The oldest annual Easter Commemoration in the USA was organized by Sean Oglaigh na hEireann and Friends Of Irish Freedom. The event follows in the tradition of honoring the men and women who fought for Irish Freedom during the Easter Rising and after.
The large gathering, which took place at Gaelic Park in the Bronx, commenced with Mass celebrated by Msgr. Patrick Moloney (Limerick). Those in attendance included the family of Vol. Sean MacDiarmada and Geraldine O'Reilly Johnson, daughter of Vol. Sam O'Reilly, Ken Tierney and Tom Laffey of Fort Worth 5 attended, as did Danny Gormley, who stood trial with Michael Flannery, George Harrison, Pat Mullin, and Tom Favley.
There were representatives from various Irish/County organizations. Mickey Coleman, of Tyrone, sang rebel songs, Tom Reddington serenaded the crowd with "Sean South of Garryowen", and national anthems were led by Terese Crowe, of Tipperary.
The Guest Speaker from Ireland, Veteran Volunteer Phil O'Donoghue, was a member of Sean South's and Fergal O'Hanlon's unit on that fateful New Year's Day in 1957.
O'Donoghue addressed the congregation not as a section of the Irish Diaspora, but as members of the sovereign Irish Nation. “Recognizing this sovereignty carries with it fundamental responsibilities. Throughout our history the first casualty in so-called conflict resolution between Irish forces and those of the Crown has been our unalienable right to National Sovereignty. This is why the conflict remains unresolved,” he said.
Further, O'Donoghue pointed out, "The Good Friday Agreement joins those previous Acts of British Parliament as yet another British construct to legitimize and normalize it's rule in Ireland."
He went on to ask, "What type of sovereign Ireland do you want? The question is too important not to be addressed in tandem with the struggle to secure that sovereign Ireland..... We want Irish America to be at the heart of the struggle to end the violation of Irish National Sovereignty. British Parliamentary activity in Ireland is the root cause of the ongoing conflict. In must end. Together we can make it end.”
O'Donoghue spoke about the illegal internment and abuse of Veteran Marian Price. He stated that the internment of Marian Price and other Republicans exposes the fact that Britain is still the oppressor.
Additionally, Margaret O'Connell read an historical account of a young Volunteer during Easter 1916 and Christina Canty read an Easter statement from Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry Prison. There were priceless historic items on display, including: a letter by O'Donovan Rossa, I.R.B. & Cumann na mBan membership pins, pow crafts from Long Kesh, letters from Bobby Sand's mother, original photos of Republican leaders from 1916 and other historic events.
The Commemoration included an Irish breakfast and many old and new friends met at this event. This is the most significant event on the yearly calendar for Irish Catholics! This event will be building to a major celebration in 2016.
To contact Sean Oglaigh na hEireann or F.O.I.F. for more info. 718-601-1550 or Friendsofirishfreedomusa@gmail.com or FOIF, P.O.Box 210-Riverdale Station, Riverdale, NY 10471.
The history behind “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”