Is it too little too late from the Friendly Sons of St Patrick in New York as they finally allow women to join their March anniversary gala?
For the first time in their 235-year history, one of New York's oldest male-only clubs, The Friendly Sons of St Patrick, will allow women to attend one of their events; although only a dinner.
March 2019 will mark the first time that women will be allowed to join the March anniversary gala of the club in which George Washington was an honorary member.
“The officers, board of stewards and I hereby encourage you to invite your wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, nieces, and female cousins, friends and colleagues to join us for the anniversary dinner,” said Friendly Sons president Kevin Rooney in a Nov. 2 email to members that was seen by the New York Post.
The New York branch is an offshoot of the Philadelphia Friendly Sons of St Patrick, which was formed on St Patrick's Day 1771. The original Philadelphia branch had already taken the step to start admitting female members in March 2016, inducting then-Irish Ambassador to the US, Anne Anderson.
Ambassador Anderson had previously spoken of her desire to end the male-only practice and was inducted, along with 20 women admitted to full membership, at a St Patrick’s Day dinner at the organization’s founding chapter in Philadelphia.
The Friendly Sons of St Patrick were founded in Philadelphia in 1771 to help newly arrived Irish immigrants in the U.S. While the society has been open to Catholics and Protestants alike throughout the years, women have always been excluded.
In October 2017, the New York branch had told IrishCentral that it was still a way from allowing female members.
“We’re a 234-year-old fraternal organization,” the branch’s President Matthew McLaughlin told IrishCentral.
“And by definition of being a fraternal organization, our members are all male.”
Personally, McLaughlin said he favored allowing women but remained coy as to whether that will happen anytime soon.
“I think it might happen someday,” he said.
Such an honor to be welcomed as a member into the Friendly Sons (& daughters!) of St. Patrick, #Philadelphia - an historic, respected, philanthropic AND progressive organization, committed to the US-Ireland relationship #StPatricksDay #IrishPhiladelphia https://t.co/J70mkgSXZF— Anna McGillicuddy (@annamcgill_anna) March 11, 2018
“We do discuss it as an option and I think that someday it will probably happen but at the moment the membership of the Friendly Sons would like to keep it all male.
“As generations move along people reevaluate the rules that they abide by within their society and at some point, it wouldn’t surprise me if the membership and the leadership did reevaluate the bylaws and rules of membership but I can’t make a prediction as to when that’ll happen.
"Transgender men," he continued, "would not be precluded from membership – although he adds, “I haven’t given it any real consideration."
What do you think of the Friendly Sons of St Patrick's decision? About time or too little too late? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, below.