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One hundred thousand welcomes to you to my official blog of all things Irish from me, Diane Byrnes, host of the Echoes of Erin radio show on WEDO Radio 810AM.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Year of Remembrance Committee's Commemoration of 1981 Hunger Strikes

The year 2006 is the 90th Anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916 and the 25th Anniversary of the Hunger Strikes of 1981. Several members of various Irish organizations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, formed 'The Year of Remembrance Committee' to offer a few programs to the general public to commemorate these historical events in Irish history.

Our first program was April 17th at Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle commemorating the Easter Rising.(Picture detail - Diane Byrnes leading a candlelit vigil at Mullaney's)

Our second program was a commemoration of the Hunger Strikes of 1981 which took place on Sunday, August 13th beginning with Mass at St. Patrick's Church in The Strip at 3:00 p.m.The Mass was be concelebrated by Fr. Sean Kealy, originally from County Tipperary, Fr. Harry Nichols, Pastor of St. Patrick’s Church and Fr. Joseph Meile, Pastor at St. Sebastian Church. (Picture detail - Mass at Old St. Patrick’s Church in The Strip; the first Irish church in the City. Denny Donnelly is at the pulpit; Fr. Sean Kealy, Fr. Harry Nichols, Fr. Joseph Meile are on the altar.)

(Picture detail - Pallbearers in the Lobby of St. Patrick’s Church are Denny Maher, AOH Sean MacBride Division 32; Diane Byrnes, Producer & Host of Echoes of Erin; and James Mullen, Knights of Equity, AOH)(Picture detail - Carrying the coffin are Tom Welch, AOH Sean MacBride Division 32, Jim Westerman, Knights of Equity and Bobby Cooney, AOH Oakland Irish, Division 9)

After Mass, John Walsh of AOH Division 32 led us in procession piping us through Spring Way as we carried a 'Tri-Color' draped coffin, and the readers of the program carrying pictures of the ten Hunger Strikers.
(Picture detail - Procession Led by John Walsh on Pipes. Walkers in front row: Jim Green, Pennsylvania AOH State President & Fr. Charles Owen Rice Division 1 with Bobby Sands picture; Jim Caldwell, Irish American Unity Conference, Knights of Equity, AOH Division 1 with Raymond McCreesh picture; Mac McCafferty, VP Irish Centre of Pittsburgh, Knights of Equity, AOH Robert Emmet Division 23 with Francis Hughes picture; Jim Lamb, President of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh with Kevin Lynch picture; Denny Donnelly, AOH Allegheny County Board President, AOH Division 32 with Joe McDonnell picture.

Walkers in second row are Greg Garrison, Worthy Sir Knight, Knights of Equity with Martin Hurson picture; Arran McElhinney, Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle with Kieran Doherty picture; John Tarpey, AOH Division 1 with Tom McElwee picture; Steve Gilliland, AOH St. Patrick Division 4 with Mickey Devine picture; Jim Flanigan, AOH Division 1 with Patsy O’Hara picture.)

The rest of the Commemoration took place at The Fire-House Lounge in The Strip beginning at 5:00 p.m.There were ten men each reading a bio of each the ten men who died on hunger strike in 1981 and was interspersed with poetry and music by Sean McClorey.
(Pictuer detail - Jim Green reading Bobby Sands.)(Picture detail - Sean McClorey with Poetry and Music weaving the threads of the program together.)

Diane Byrnes read the introduction and background leading up to the hunger strike and Sarah McAuliffe-Bellin gave a summary.

This program was co-sponsored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Daughters of Erin, Irish American Unity Conference, Knights of Equity, Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, and the Ladies Ancient of Hibernians.(Picture detail -Finale – after all the reading have been done – The Ten Men who died on Hunger Strike.)
Many thanks to all of The Committee Members Diane Byrnes, Producer & Host of Echoes of Erin; Sarah McAuliffe-Bellin, the Irish American Unity Conference and LAOH Maude Gonne Division 32; James Caldwell, Political Education Chairman of the Irish American Unity Conference and AOH, member of Knights of Equity; James Lamb, President of The Ireland Institute; Mac McCaffrey, Vice President of The Irish Centre, member of the Knights of Equity and AOH Division 23; Denny Donnelly, President of the AOH County Board and member of AOH Division 32; James Green, Pennsylvania AOH State President and member of AOH Division 1; Mary Mannion, member of Irish American Unity Conference; Patrick McCann, member of AOH Division 32; Greg Garrison, Worthy Sir Knight, Knights of Equity; Maggie Van Cleave, Executive Director of the Conway Mill Trust; and Larry Brophy, Irish American Unity Conference.

Our Commemoration was planned to coincide with Rally that took place in Belfast at Casement Park on Sunday, August 13th.

Credits: Pictures courtesy of Jack Haggerty, AOH Division 9.


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