PHOTO CREDIT: Dennis Hohenberger/The Republican
PHOTO CAPTION: Joe O’Connor, President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians James
A. Curran Division One, served as Master of Ceremonies at the March 1 ceremony
outside Holyoke City Hall. Sheila Moreau (right) sang the American and Irish National
HOLYOKE — The Ancient Order of Hibernians observed Irish-American Heritage Month on March 1 with a program of ceremony and song.
Joe O’Connor, President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians James A. Curran Division One, served as Master of Ceremonies. He led off the observance with introductions of local officials, including members of the City Council; Paula Paoli, President of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 2 Hampden/Hampshire Counties; Sean Cahillane, President of the Irish Cultural Center of Western Mass, and Holyoke Mayor Joshua A. Garcia.
Mr. O’Connor called on Mayor Garcia to speak to the gathering that had assembled near the flagpole outside City Hall. In his remarks, Mayor Garcia said that Irish history “runs deep in Holyoke — from the hand-dug canals that created Holyoke’s economy to the St. Patrick’s Parade that boosts that economy and celebrates civic pride.
“The pride of Holyoke’s Irish-Americans reminds us that Holyoke is a city of proud immigrants and migrants. The waves of Irish, Polish, French Canadian, Puerto Rican and so many other seekers of a better life have made Holyoke the vibrant, multi-cultural city that it is. As today’s ceremony demonstrates, Holyokers are not divided by history — we are united by it.”
Mayor Garcia closed saying, “In Holyoke, we continue to honor the descendants of migrants and immigrants who came here looking for a better life. As we raise the Irish flag this morning, we reaffirm our shared experience, our shared hopes for ourselves and our children, and our mutual respect.”
Sheila Moreau was called on to sing the American and Irish National Anthems as Mr. O’Connor and Patrick Hogan raised the Irish flag. The tricolor Irish flag is green for Roman Catholics and Nationalism, orange for the Protestant minority and white in between those two colors “as hope for lasting peace between the two.”
Matt O’Connor player the bagpipe before and after the ceremony.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians was founded in Ireland in 1520. It was established in New York City in 1836 and in Holyoke in 1880.