Thursday, November 12, 2015

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USA: 20th Flannery Dinner Held In New York & Ruairí Ó Brádaigh Book Launched

A Report from New York on the 20th Annual Flannery Dinner which was held on October 17, 2015 in Yonkers, NY. At the dinner, the American Edition of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh’s Writings was launched by Dieter Reinisch. This was followed by successful book launches at the Terence MacSwiney Club in Jenkintown, PA, and Waterbury, CT.

This year’s 20th Annual Michael Flannery Testimonial Dinner served as the book launch of the American Edition of “Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, Selected Writings & Speeches”. While Lita Ní Chathmhaoil launched the history of Cumann na mBan at last year’s Michael Flannery Dinner, this year’s special guest was Dieter Reinisch. He is historian and the editor of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh’s writings. The book launch at the Michael Flannery Testimonial Dinner was followed by successful public events at the Terence MacSwiney Club in Jenkintown, PA, and Waterbury, CT, organised by Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta (NIFC).

The Michael Flannery Testimonial Dinner was held on Saturday, October 17, at Rory Dolans in Yonkers, NY. In the afternoon, Dieter Reinisch had spoken with John McDonagh and Sandy Boyer on the Radio Free Éireann show on WBAI about the book launch, his interest in Irish history and politics, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, and announced the 20th Annual Michael Flannery Testimonial Dinner.

Floor manager during the dinner was Jane Enright who called on Mary Tohill Costello to speak on the NIFC Centennial Banner project. In the course of her speech, Mary Costello said:

At Easter 2016, Irish people worldwide will solemnly observe the centenary of Ireland's historic Easter Rising in 1916. The National Irish Freedom Committee (NIFC) will commemorate this one hundreds anniversary of the Rising with an ongoing project. The “1916-2016 Easter Rising Centennial Banner” project. The Centennial Banner project will enhance the NIFC's objective of pursuing the Rising's unfulfilled promise of a Gaelic, inclusive, gender-equal and sovereign 32-County Irish Republic. The project's emblem will be a unique banner designed by Tomás Costeloe featuring the names of the patriot men and women who gave their lives for the Irish Republic during the Rising as well as the names of the organisations that took part. The banner has its first public showing tonight.

To encourage participation in the project, the NIFC will offer individuals the opportunity to sponsor a patriot whose name appears on the banner. Each sponsor will receive a certificate acknowledging their participation in this project. The copy of each certificate will be displayed in a leather-bound book which will be on view wherever the banner will be displayed.

 For generations to come, this book will serve as an account of those who joined in this worthy endeavour. The sponsor fee is $ 500. It is payable over five years in the time-lapse from 1916 to 1921 when the [Anglo-Irish] Treaty got signed. The fee is applicable for an individual sponsorship or a group sponsorship for up to and including five persons. A five year payment plan is available.

“The payment plan works as follows. An individual sponsor will pay $ 100 per year for five years. We can be very accommodating with these payments. You can make five payments each $ 20 or two payments each $ 50 as long as you give $ 100 per year and you give your commitment to pay that for five years. The group sponsors up to and including five persons will pay $ 20 per person per year for the five years.

After all expenses are covered, monies will be used in support of Cabhair, the Irish-based group that supports the families of Irish Republican prisoners. Also, and very definitely here in America, we are going to support Éire Nua as far and as wide as we can.

It is an Irish-authored plan for a free and united Ireland. If we Irish Republicans do not take up the cause of Éire Nua, the history of this plan for Irish unification will not be told.

The men and women listed on this banner gave their lives for the love of their country. Their aims then are our aims now, unchanged and unchangeable.

When I see fading pictures of those great patriots of the Rising and the images of the fading flag that hung over the GPO on Easter Monday, I am humbled, I am truly humbled by the sacrifices these men and women made. Please, each of you, reach out and join us in honouring the patriots of 1916 and helping to fulfil their dream that Ireland will one day, finally and forever throw off the subjugation of England so the Irish people themselves will have unfettered control of their destinies. As in 1916, again Ireland summons her children to her flag, I invite you to be part of that history. Please help us in our quest to promote Éire Nua.

The speech was followed by the unveiling of the 1916-2016 Centennial Banner.

Jane Enright then introduced Maggie Trainor, chairperson of Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta, who was the moderator during the presentation of the awards and the rest of the evening. The three honourees at this year’s Michael Flannery Testimonial Dinner were Kenneth Tierney, who was awarded with the Joseph Mary Plunkett Centenary Award; Sue Miskill Kramer, who was awarded with the Sister Sarah Clarke Human Rights Award; and Jack Ó Brien, who was awarded with the Mike and Pearl Flannery Spirit of Freedom Award.

Ken Tierney was born in Dublin in 1926, was raised in a strong nationalist area in Co Galway and became involved in Irish Republicanism while working in London. In 1954 he moved to New York. His life was torn asunder when in 1972, he was imprisoned for an alleged conspiracy to smuggling arms to the IRA. Never formally charged, his case became known as the Fort Worth Five. Ken Tierney is a life-long supporter of Irish Freedom.

Sue Miskill Kramer was born to an Irish-American family in Hartford, Connecticut. Sue Kramer is an active supporter of the Republican POWs in Maghaberry prison. She is an active supporter of the Freedom of All Ireland Committee in Waterbury, CT.

Jack Ó Brien is a native of Washington, DC, born to an Irish-American family and is member of the Typographical Union 101 and the Irish American Club. He is a founding member of the original Washington DC St Patrick’s Day parade 44 years ago; in 2015, he served as Grand Marshall of the parade. He furthermore belonged to the Irish Cultural Society, Irish Northern Aid, Irish National Caucus, Glucksman Ireland House NYU, and the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

After the dinner break, Maggie Trainor introduced special guest Dieter Reinisch, editor of “Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, Selected Writings and Speeches” who launched the American Edition of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh speeches. In his lecture, Dieter Reinisch spoke about the history and links of American and Irish Republicans since the 18th century, the support from the USA for the Irish Republican Movement in the 1970s, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh’s engagement with the Irish American community and the visa ban, as well as the contents of the book, the 1916 Centenary, and the tasks for Irish Republicans in the 21st century on both sides of the Atlantic. The speech was interrupted twice by spontaneous rounds of applause and followed by lengthy standing ovations from the audience.

Following the speech, those in attendance had the opportunity to get their copy of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh’s Writings signed by the editor Dieter Reinisch.

Maggie Trainor then welcomed Peadar MacMaghnuis, chairperson of the Éire Nua US Campaign. Peadar MacMaghnuis spoke about the current activities to promote Éire Nua in the USA and how to get involved in this campaign. Pat Williams then spoke about the Irish Republican POW’s and the Imprisoned Irish Republican Political Prisoners Activists (IIRPAS) campaign. This successful evening was concluded by an auction of Irish Republican items, among these a handkerchief made by the current Irish Republican prisoners held in Maghaberry jail. Jane Enright introduced auctioneer Gerry Enright and announced the auction items.

The dinner in Rory Dolans, Yonkers, was sold out and attended by more people than in previous years. Among those in attendance were Radio Free Éireann hosts John McDonagh and Sandy Boyer, Leslie Cassidy, Dominick Bruno and Christy Deryn, and Máirín Ó Dubhda, the wife of the late Séamus Ó Dubhda, their three daughters and grandchildren. Mike Costeloe of Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta told SAOIRSE that this year’s Michael Flannery Testimonial Dinner was one of the best dinners in many years.

On Sunday, October 18, NIFC organised a book launch of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh’s Writings at the Terance MacSwiney Club in Jenkintown, PA. The Terance MacSwiney Club is one of the oldest and most historic Irish-American Clubs in the USA, found in 1925. During this event, James Kelly was awarded this year’s Cabhair Testimonial Award by Maggie Trainor on behalf of Cabhair. The Cabhair Testimonial Awards 2015 were held in Dublin on May, 23; however James Kelly, a life-long supporter of Irish Republicanism in Philadelphia, PA, could not travel to Ireland for this event, instead his award was presented to him at the MacSwiney Club on October 18.

Following the award ceremony, Maggie Trainor introduced Dieter Reinisch who delivered a well-received speech in front of a packed hall in the Terence MacSwiney Club. Then, Pat Williams, NIFC, presented Matt Reagan, the President of the Terance MacSwiney Club with a handkerchief made and signed by the Republican POW’s in Maghaberry and thanked him and all the members of the MacSwiney Club for organising this successful event.

Two days later, on Tuesday, October 20, Waterbury AOH and Freedom For All Ireland, New Haven, CT, organised another book launch with Dieter Reinisch. The public event was held in the Waterbury AOH hall and proceeded by Peadar MacMaghnuis, Co-chair of the Éire Nua USA Campaign Committee. Peadar MacMaghnuis first welcomed those in attendance, introduced the Éire Nua programme and the work of the Éire Nua USA Campaign Committee; then he spoke about Ruairí Ó Brádaigh’s life, the launch of the American Edition of his writings, and introduced Dieter Reinisch who delivered the main speech of the evening. The speech was followed by a lively and controversial Q&A session. Chaired by Peadar MacMaghnuis, those in the audience asked Dieter Reinisch questions about the current situation both in the 26 Counties, as well as the 6 Counties, furthermore issues such as political violence, the unification of Ireland, Éire Nua, and the similarities between the American Revolution and the proclamation of the Irish Republic were discussed.

On Sunday, October 25, the Fenian Graves Association held a commemoration for three Irish-American Republicans in Shillelagh Club in West Orange, NJ. The commemoration was held for Desmond Boomer, John A. Kelly and Andrew Melillo.

Proceedings were chaired by Fenian Graves Association committee member Bill Scully. During the proceedings, videos remembering the lives of these three Fenians were shown. The videos were produced by Tomás Costeloe. Furthermore, family members spoke about the lives and the memories of these three Irish-Americans.

Mike Costeloe of Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta then introduced Dieter Reinisch who thanked the organisers and presented Bill Scully and Robert Ruane, both long-term Irish Republicans and activists of the Fenian Graves Association with signed copies of the American Edition of “Ruairí Ó Brádaigh: Selected Writings & Speeches, Vol. I”.

This year’s Michael Flannery Testimonial Dinner, as well as Dieter Reinisch’s appearance on Radio Free Éireann and the book launches of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh’s writings in New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut were a great success. Forty the years after the revoking of the multiple entry visa by the US government, the launch of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh’s writings in America is certainly a historic event for the Irish Republican Movement in the USA and abroad. This series of events organised by NIFC show the existing support for the Irish Republican Movement in the USA.

A video of the speech by Dieter Reinisch and the CABHAIR Ceremony in the Terence MacSwiney Club, Jenkintown, PA, on Sunday, Oct. 18; can be downloaded here.

Photos of the events are available on: