men of Irish origin that signed the Declaration of Independence, and the many of Irish heritage that fought in the American Revolution. This included John Barry, the first Naval Commander. Irish born James Hoban was the architect of the White House. This was just the beginning of the Irish contributions to the birth of our country.
EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin, Ireland, has a display of the twenty-three Presidents of Irish descent. The first President of Irish descent was Andrew Jackson.
Our current president, Joseph Biden, is the second Catholic of Irish descent elected. He was inaugurated on the 60thAnniversary of John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration.
On this 30th Anniversary of the designation of March as Irish Heritage Month, he will be recognizing the contributions of his own ethic heritage. The highlight of Irish Heritage Month is our St. Patrick’s Day Celebration.
In most years, our Irish community is very busy attending the many concerts, dinners, dances, and parades. Ohio is proud to host St. Patrick Day parades in Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dublin and Youngstown.
This year, these Parades have been cancelled due to the have Pandemic. Although they have been cancelled, the Feast of St. Patrick will continue with the celebration of faith, family, and heritage by the many Ohioans of Irish descent.
Irish Heritage Month Activities
The Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians will be celebrating Irish Heritage Month with two programs and a Mass to honor the Feast of St. Patrick. On Sunday March 7, National Treasurer Sandi Swift of Missouri will be interviewing Muriel McAuley, granddaughter of 1916 Hero Thomas MacDonagh and the great niece of Grace Gifford, who the song Grace was written about (by Frank and Sean O’Meara).
As we gather in the chapel here in old Kilmainham Jaill
I think about these past few weeks, oh will they say we’ve failed?
From our school days they have told us we must yearn for liberty
Yet all I want in this dark place is to have you here with me
I had the privilege of meeting Muriel in Dublin in February 2019. We met at the GPO General Post Office, one of the principal sites of Easter 1916) and gave me a walking tour of Moore Street and the route that the women took to Jervis Hospital with the wounded. Meeting Muriel and hearing the personal history of her family was one of the highlights of my trip.
We are planning on sharing this interview on the LAOH National YouTube Channel on Sunday, March 7, at 1:00pm. March 8 is International Women’s Day; please remember all the women that have contributed to Irish and Irish American history.
The second interview will be on Sunday, March 28, at 1:00pm, also on the LAOH National YouTube channel. I will have the privilege of interviewing our own John O’Brien, Jr on the publication of his new book, Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, History, Traditions and Activities, A Holiday Book for Kids. This book should be in every Irish home with children.
The main event is the Mass that will be celebrated by our National Chaplain, Fr. Ryan Duns S.J., on Sunday March 14 at 1:00pm, also on the LAOH National YouTube channel. Most of the Cleveland Irish know Fr. Ryan. He shares his Irish culture and his musical talents with dancers across this country.
The Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians across the country are just finding out just how blessed that we are to have him as our Chaplain. Most met him for the first time at our celebration of the Feast of St. Brigid last month.
Remember the most important part of Irish Heritage Month is our faith, our family and the love of our heritage.