This article was submitted by Martin Galvin, Ancient Order of Hibernians National Freedom For All-Ireland Chair, in response to the article, “Why has the Irish War of Independence been forgotten by Irish America?” by retired professor John Rossi, from La Salle University.
Professor Rossi may be right that "Ireland's centenary of its Declaration of Independence from England was largely ignored by worldwide media outlets", but wrong to fault Irish America or say we forgot. America's oldest and largest Irish American organization, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, (AOH) with LAOH members across the country, pledged at last July's national convention to get state and national recognition for the centenary of these hallowed events in Irish history. We noted then that like the signers of America's Declaration of Independence, these patriots who pledged themselves to Freedom, risked imprisonment or death at the hands of a colonial British government which tried to crush the cause of liberty.
Within three years of seeing the 1916 leaders shot down for declaring the Irish Republic, and with many of those elected by the Irish people in the 1918 Election already 'held by the foreigner' in British prisons, they declared Ireland's right to independence and freedom.
They surely knew that the British would not give up their colonial rule of Ireland without making Ireland fight a war for independence. Their courage helped make it possible to generations in 26 of Ireland's 32 counties to live in freedom instead of under British rule.
Irish America made the Declaration of Independence center stage in New York State, getting Governor Cuomo to proclaim January 21, 2019, as "The 100th Anniversary of Ireland's Declaration Of Independence Day" in the Empire State.
In deference to the Martin Luther King national holiday, Hibernians, led by State Presidents Vic Vogel and Jacqueline Clute, waited until the following Monday, January 28, to gather in the State Capitol for a scheduled vote on a joint Senate and Assembly Resolution. The legislative Resolution not only passed overwhelmingly, but the AOH and LAOH were named in the bills and congratulated from the Senate and Assembly floor for reminding New Yorkers of the importance of these events to Irish America.
Both the Governor's Proclamation and legislative resolutions compared America's Declaration of Independence to Ireland's, recounted Ireland's right to freedom from a colonial British government, and memorialized the historic part played within New York State to make Irish independence possible.
In Washington, Pennsylvania Congressman Brendan F. Boyle and Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal, with the support of the AOH and other Irish American organizations introduced a national resolution honoring the 100th anniversary of the inaugural meeting of the First Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s Parliament, and Declaration of Independence on January 21, 2019.
“One hundred and forty-three years after a group of brave American patriots signed the Declaration of Independence in my hometown of Philadelphia, a group of Irish citizens began their own revolution. The Dáil’s first meeting 100 years ago declared Ireland an independent nation and enabled its people to enjoy the freedoms they treasure today,” said Congressman Boyle. “This resolution honors Ireland’s struggle for liberty, and those who fought to advance Irish independence. This is an important commemoration for Ireland, for the millions of Irish ancestry in the United States, and for all who believe in liberty worldwide,” said Boyle.
Other states, cities and municipalities are working on similar measures. It is certainly true that these events have not gotten the coverage they deserve, perhaps, because they remind us that freedom for all Ireland as declared 100 years ago has not yet been realized. However, it is wrong to suggest that Irish America and specifically the AOH will ever forget.