Under the inspired leadership of first President John Clune, 125 years ago, a group of patriotic Claremen got together in New York to form the County Claremen’s Association, later renamed the County Clare Patriotic, Benevolent and Social Association of New York.
People from all walks of life in New York met regularly to discuss the welfare of Clare people and they rolled up their sleeves to provide support and friendship for young people who had left Clare.
This August as part of the Gathering, the Association will celebrate their 125th Anniversary in Clare. Mayor Pat Daly says “that this gives the people of Clare an opportunity to salute the New York Association for their sensitive care of generations of Clare emigrants and their contribution to the wider Clare community there down through the years.” The descendants of people from Clare whether they be 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th generation will be equally welcome.
An impressive programme of events has been created including a civic reception, anniversary banquet, commemorative mass, golf days in both Doonbeg and Ennis, a tour of the spectacular beauty of the County including attractions such as The Cliffs of Moher and Loop Head. There will an exhibition in the library and heritage and genealogy talk from Clare Roots Society.
President of the Association in New York, Cathy Hogan whose Dad hails from Kilkee, says “You do not need to be a member of the Association to join us – all you need is the desire to return to the land of your birth or the land of your ancestors! “ Further information is available on www.hometoclare.com and www.facebook.com/hometoclare.
You are specially requested to share this information with relatives and friends in New York and on the East Coast and to submit some new stories from your parish for the website.
Clare people contributed in all walks of life including teaching, carpentry, medicine, labour, law and the army.
Many generously shared their rich culture of music and dance and cultivated a love of Irish customs and traditions. Mary Gleeson, General Manager of the Old Ground Hotel who has been co-ordinating information for the website on behalf of Promote Ennis and has been fascinated to read some of the adventures and achievements of Clare people who left these shores.
She said “Pat McDonnell of Doonbeg was an Olympic Champion and Policeman on Times Square, Mike McTigue from Kilnamona was a world champion boxer and not too many people can claim to have a Gaelic Football field called after him – this honour was bestowed on Ballyea man, Woodlawn resident Paddy Markham. It must have been a source of great pride for him that “Paddy’s Field” – the only athletic field on New York City parkland built for Gaelic Football was developed by the club founded by Paddy and other volunteers from the Woodlawn community.
“Other notable stories recall the genius of John Philip Holland – a pioneer in submarine development and Daniel O’Day from Kildysart who ensured the first pipe to bring oil to New York was laid.”
There is also a Clare connection to the most famous Irish political family The Kennedys whose great great grandparents came from Newmarket. Robert Kennedy was New York State Senator. New York members of the Clare Association are looking forward to lots of nostalgic chat as they celebrate here in Clare on 26th August. Don’t forget to tell your cousins.
For more information visit www.hometoclare.com.