Father Brendan Fitzgerald will celebrate the Mass in Gaelic in the main church of St. Barnabus on Martha Avenue near East 241st Street, followed by a brief installation ceremony of Bronx County AOH officers with New York State President John Manning presiding. All are welcome to attend.

A press release from the Bronx County AOH said, “Last year, under AOH National President Danny O’Connell, the Bronx AOH Irish language Mass became a national AOH event viewed by Hibernians across the U.S. and in Ireland via the St. Barnabas Facebook and AOH YouTube. More than 7,000 people viewed the Mass, many of them seeing a Gaelic Mass for the first time.

“Irish-English translations of the liturgy will be made available so that anyone can read the prayers in English as they hear the Mass said in Irish. A special musical program will be provided by the Dawn Doherty Academy of Irish Music and Sean Ruane. 

“Each year, the Bronx County Irish language Mass at St. Barnabas is dedicated to all those who have kept the Irish language and culture alive. To symbolize this theme, the AOH flyer depicts a Mass Rock where Gaelic speakers gathered in secret to hear outlawed Masses said by outlawed priests in defiance of English penal laws.”

The release added, “This year the Irish Mass will include a special remembrance of the 10 Irishmen who sacrificed their lives in the Hunger Strike which ended 40 years ago on October 3, 1981. It is especially appropriate to remember that part of their legacy was the rebirth of the Irish language which these men inspired.”

Bronx County AOH President Martin Galvin said, “The Irish language Mass has become an important annual event on the AOH national calendar. 

“This year, with the Mass coinciding with the anniversary of the end of the 1981 Hunger Strike, it is important to include a special remembrance of the ten Irishmen who died and their legacy. The late Cardinal O’Fiaich, who was primate of all Ireland, frequently used the Mass Rock as a symbol of their plight, in advocating for them.

"The Irish language is an important and indestructible part of our Irish heritage. Measures to wipe out the Irish language began even before penal laws to wipe out the Catholic religion in Ireland. Ireland's cherished landmarks include Mass Rocks, where Gaelic speakers risked death or imprisonment simply to worship. Even today a simple Irish language act is still denied to six county nationalists. 

“As an organization formed to promote Irish ideals, culture, history and national freedom, we can think of no more fitting way for AOH members to honor Irish heritage than an Irish Mass embodying all of these themes." 

Galvin added, "There has been a great response each year from AOH officers, Gaelic clubs, community groups, and individuals who would just like to hear the Mass said in the language of our ancestors. St. Barnabas is fortunate enough to have a pastor like Father Fitzgerald who can say the Mass in Gaelic."

To view the Mass online, visit the St. Barnabas Facebook page here.

*This column first appeared in the September 29 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.