Irish History

About these Reports

This is a collection of Historian Reports I made over the years. Each report was tailored to the day that it was presented to those who were gathered for our events. Most of these reports were delivered at an AOH Monthly Meeting; however, some were presented at our annual AOH Communion Breakfast gatherings.

Each report was presented without announcing the title. This allowed the listener to speculate about who or what the report was about. May I recommend that you try to determine the subject of each report without ‘peeking’ at the title?

These reports have an underlying Irish theme. Sometimes that theme may not be obvious until the end of the report.

Remember, these reports were written to be presented to folks who had been sitting quietly and were now waiting for the results of the 50/50 drawing. It took me a while for me to figure that out, so you will notice as time goes by, my reports are tempered by the attention spans that were available. These readings were intended to be light. And, as always, your observations and suggestions are welcome.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
Past Historian, AOH Division 1
Reports from October 29, 2006 to January 11, 2018

Padraic Colum

In 1881 Padraic Colum was born in County Longford, Ireland and was the oldest of eight children. His was born and lived in public housing with his family because his father maintained the facilities. His first job was assisting his father. After he lost that job, he went to Colorado to prospect for Gold at Pike’s Peak. Finding little gold, he soon returned to Ireland.

He found work outside of Dublin tracking trains: their destinations, arrivals and goods carried. This job gave him time to do research at the National Library of Ireland. There he befriended a writer named James Joyce. Padraic Colum was interested in preserving old Irish Folk Songs that were passed on by word of mouth. His work soon resembled the work of Pittsburgh’s own Steven Collins Foster. Padraic Colum recorded the words and Herbert Hughes recorded the music. Many of these songs were later translated from Gaelic to English.

Padraic Colum’s work was discovered by Thomas Kelly, an American, who underwrote more education at the University College of Dublin. With more knowledge, Padraic Colum was soon writing plays and his works were being featured in the United Irishman, a newspaper published by Arthur Griffin, leader of Sinn Fein. Tuesdays soon became the day Padraic and his wife Mary invited notable Irish writers to their house in Donnybrook for discussions about writing

Padraic Colum became acquainted with the works of Edger Allen Poe in 1908 and recommended his works in Ireland. Soon Poe’s books featured Introductions written by Padraic Colum. This friendship might have persuaded Padraic and Mary Colum to visit America in 1914.

Their intentions were to stay in America for three or four months. They returned to Ireland eight years later. During their time in America, Padraic Colum started writing stories based on old Irish tales written in Gaelic. He translated them into English and some were being published in the New York Tribune. Padraic Colum was contacted by Willy Pogany, a Hungarian artist, who persuaded Padraic Colum to write longer books and target them to children.

This collaboration with Willy Pogany proved to be very lucrative and probably was the prime reason for the eight-year stay in America. Padraic Colum didn’t limit these children’s’ books to Ireland. Instead he drew inspiration from folk tales from Greece, Norway and Hawaii.

This wealth allowed Padraic and Mary Colum to be flexible with their lives. They moved to France and were reacquainted with James Joyce. Rumer has it that Padraic Colum even had a hand in the creation of James Joyce’s Finnigan’s Wake. Returning to New York, Padraic taught at Columbia University and NY City College. His works were recognized in 1961 when he got a Regina Medal from the Catholic Library Association. In 1972 Padraic Colum died, 46 years ago today in Enfield, Connecticut. He was returned to the Sutton section of Dublin for burial.

President Barak Obama, exploring his Irish roots, visited Ireland in 2011. P.M. Edna Kenny presented him with three original works by Padraic Colum that featured his native Hawaii.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr,
January 11, 2018

Andrew Jackson Higgins

This past December 7 we remembered the 76th anniversary of the Japanese attacked against Pearl Harbor. That action in 1941 brought the US into WWII for the better part of four years. About 38 years earlier a young Irish Lad was being expelled from a Jesuit High School in Omaha for brawling. What is significant is that same Lad was credited by the Supreme Allied Commander as “. . . the man who won the war for us. . ..” There is also an acknowledgement from Adolph Hitler, who called him “The new Noah.”

Andrew Jackson Higgins was born in Nebraska in 1886. His father was a Chicago lawyer who moved to Nebraska and became a judge, but died in a fall when Andrew was only seven years old. Young Andrew straightened up after his expulsion by the Jesuits and went on to achieve the rank of First Lt. in the National Guard. He found his place as an engineer solving complex troop movement problems along the Platte River.

Upon discharge in 1906, he headed South to get into the lumber business in Mobile, Alabama and there he did well. In his spare time, he started making shallow draft boats that could easily navigate the Gulf Coast and lower Mississippi. The spoonbill design let trappers and oil explorers drive their boats on to a bank, then back off without causing any damage. Soon boat building was the main part of Higgins Industries as the lumber business faced stiff competition.

The Navy was looking for a way to get troops on to a beach in 1942, but they refused to listen to Andrew when he offered his landing craft. It took the intervention of the US Marines to finally convince the US Navy that Higgins Industries had the boat for the tasks required. The Marines were aware of a front-ramp boat used by the Japanese in the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937

Andrew Higgins’ company made the changes suggested by the Marines and eventually built 20,000 boats for the Allies during WWII. The one that Eisenhower said won the war for the Allies was designated the Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel or LCVP in military jargon. It was more commonly known as the Higgins Boat. The most famous use of Higgins Boats was the Allies’ invasion of Normandy at Omaha, Gold & Utah Beaches on D Day, the 6th of June 1944.

To this date, the only Higgins’ biography was written by historian Jerry Strahan. It is titled: Andrew Jackson Higgins and the boat that won WWII. To bring his work into perspective; in 1943 the US Navy had 14,072 vessels – 12,964 were built by Higgins Industry. To put another way; at that time, 92 percent of U.S. Navy vessels were made by Andrew Jackson Higgins.

The acknowledgements Andrew Jackson Higgins received during WWII came from Eisenhower to Hitler, but he was not really noticed by history until the National WWII Museum was built in New Orleans. It was founded in 2000 and I was fortunate to visit there in 2013 when my Son AJ (AOH Division 1 member) selected that location for his US Navy retirement ceremony. Right inside the front door of the National WWII Museum is a surviving authentic Higgins Boat built by that scrappy Irish kid from Omaha who even the Jesuits couldn’t handle.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
December 14, 2017

Oliver Plunkett

WWII was winding down. Germany had surrendered and Japan was just about to be lit up with some new weapons that were to change the world forever. Oliver Jedlick Sr was in the US Army Air Corp stationed in California and his son, Oliver Jedlick Jr (yours truly), was about to be Baptized. My Mother, Katherine, had entered into a mixed marriage; as Dad wasn’t Catholic. Wondering if Oliver was a Catholic Saint’s name, she asked the Pastor of St. Agnes (Oakland), Fr. Moriarty, who said, “Sure you’ve never heard of St. Oliver Plunkett?”

Well, Fr. Moriarty was a little ahead of himself, as Oliver Plunket was only Blessed at that time. St. Oliver Plunkett was martyred on July 1, 1681, but he wasn’t officially declared a martyr until March 17, 1918 (almost 237 years later). Two years later (May 23, 1920) Oliver Plunkett was Beatified and he was finally canonized a Saint 55 years later. But an Irish Martyr hanged by the British was enough to be considered a Saint by most Irish Catholics.

St. Oliver Plunkett, the Prelate of Ireland, was the last Catholic Martyr executed in England. His crime was High Treason, as it was believed he plotted a French invasion. The trial was moved to England because they didn’t believe they could get a conviction in Ireland. Many in attendance at his trial believed Oliver Plunkett was innocent. In fact, England’s King, Charles II, (who was a closet Catholic) also believed in his innocence, but elected not to get involved.

Archbishop Oliver Plunkett was found guilty, hanged, drawn, quartered and beheaded. They weren’t taking any chances. On the gallows, Oliver Plunkett said: “I do forgive all who had a hand directly or indirectly in my death and in my innocent blood.” He may have forgiven them, but it didn’t really sound like he was giving them Absolution. So, I would say nothing would be ‘bound in heaven.’

Ireland is known as the Land of Saints and Scholars, but they seem to have hit a dry spell for Saints. St Lawrence O’Toole was canonized December 11, 1225 and there were no Irish Saints canonized until St. Oliver Plunkett; 750 years later.

It was on this day, October 12, 1975, that Pope Paul VI presided over St. Oliver Plunkett’s elevation to sainthood. For the first 30 years of my life my given name was not a Saint’s name, but I think I was covered by my middle name, Francis.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr
October 12, 2017

Jim Thorpe

In the early 1800s, Hiram G. Thorpe was born to an Irish Catholic family in Connecticut. Hard work and skills as a blacksmith gave him the courage to explore the vast new country out West. His skills got him a government job in Iowa as the tribal blacksmith for the Sac and Fox Indian Tribe. There he met and married a young Indian maiden and soon they had a daughter, Mary.

The Sac and Fox Tribe was decimated by a small pox epidemic and their daughter Mary was one of the 300 victims. Hiram’s blacksmithing skills meant he was charged with making all their coffins. This was followed by the government relocating the Sac and Fox Tribe to Kansas. There he and his wife had their second child, a son, Hiram P. Thorpe. The tribal elders were the first to notice that young Hiram resembled their fierce and defiant tribal ancestor, Chief Black Hawk.

Another tribal move ended in Oklahoma. There Young Hiram passed his trait of defiance on to his son Watho-Huck, which translates to “The Light After the Lightening”. In many accounts, this is mistakenly translated as “Bright Path”. His Catholic Baptismal Certificate shows his name to be Jacobus Franciscus Thorpe, but today we know Hiram’s son as Jim Thorpe; the greatest athlete of the 20th Century.

This was first acknowledged when he participated in the 1912 Olympics at the age of 25 and he won gold medals in the Pentathlon and the Decathlon. When the medals were presented by the King of Sweden, history reports Jim’s classic response: “Thanks, King.”

As a lad in Oklahoma, Jim was known to run down rabbits and he had many other abilities that made him stand out as a youth. At age 16 he enrolled in the Carlyle Indian Industrial School in PA. Glenn Scobey Warner was coaching track candidates when young Jim jumped into the action and smoked all the others in his street clothes. ‘Pop’ Warner (Glenn Warner’s nickname) was very impressed and, yes, he was that Pop Warner. Jim put Carlyle on the map when their football team beat Harvard and later Army. Dwight Eisenhower played for Army in that game.

Jim Thorpe was outstanding in every sport he tried: Professional Baseball, basketball and Football. After the Olympics, he signed with the New York Giants and also played for six teams in the NFL. Later he barnstormed with a professional basketball team made up of Native Americans. It should be noted that Jim Thorpe participated in the 1912 Olympics as a citizen of the Sac and Fox Nation. He didn’t acquire dual citizenship with the US until 1916.

There were movie deals and he was the nominal first president of the American Professional Football Association (APFL) which later became the NFL. Jim Thorpe was inducted into the NFL’s first Hall of Fame Class in 1963. That was ten years after he died of a heart attack at age 66. He was living in a trailer park in Lomita, California. recovering from alcoholism, forgotten and living in poverty. Jim Thorpe was a lifelong Catholic and he did have that Irish Grandfather.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
September 14, 2017

The 53rd Monument

In the U.S. Navy as an Airman Recruit, I learned how and when to salute. The how was: Upper right arm parallel to the deck; that’s Navy speak for floor, with the index and middle fingers touching the right side of the forehead, just below my hat. The when was: Acknowledging a superior officer or the US Flag. There were also times when we were NOT to salute; when we were uncovered. That’s Navy speak for when your hat’s off; which is why I can’t demonstrate a salute. I learned that an Admiral must return the salute of a Recruit. One of the exceptions are: A Medal of Honor recipient will always receive the salute first: even from an Admiral.

On Dec 21, 1861, President Lincoln signed Medal of Honor legislation on behalf of the U.S. Navy and on July 12, 1862, he signed legislation on behalf of the US Army. In 1964, 100 years later, Pennsylvania acreage near Valley Forge was dedicated to salute more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients. There were monuments erected on 52 one-acre sites for the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It wasn’t until Sister Marie Veronica discovered, while researching these heroes, there were 150 Medal of Honor recipients not represented at this huge memorial.

In 1985, the Ancient Order of Hibernians erected the 53rd monument to those 150 Medal of Honor recipients forgotten in the original 1964 Medal of Honor Plan. These 150 omissions were because these heroes had not established a residence in any state prior to making, in many cases, their ultimate sacrifice.

What caught the attention of Sister Marie Veronica and the AOH was the fact that the majority of these omitted Medal of Honor recipients were from Ireland (65). The other countries were: Germany (36), England (12), Canada (11), France (4), Switzerland (4), Scotland (3), Norway (2), Philippines (2), Sweden (2), Unknown (5) and one each from Australia, West Indies, Denmark and South Wales.

This Saturday, November 11th the Veteran’s Day Parade steps off at 10:30 on the 900 block of Liberty Avenue. I’m usually at Liberty Avenue and Stanwix Street at the “T” Stop. This year I’ll be in Virginia visiting family. If you go to the parade, please also remember those 150 Orphan Medal of Honor recipients ‘adopted’ by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. And don’t forget your Dog Tags this weekend!

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
November 7, 2017

Martin Luther

The U.S. Navy sent me to Northern Florida in the late 60s and I had an opportunity to visit St. Augustine, the oldest European establishment in the U.S. There I spent a day at the Castillo de San Marcos, also the oldest masonry fort in the U.S. How this fort lasted so long has a lot to do with the materials used in its construction.

The walls were made of a stone called coquina; ancient seashells compressed and bonded to form a material that resembles limestone. Under siege, the walls would absorb the cannon balls instead of shattering. This attribute always reminded me of the way Ireland absorbed all those who attempted to conquer Emerald Isle.

Christianity arrived in Ireland in 432 A.D. and set the standard for the Irish to live their lives. Since then, the Viking and Normans tried to conquer the Emerald Isle. They brought force and were not repelled but, in the end, they were absorbed.

The English almost pulled off the conquest of Ireland they started in the 1500s, but 101 years ago Irish Patriots sent a wake-up call to the Irish with the Easter Rising. The 600-year English siege of Ireland was never totally successful and slowly it is turning around. So much so, English transplants could feel themselves being absorbed into Ireland and chose to bale to the New World. There they traded on their time in Ireland by passing themselves off as Scotch-Irish.

The English themselves are under siege and started Brexit to leave the European Union for self-protection. Daily news reports show violence being caused by England’s latest arrivals. Brexit was started to stem the tide of this invasion, but it is going to take 3 years to implement. All these problems in England are making their problems in Northern Ireland seem less important.

England’s Brexit policy does not please the Protestants in Northern Ireland but they may soon be compelled to bale or be absorbed into the fabric of Ireland. They may not be able to anchor themselves in their religious differences in the future.

The Lutherans are the custodians of the Protestant Reformation. This year marks the 500th anniversary of that event* and the Vatican and Lutherans have been talking about this for quite a while. The Vatican may not be ready to canonize Martin Luther, but they do plan to issue a Vatican stamp this year to honor him. And more changes are coming!
Ollie Jedlick, Jr
June 8, 2017

The Black and Tan

If you search Black and Tan, you will be directed to a beverage, a coon hound and mercenaries sent to Ireland to fight the IRA and the First Dail. The beverage is a mixture of Guinness and Bass pale ale first appeared in print in America in 1881 and later in England in 1889. The hound was from the Talbot Hound, found in medieval England after the eleventh century. Its ancestry can be traced through Bloodhounds and Foxhounds to the Black and Tan Virginia Foxhound. The mercenaries were the spawn of Winston Churchill, then British Secretary of State for War.

In late 1919 the Black and Tans were being recruited to assist the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) during the Irish War of Independence. They were mainly a rag tag group of WWI vets who were struggling to return to civilian life. At first there was no official uniform available and they looked like the coloration of Kerry Beagles. An Irish comic solidified the joke in Limerick’s Royal Theatre, and the nickname Black and Tan soon took hold.

The official name of the Black and Tan was the Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserves and they had no police training, as they were only supposed to be Temporary Constables. It should also be noted that that there was also the Royal Irish Constabulary Auxiliary Division; made up of ex-army officers. Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserves (Black and Tan) were tasked with assisting mainly in urban areas while the Royal Irish Constabulary Auxiliaries were tasked with hunting down and eliminating IRA units in the countryside. History distinguishes all three.

On this day in 1921 the Black and Tan went on a murderous rampage across the city of Galway. They went to a house being tipped off that Hubert Tully, an IRA member, may be there. Tully answered the door and once they had confirmed his identity they repeatedly shot him. Earlier in the evening, the same group had visited another house in Galway in search of IRA member James Folan. Upon finding that Folan was not at home, the Black and Tans shot two of his brothers who were sleeping in a downstairs bedroom, killing one and wounding the other.

Sir John Simon MP (and a future Foreign Secretary), was horrified at the tactics being used by the Black and Tan. Lionel Curtis, writing in the imperialist journal The Round Table, wrote: “If the British Commonwealth can only be preserved by such means, it would become a negation of the principle for which it has stood”. The King, Anglican bishops, MPs from the Liberal and Labor parties and the press were increasingly critical of the actions of the Black and Tans.

It should be noted that Mahatma Gandhi was not fooled. He said of a British peace offer: “It is not fear of losing more lives that has compelled a reluctant offer from England but it is the shame of any further imposition of agony upon a people that loves liberty above everything else”.

About 7,000 served in the Black and Tan between 1920 and 1922 and 404 deaths were listed for the Royal Irish Constabulary as a whole. Special Reserves and Auxiliaries were not broken out in this count, as they were all the same in reality. They didn’t succeed in putting down the Irish, but they did succeed in dragging down the reputation of the Black and Tan Virginia Foxhound.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
May 11, 2017

Hugh McGinnis

Hugh McGinnis was born 147 years ago today on April 11, 1870 in Castlewellen, County Down. As a seventeen-year old lad, he and his sister set out to seek their fortunes in America. They lived in New York and St. Louis before a twenty-year old Hugh McGinnis joined the US Army in September of 1890. Little did Hugh McGinnis know, before 1890 was over, he would be part of one of the most infamous events in American military history.

The Massacre at Wounded Knee was the last great conflict between Native Americans and the US Military. Many accounts have been written, but none of them had the first-person testimony of someone who was at the initial flash point that set off the powder keg. Hugh McGinnis was in the area when that shot was fired and he says the initial discharge was due to a struggle over a loaded rifle. This happened at a meeting where the Sioux were to give up their weapons.

As a member of Troop K, 1st Battalion, 7th Calvary, Hugh McGinnis was the last survivor of the Wounded Knee Massacre. His accounts were gathered in early 1965 and published in 1966 in the magazine Real West: True Tales of the American Frontier. (A Charlton Publication). The author of the article was his neighbor, Olive Flannery Glasgow.

This account given by Hugh McGinnis discusses the sentiment of his fellow soldiers, the forces acting on the Native Americans and the fears of American Settlers. Altogether, these forces made the eventual disaster almost inevitable.

Some soldiers at Wounded Knee recalled the US Troops massacred at Little Big Horn fourteen years earlier. The Native Americans recalled all the broken treaties and they were gathering 3000 strong in this area to hear the Piute spiritual leader, Wovoka, and his revival of the Ghost Dance that was going to drive the White Man from their land. The Ghost Dance and the painted faces of dancers was scaring the American Settlers and they were demanding protection. These factors all made up the keg and the inadvertent rifle discharge was the spark.

Wounded in the arm and the leg, Hugh McGinnis was taken out of action early. The medics told him his leg was shattered and needed to be amputated, but they didn’t have time for that because others needed attention. It turned out his leg wound was misdiagnosed in that the bone was intact and, even though there was much bleeding, there were no vital arteries damaged.

In the final count, there were 153 Native Americans and 25 Soldiers killed; some by friendly fire. One of those killed was Chaplin Father Craft, who was giving Hugh McGinnis the Last Rites. As he was fading in and out of consciousness due to his wounds, Hugh McGinnis remembers seeing Father Craft being stabbed in the back while administering the Sacrament.

He said he still had fitful dreams of this event 74 years later. Shortly after relating his memories, Hugh McGinnis died in March of 1965 at a VA Hospital in Iron Mountain, MI; after a life of virtual solitude as a woodsman. It is ironic that Wovoka is the Piute word for woodsman.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
April 11, 2017

Luke Wadding

Luke Wadding was born in October of 1588 and died in November of 1657. In those 69 years, he had a profound effect on the Irish World; even today.

Born in Waterford, his early education was in Ireland. Luke’s university training happened in Spain, and it was there, in 1607, he became a Franciscan Friar. Six years later he was ordained a priest and five years after that he was made president of the Irish College of Salamanca, just west of Madrid. This Professor of Divinity was then made chaplain to Spain’s Ambassador to the Papal States.

Once in Rome, Luke Wadding cofounded the College of St. Isadore in 1625 for the education of Irish Priests. St Patrick’s memory is honored at St. Isadore College. This institution would have been in continuous operation for almost 400 years; except that Napoleon I closed the college for a 10-year period in the early 1800’s.

The British sent an envoy to Pope Innocent X to explain their position on Ireland. He reported back to the Prime Minister that the Irish Politicians were ‘moderates’ compared to priests at the Irish College in Rome. It was Luke Wadding who had the Pope’s attention. He persuaded Pope Innocent X to send arms, supplies, money and an Archbishop to aid Irelands’ struggle with the British, but the effort failed and the rebellion was crushed under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell.

Pope Urban VIII tried to make Luke Wadding a Cardinal; but he found ways to intercept the Pope’s petition. It is still in the archive of St. Isadore College.

St. Patrick’s Day was observed in Ireland from around the 10th Century, but it was Luke Wadding in the 17th Century who was instrumental in getting the Church to make St. Patrick’s Day a Feast Day and, in Ireland, a Holy Day of Obligation.

Due to the efforts of Luke Wadding, St. Patrick’s Day is now celebrated around the Civilized World. This coming Saturday our Civilized world will be in the city’s downtown section, where we will celebrate Pittsburgh’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

The Irish have always been active converting pagans to the true way of living our faith. And, to the evangelists in our group, there will be a target-rich environment available this weekend for pagan missionary work in Pittsburgh’s South Side.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
March 9, 2017

Brendan Behan

Today is the 84th anniversary of the birth of Brendan Behan: an Irish Republican, poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright. He wrote in both English and Irish. Brendan Behan was only with us for 41 years; but what years they were?

He quit school at the age of 13 to follow his father, Stephen, as a house painter. He also got his love of literature from his father, who read to his children each night. His mother, Kathleen, took Brendan on walking literary tours of Dublin and peppered those tours with Irish nationalist information, instilling political beliefs. His uncle, Peadar Kearney, wrote the Irish national anthem “The Soldier’s Song”

His granny, Christine English, was the main support of the family; by owning many properties in Dublin. She may also have given Brendan a taste for alcohol. A biographer, Ulick O’Connor, wrote: “At age eight, Brendan was returning home with his granny and a crony from a drinking session. A passer-by remarked, Oh, my! Isn’t it terrible ma’am to see such a beautiful child deformed? How dare you, said granny. He’s not deformed, he’s just drunk.”

Early IRA involvement cause Brendan to be imprisoned for 3 years in the U.K. at age sixteen. Later he would be sentenced to 14 years in an Irish prison, only to be released early in an amnesty. These experiences gave inspiration to much of his writings. In fact, he wrote The Landlady, while Imprisoned.

In 1954 his play, The Quare Fellow, eventually propelled Brendan to fame and fortune. It depicted a man in prison who was set to be executed the next day. You need to realize that ‘quare’ only meant ‘odd’ back then. The Quare Fellow never appears in the play; just those who were digging his grave and the prison officers.

The next ten years saw Brendan as the toast of the literary world. His appeal to all was stoked by his appearances in public while being toasted. In fact, he strived to be known as ‘carouser-in-chief’. His friendship with Jacky Gleason played off of that persona. Sadly, this would lead to his downfall; as he did find fame difficult.

In 1964 at age 41, Brendan Behan died in Dublin and Brendan’s favorite drink, Champaign and Sherry, was his downfall. Among his many sayings, he often said he believed “there was no really bad publicity, except for one’s own obituary.”

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
February 9, 2017

The Day of the Rope

Christmas and New Years are in the rear-view and everyone is getting caught up and staying warm. Next month our County meeting is not on Valentine’s Day, so we should be clear until St. Patrick’s High Holy Days.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Pittsburgh will be held on Saturday, March 11 this year, six days before the day. Many other areas will march on Friday, March 17 in their own parade. This is going to jam up the Girardville St. Patrick’s Parade and caused it to be pushed back to Saturday, March 25, two weeks after our parade. This is the second time the Girardville Parade was two weeks after our parade. The year was 2008 and it was due to a conflict with an early Holy Week and Easter.

The Hibernian House in Girardville is the center of their celebration and it was once owned by an Irish Greenhorn, John Kehoe, A.K.A. Black Jack Kehoe. The Parade is hosted by AOH Division 1, Girardville; the Black Jack Kehoe Division.

The theme of this year’s Girardville Parade is: The day of the rope. This year is the 140th anniversary of the hanging of John Kehoe and 19 other miners in 1877. Their crime was trying to improve mine working conditions. As an example: There were 110 miners killed in Luzerne Co at the Avondale Mine in a fire because the owners wouldn’t finance a secondary exit. In a seven-year period, 566 miners died and 1,655 miners were injured in accidents in Schuylkill Co.

John Kehoe was pardoned by PA Governor Milton Shapp in the late 1970’s. His speech noted that the men who died were Martyrs to Labor and heroes in the struggle to establish a union and fair treatment for workers.

The present owner of the Hibernian House is Joe Wayne, the great grandson of Black Jack Kehoe. Parade Day you will see Joe Wayne along the side cheering the marchers and later he will be topping off your brew at the Hibernian House.

The Girardville 2017 Parade internet site says we should: Save the date – Saturday, March 25th, 2017- and join the fun as we honor St. Patrick, Jack Kehoe, the Molly Maguires, and all things green!

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
January 21, 2017


The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922 created the Irish Free State and immediately drove a wedge between some factions of the IRA and some factions of Sinn Fein. The treaty required the Irish Parliament to swear allegiance to the Crown and that didn’t sit to well with many Irish. The treaty was signed in December of 1921 and the Irish Civil War began officially in June 1922.

It was 94 years ago today, December 8, 1922, that Irish Nationalist Rory O’Connor was executed by firing squad. He, along with fellow Anti-Anglo Irish Treaty IRA members were put to death by the same men they fought shoulder to shoulder with during the Easter Rising six years earlier. The Easter Rising planted the seeds for uniting Ireland, but five years later the Brits succeeded in negotiating a Treaty that caused those seeds of unity to wither and die.

We all have heard the term: Divide and Conquer. Some attribute this to Karl Marx, but he was only four years old when this was going on in Ireland. This was first written of back in the time of Phillip II of Macedonia (Born 382 BC).

Through the ages, divide and conquer has been used by the Romans, Napoleon, Machiavelli and even James Madison recommended this course of action to President Thomas Jefferson in his thesis The Federalist #10. He said: “Divide et impera, the reprobated axiom of tyranny, is under certain qualification, the only policy, by which a republic can be administered on just principles.” It is chilling to think our founding fathers may have used this to control our young democracy. In fact, this sounds like what we are going through in America after the elections.

The AOH Moto of Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity does not always stress the importance of Unity. This is what determines the core strength of the Irish People in the world. Once the wedge is driven, the cause is lost. We all need to occasionally step back and take the long view of what is going on around us.

“Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. Yet those who do study history are also doomed to stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it.”

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
December 8, 2016

Last Witch Executed in Salem MA

We are fast approaching Samhain or Halloween. Get ready to be inundated with images of black cats, ghosts and witches. New England seems to have cornered the market on witches, as there were over 200 accused of practicing witchcraft or ‘the Devil’s Magic’ in the 1600s. The hysteria came to an end on November 16, 1688 when the last witch was executed in Boston. Her name was Ann Glover.

Cromwell was devastating Ireland in the early 1650s when Ann and her husband were gathered up and shipped off to Barbados. As they were Irish peasants, they spoke no English, only Gaelic. To them that was a foreign language. It was in Barbados where Ann’s husband was slain for not renouncing his Catholic faith.

Barbados is where the Irish were given new names, usually the names of their owners. This was because their Irish names were too much for their English overlords to understand. Ann Glover’s true Irish name is lost in history.

The late 1670s found Ann Glover and her daughter living in the American Colonies. It was there she became a servant to the Goodwin Family in the Salem part of the Boston Colony. During a dispute with the Goodwin Children about laundry, the children claimed they were sickened by Ann. A doctor could find no cause for their sickness, so he claimed that it must be due to witchcraft.

Ann Glover was tried and convicted of witchcraft. Her Puritan prosecutors believed that a true witch could not say the Our Father. The proof they used in her conviction was the fact that Ann Glover could only say the Our Father in Gaelic. For this, she was convicted and hung as a witch on November 16, 1688.

History would redeem itself and Ann Glover, who was also known as Goodie Glover, would later be honored with a plaque and a memorial in North End Boston. At that memorial Ann Glover is recognized as the first Catholic Martyr in Massachusetts. Her memory is also celebrated every November 16th in Boston as Goodie Glover Day.

So, when you see those black cats, ghosts and witches; take a moment to remember the last witch and martyr executed in Salem for her Catholic Faith: Goodie Glover.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
October 20, 2016

Fr. Thomas Nicholas Burke

In the early 1870s the Irish Great Hunger of the mid-1840s was a dim memory for the American People. In fact, many Irish Americans were starting to lose sight of how horrible this event was for the Irish People. At that time the famous English Historian, James Froude, was touring America spewing ideas arguing that the problem in Ireland was caused by too little control exercised by the English.

Froude cited his earlier work titled English in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century where he favored Protestantism over Roman Catholicism and used that pretext to justify England’s treatment of Ireland. In the Protestant communities of America his lectures were starting to gain traction.

As a lad of 17 in 1847, Thomas Burke lived through the worst of the Great Hunger and it had a sobering effect. Later that same year he dedicated his life to God and received the habit of St. Dominic. Trained in both Philosophy and Theology, Fr. Thomas Burke was recognized as a Catholic Theologian. His skills were why he was chosen to accompany Bishop Leahy to the First Vatican Council in 1870.

The following year, 1871, he was assigned as Visitor to Dominican Communities in America. He was besieged with invitations to preach and lecture. The seats for his gatherings were filled hours before he was to speak. In 18 months, Fr. Thomas Burke gave over four hundred lectures (not counting sermons) and he generated over $400,000 for the Dominican Communities (or $7,844,000 today). Many of Fr. Burke’s lectures were aimed at the presentations given by James Froude.

Fr. Thomas Burke basically blew Froude out of the water. So much so, that James Froude cut short his trip to America. He returned to England disappointed both by his impression of America and poor results of his lectures in America.

In 1873 Fr. Thomas Burke returned to Ireland for a decade of preaching in Ireland, England & Scotland. In 1883 Fr. Thomas Burke died and was interred and memorialized in The Dominican Church in Tallaght (TAL – e), just South of Dublin. There is also a statue in his honor in his birthplace; Galway.

You might wonder why Fr. Thomas Burke isn’t a Saint. Then you realize the last Irish Saint, Oliver Plunket, took 700 years to get canonized; and he was martyred!

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
September 8, 2016.

Coffin Ships

Between 1846 and 1851, more than one million sailed from Ireland to America; fleeing An Gorta Mor, or the Great Hunger. Much has been written about the courage and determination of the Irish who crossed the Atlantic in leaky, overcrowded Coffin Ships and made new lives for themselves in America.

A young William Ford traveled to America with his family. He later became the father of Henry Ford. Also, a 26 year-old Patrick Kennedy became the Great-grandfather of John F. Kennedy. The mortality rate of these Coffin Ships was as high as 70% per crossing. I can remember my grandparents talking about the Great Hunger and the ‘trail of bones’ between Ireland and America.

The deck of the Ship Jeanie Johnston was 123 feet long. This did not allow for much individual space for almost 200 passengers on a 47-day crossing. However, it should be noted that not all of these voyages were disastrous. The Ship Jeanie Johnston made 16 crossings carrying 2,500 people and never lost a passenger. In fact, one crossing was completed with one more passenger than when they started.

Dr. Richard Blennerhassett was part of the permanent crew of the Jeanie Johnston. A doctor on board was not standard. On the maiden voyage from Tralee to Quebec a boy was born to Daniel and Margaret Reilly. Nicholas Reilly was born at sea. This crossing started with 193 passengers and arrived with 194 passengers.

Kathryn Miles wrote about Nicholas Reilly in her work titled All Standing. An excerpt picks up on a 31 year-old Nicholas tending bar at O’Brian’s Saloon somewhere on Ohio. Full of all the anxieties of a young father trying to provide for his family, Nicholas was living the life of a greenhorn striving in America. It did bother him that he wasn’t really born in Ireland. However, he had a special feeling about being born at sea. He listed that as his place of birth on documents.

Daniel and Margaret Reilly were very grateful to everyone who made their journey and the birth of Nicholas possible. They acknowledged this when they named their son. Occasionally Nicholas Reilly would need to use his full name on a document. Nicholas Reilly’s given name was: Nicholas Richard James Thomas William John Gabriel Carlos Michael John Alexander Trabaret Archibald Cornelius Hugh Arthur Edward Johnston Reilly. And yes, there were two Johns. When naming Nicholas Reilly, maybe Daniel and Margaret went a little overboard.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
June 16, 2016

Sean MacDermott

May 12th is a noteworthy date in Irish history. On this day 35 years ago in 1981, the second hunger-striker died after 59 days without food. His name was Francis Hughes. I’m mentioning his name because people rarely remember the second of anything. However, his death caused the world to take a closer look at the events in Ireland. Eventually 10 would die trying to get POW status for IRA Prisoners.

Also, on this day 100 years ago John Connolly and Sean MacDermott were put to death by a firing squad for their part in the Easter Rising. Connolly was severely wounded and was only expected to live for a few more days. His sentence was moved up so the British Occupation Forces would not be denied their execution.

Sean MacDermott had seen the signs of An Gorta Mor and the Penal Times around the countryside in rural Co Leitrim. Educated by the Irish Christian Brothers, he worked hard to promote the Irish Language, Gaelic Revival and Irish Nationalism.

Two groups that had an early influence on Sean MacDermott were the Gaelic League and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. It was Sean Mac Dermott’s later association with the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) that drew him into the events leading up to the Easter Rising. Working his way up to Secretary of the IRB made him one of the seven leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916.

He walked with a cane due to polio and wasn’t able to be in the physical fight of the Rising. This limitation did not prevent Sean MacDermott from fighting with other weapons he had; his intellect and his wit. One of the last letters he wrote from prison expressed this thought: “I feel happiness the like of which I have never experienced. I die that the Irish nation might live.” Sean MacDermott and John Connolly were almost the last two executed due to adverse Irish & world opinion.

Let us pause tonight and remember Francis Hughes (age 25), John Connolly (age 48) and Sean MacDermott (age 33) who gave their lives for Ireland on May 12th.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
May 12, 2016

Thomas Meagher (/’ma : r/)

The Easter Rising of 1916 was the first time the Tricolor was flown over the Republic of Ireland. The origin of that flag can be traced back 68 years earlier to a Young Irelander Leader, Thomas Meagher. This Tricolor was a gift given to Thomas by the French and displayed in public for the first time on March 7, 1848. That happened at a Young Irelander gathering in Waterford. The form of this Tricolor was somewhat different then because the Orange was at the hoist side of the flag; not the Green. By The 1916 Rising, the Green was always at the hoist side of the flag.

Thomas Meagher never saw the Tricolor raise over the Republic of Ireland because he was sentenced to be drawn and quartered for his part in the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. The sentence was changed due to international pressure and royal clemency to a life sentence in Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania); made famous by the song: Black Velvet Band.

In the early 1850s Thomas Meagher found his way to New York where he started a weekly newspaper, The Irish News; that didn’t favor the British. Later he scouted Costa Rica as a place of possible Irish immigration. He wrote of those travel experiences in Harper’s Magazine.

Thomas Meagher was commissioned as a Captain in the New York Militia. When the Civil War broke out, he formed Company K of the 69th Regiment or the Fighting 69th. After the Battle of Bull Run, Brigadier General Thomas Meagher returned to NY to lead the Irish Brigade in the Peninsula Campaign; Gen McClellan’s unsuccessful effort to capture Richmond.

After the War, the U.S. rescinded Thomas Meagher’s resignation and sent him to command the Army of Ohio and later he was appointed Secretary of the new Territory of Montana. Almost immediately upon arrival he was made acting Governor of Montana.

General Sherman sent guns and ammunition to help fortify Montana. On a steamboat trip to Fort Benton to receive that shipment, Thomas Meagher fell ill. On the evening of July 1, 1867, he fell overboard in swift currents. His body was never found; giving rise to many theories of his suspicious death. Some suspected a Confederate soldier, others suspected a Native American and there were those leaning toward possible actions of his political enemies. In 1913, 46 years later, a man claimed he murdered Thomas Meagher for $8,000, but he later recanted.

From his first displaying the Tricolors, to his part in the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848, to his exile in Tasmania, to being a newspaper publisher and a magazine contributor in New York, to being a Brigadier in the Union Army in the Civil war, to the Office of Governor of Montana; it is hard to imagine Thomas Meagher died one-month shy of his 44th birthday.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr
April 13, 2016

de Valera & de Gaulle

The tall gangly Captain of the Donnybrook Company surrendered along with others at the Easter Rising. The 33-year-old knew he would be sentenced to death as were other officers. The Court Marshal findings declared Eamon de Valera was convicted and sentenced to death, but the sentence was immediately commuted to penal servitude for life. There was much speculation as to why his life was spared.

Could it be because he was born in America, or because he was not a notorious rebel, or because Irish public sentiment was rising against the British for the executions? Tom Clarke was an American, but he was executed. Some observe he would have been executed if his trial was held one week earlier. Another stroke of luck was his release from prison in June of 1917 under amnesty. The following month his political life began when was elected to the House of Commons.

It was luck like this that followed de Valera through his political career. In 1966, at age 84, he was re-elected president for a term that was supposed to last until 2013, but he retired in 1973 at the age of 90; the world’s oldest head of state

During his term, Charles de Gaulle arrived in Ireland for a ‘quiet holiday’ two weeks after he resigned as President of France. He also wanted to get back to his Irish roots. His grandmother Julia, was descended from Patrick McCartan, who was hanged and beheaded by the British at Carrickfergus in 1653. Patrick’s son, John, left Co Down for France when William the Orange became king in 1689.

Grandmother’s stories about the British made an impression on de Gaulle and had an effect on French & English relations during his presidency. Churchill was noted to say: “The greatest cross I have to bear is the cross of Lorraine” – the symbol used by Charles De Gaulle. France twice vetoed Britain’s entry into the EEC.

After six weeks in Kerry & Connemara, de Gaulle presented himself to President Eamon de Valera and he was warmly received. Both men were devout Catholics and both shared similar feelings about their respective national destinies.

Also in attendance at that gathering were 30 members of the McCartan Clan. They invited Charles de Gaulle to visit Co Down, but the greatest French statesman of the 20th Century declined their offer because Co Down was under British Rule.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
March 10, 2016

Eamon Bulfin

The location was Sackville Street on April 24th, 1916: “Dublin is cloaked in an eerie silence. The Easter Rising is an afternoon old. A horse lies dead by Nelson’s Pillar. I shall not forget the strange atmosphere of that evening,” recalls Charles Wyse-Power. His is one of 1,770 statements in a time capsule closed in March of 1959. The documents stayed there until the death of the last military-service pensioner who made a testimony about the Easter Rising.

March 11, 2003 the archives were formally opened to the public. From a band of brothers who walked from Meath and Kildare to women smuggling guns, comes a fresh angle on the events of 1916.

The Headquarters of the Rising was the GPO. It was Easter Monday and James Connolly turned to a volunteer officer, Eamon Bulfin, and handed him two flags and said, “Here, have these hoisted on the flagpoles.” Eamon hoisted the flags himself on the flagpoles on either end of the GPO roof. The tricolor was hoisted at the right corner of Henry Street while the traditional green flag with the words ‘Irish Republic” was hoisted at the left corner at Princess Street. The battle peaked at dawn on Thursday and by noon on Sunday the Rising was over.

Dubliners were at first hostile to the rebels because many working-class Irish families had sons serving in the British Army. One by one, the firing squad executions were carried out and Ireland went into a state of shock. These recently released recollections explain why there was a slow swing from ‘quiescent unionism’ towards ‘separatism’ after 1916. This was the true goal of the Easter Rising; to awaken in Ireland the spirit of nationalism.

Eamon Bulfin was sentenced to death by a British military court martial after the surrender; however, the fact that he was an Argentine citizen (born in Buenos Aires) saved his life. He was deported to Argentina. Eamon’s father, William Bulfin, had immigrated to Argentina at the age of 20 as a writer and a journalist. William became the editor and proprietor of a newspaper ‘The Southern Cross’, established in 1875. This is the oldest continuously published newspaper for the Irish in Buenos Aires. He was also a friend of Arthur Griffith and helped launch Sinn Fein.

The Irish General Election resulted in an overwhelming victory for Sinn Fein. Eamon de Valera, President of the Republic, appointed Eamon Bulfin to be the Irish Consul to the Argentine Republic and Eamon Bulfin marshaled the Argentine Irish of 1919 to provide support to the Volunteers in Ireland’s War of Independence.

In 1920, during a county council election, Eamon Bulfin was nominated and elected (in his absence) for a seat on King’s County Council. Their first order of business was to rename the county to the ancient Irish, Co. Offaly.

The Treaty that established an Irish state was signed in 1922. Eamon Bulfin was finally allowed claim his Irish Diaspora and return to Ireland as a citizen of Ireland. He settled in Co. Offaly and died there in 1968.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
February 18, 2016

Three Beers
An Irishman moved into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walked into the pub and promptly ordered three beers. The bartender raised his eyebrows, but served the man three beers, which he drank quietly at a table, alone. The next evening the man again ordered and drank three beers at a time. Soon the entire town was whispering about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.

Finally, a week later, the bartender broached the subject on behalf of the town. “I don’t mean to be prying but folks around here are wonderin’ why you always order three beers and drink them alone?”. “Tis a wee bit odd I would be supposing,” the man replied. “You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America and the other went to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order two extra beers whenever we would partake. This is our way of keeping up the family bond.” The bartender and the whole town were pleased with his answer and with his reverence for family. Soon the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and a source of pride to the hamlet.

Then one day the man came in and ordered only two beers. The bartender served them with a heavy heart. Word flew around the hamlet quickly. Prayers were offered for the soul of one of the brothers. The next day, the bartender said to the man, “Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer our condolences to you for the death of your brother”

The man pondered for a moment then replied, “You’ll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well. It’s just that I, meself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent.”
I apologize for this old lead-in to the 6-week event that started yesterday on Ash Wednesday. However, it is safe to say that this story is more recent than the mid 1800’s. Drinking in Ireland was one of innumerable evils to be avoided during Lent. Other evils were risqué poetry, theatres secret societies, mixed schools (defined as not all Catholic) & dances; especially Polkas!

Abstinence was pretty severe. Meat & eggs were prohibited on all Fri’s and Wed’s, while fish and meat were never allowed in the same meal. Children older than seven were not allowed milk during the six weeks of Lent. Younger children had only a little milk, and babies were to cry “three times” before they received milk on Fast Days.

Fasting was also pretty severe. But it only applied those over 21 who were not engaged in hard labor, suffering from sickness or broken down by old age. It should be noted, any dispensation from Lenten fasting needed to be approved by the Parish Priest.

As we are only one day into Lent, it is still not too late to make your own personal Lenten Resolution. This can also be your way of giving thanks that you are not a Catholic Irishman living in Erin in the mid 1800s.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
February 11, 2016

Michael Dougherty

A short distance off of Skyline Drive is the town of Rappahannock VA. We drove through there during a side trip to see my son and his family in Virginia Beach. The town was pretty sparse and didn’t suggest it had any great military significance. But it was there that a young Irish greenhorn qualified for the Medal of Honor.

Michael Dougherty was born in County Donegal in 1844. The youngest of seven children, Michael and he family emigrated to Philadelphia when he was 15.

August 1862 Michael Dougherty, an 18-year-old, left his hotel job to join the action of the Civil War with the 13th PA Cavalry. Formed in Pittsburgh & Philadelphia, they were known as the ‘Irish Dragoons’. Eventually they became the 117th Regiment (13th Calvary).

Feb 1863 Michael Dougherty and 50 fellow Irish soldiers were captured and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond. Michael was freed in a prisoner swap and rejoined his Unit.

Oct 1863 Michael distinguished himself fighting in an area south of Rappahannock, but he was one of 127 Irish soldiers captured that day and would spend the next 23 months in various prisoner camps in the South, ending up at Andersonville, GA.

He gained freedom in April 1865 and Michael Dougherty was the only survivor of the 127 Irish soldiers of the 13th Cavalry who were also captured with him. It is estimated that ¼ (or 11,400) of the 45,613 Andersonville Prisoners did not survive. Returning to PA was his new goal.

Michael Dougherty was one of 2400 who boarded the riverboat ‘Sultana’ at the Port of Vicksburg bound for St. Louis. At 2 AM that night a boiler exploded and 1800 perished. Michael made it to an island and was rescued the next day and continued his odyssey back to Pennsylvania. On June 27, 1865, at the age of 21, Michael Dougherty was finally discharged.

Michael and his notebook survived and eventually he wrote a book titled: The Prison Diary of Michael Dougherty, Late Company B, Pennsylvania Calvary. This was his graphic accounts of the living conditions at Libby Prison and at Andersonville Prison. His stories generated much controversy. Medal of Honor was awarded to Michael Dougherty 33 years after the Rappahannock event.

Michael Dougherty died Feb 19, 1930 in Bristol PA at the age of 85; living a much less exciting life for his last 64 years. The extraordinary survivor skills Michael Dougherty demonstrated during his Civil War adventures, can probably be traced back to being the youngest of seven children of an Irish immigrant family.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
January 14, 2016

Savanah, Georgia

I often wondered why Savannah, Georgia had one of the longest and largest running St. Patrick Day Parades in the U.S. James Oglethorpe had an idea about creating a utopia in the U.S. and King George of England needed a buffer between the British Carolinas colonies and the dreaded Catholic Spanish in Florida. As a bonus, King George was able to drain down Debtors’ Prison to populate Oglethorpe’s venture. The Georgia Colony was formed in 1733 & named for the king.

There was an Irish presence in the first group to arrive, but there were no Catholics. They were excluded by the first Georgia Charter. In 1734 a storm battered ship limped into Georgia with 40 Irish Catholic indentured servants (read: slaves) that caused Oglethorpe to amend the GA Charter to allow them to stay.

Over 100 years later, An Gorta Mor caused many wayward Irish Catholics to select Savannah as a place to live. They joined their thriving ‘cousins’ and shared their prosperity. Railroads and canals were being build and the slave owners were reluctant to use their slaves for this type of dangerous work. The newly arrived Irish were the natural selection to do the job.

Hard work made strong people and those strong Irish made their St. Patrick’s Day Parade a local staple beginning in 1924 and growing yearly to the grand celebration it is today. In 2016 it will be held on Thursday, March 17, as they don’t move it to the weekend.

I recommend reviewing their parade photos from last year (2015) that are easily available on-line. The throng gathered for their ‘after parade celebration’ reminds me of the after-parade at the Hibernia House in Girardville. The warm March weather in GA allows for some activities we could never hope for ‘up North’. That’s all I’m going to say – see the photos on-line.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
December 10, 2015

Fr. Frank Duffy

Born in 1871, it was tough in the industrial town of Cobourg, Ontario for Frank Duffy to realize his dreams of someday being a teacher. Frank traveled 100 miles west and studied at St Michael’s College, a seminary in Toronto. Working and studying was hard, so he welcomed a one year scholarship, but Frank had no intentions of becoming a priest. A classmate later helped Frank get a teaching job at the college of St. Francis Xavier in New York City. It was there he discovered he did have a vocation for the priesthood and it was there he was ordained a priest.

Frank volunteered for the Chaplin Corp when the Spanish American War started. The shooting war was over by the time he was called to serve, so he volunteered to serve the sick and wounded returning to a hospital at Montauk Point, L.I. This proved to be dangerous because it was there he was stricken with typhoid fever.

At the outbreak of ‘the War to end all Wars’ in 1914, Fr. Frank Duffy was assigned to be the Chaplin of the 69th New York Volunteer Infantry. This was the same 69th made famous during the Civil War. Of course, the U.S. Army re-designated the 69th the 165th U.S. Infantry Regiment, making my research a little more difficult. What wasn’t difficult was following the accomplishments of the Fighting 69th and Fr. Frank Duffy in France and Germany during WW I.

When the smoke cleared, Fr. Frank Duffy became the most decorated cleric in the history of the U.S. Army. The City of New York created Duffy Square in a section of Times Square. There you will find the only monument to a priest in New York City. In the 1940 movie, The Fighting 69th, Fr. Frank Duffy was immortalized by the screen actor Pat O’Brian.

In 1927, Al Smith was a Catholic running for President. Fr. Frank ghost-wrote a rebuttal for Al Smith explaining how a Catholic could serve as a loyal President. The ideas he presented then seem to be very similar to the ideas expressed in the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom written in the ‘60s.

Fr. Frank Duffy served as pastor of Holy Cross Church in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen until he died in 1932. With all the accomplishments of Fr. Frank Duffy, it is a little difficult to focus on the fact that he was a great American Military Veteran.

Ollie Jedlick
November 19, 2015

Fall Colors

Scientists estimate 26,500 years ago (@24,500 BC) was the time when the glaciers covering most of North America, Europe and Asia started to subside. The Emerald Isle was finally free of ice over 10,000 years later (@16,000 BC), but it really didn’t become an island for another 4,000 years (@12,000 BC) due to rising seas.

Agriculture in Ireland began over 6,000 years ago (@4,000 BC). The daily pressure of the hunter/gatherer to provide, gave way to reaping a harvest and enjoying the fruits of their labors. For the Division 1 Communion Breakfast we are usually treated to a colorful display of fall leaves awaking feelings in us that our ancestors may have felt around this time of year. This was a time to celebrate and what better way to celebrate than telling stories around fires warming the fall chill?

Powered by fertile imaginations, our ancestors conjured up stories of Fairies, Banshees, Leprechauns and (as my Grandmother would say) the Wee People. The term “Fairy Tale” didn’t appear in print until the 17th century, but the Irish were telling these stories long before that.

Science tells us that the onset of Global Warming was over 26,000 years ago. We are presently coming out of the latest ice age (called the Pliocene – Quaternary) and there have been a dozen or so major glaciations of the northern hemisphere over the last million years.

Modern Humans were slowly coming out of Africa about 60,000 years ago, so they were not really a factor in the present melting of glaciers. My son, a weather professional for the US Navy for the better part of a quarter century, assures me that humans causing Global Warming is one of the biggest fairy tales ever told.

Ollie Jedlick
October 11, 2015
Communion Breakfast

Mary Mallon

Last May I presented a report about the most dangerous woman in America in the 1800s. She was Mary Harris Jones (AKA Mother Jones); a union organizer. Tonight, I’m reporting on Mary Mallon; also called the most dangerous woman in America, but in the 1900s. Both women were born in Ireland. There the comparison ends.

Mary Mallon was born in County Tyrone and arrived in America at the age of fifteen. She lived with an aunt and learned cooking and by her early thirties she was employed by wealthy families. Mary would not stay very long with any one family. She would move on when they no longer needed her skills. In truth, her employers were usually hospitalized and she had no one to serve.

The curious coincidence was her travels usually coincided with outbreaks of Typhoid Fever. It took over seven years for health officials to bring all the pieces together and decide there must be a connection. Mary didn’t agree, so she would flee and change her location and her name frequently. What she couldn’t change was the result of her cooking for families. They would soon be ’ground zero’ for the latest typhoid outbreak with Mary Mallon being the common denominator.

In 1907, Mary Mallon was quarantined and health officials tried to determine why she was an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever. It was during this quarantine that the American Journal of Medicine coined the name ‘Typhoid Mary’ to describe her condition.

In 1910, Mary was released from quarantine and directed to stay away from food preparation. She was employed as a laundress, but soon changed her name and returned to cooking because it paid better. This began a five-year typhoid terror for the New York area. Mary was finally traced to a typhoid outbreak at the Sloan Hospital for Women & she was captured bringing food to a friend on Long Island.

There were three deaths directly attributed to Mary, although due to the many aliases she used, it is speculated that she may have caused as many as fifty deaths.

Mary Mallon died in 1938 at the age of 69 still under quarantine for 23 years. I doubt today the ACLU would let someone’s rights be trampled is such a way.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
September 10, 2015

John Kane an American Painter

Born in Scotland in 1860, John Kane was to be the oldest of seven children of an Irish family looking for a better life. Ten years later, his father died and young John quit school and worked in a shale mine and at a paraffin works to help his family survive. His mother, Biddy, remarried and she and his step father moved to America. John, at the age of 19, soon followed and found himself in Braddock.

Young John found work with the B&O RR, National Tube in McKeesport, the Coke Ovens in Connellsville and mining in AL, TN & KY. Each job change was to get a better wage. Mine work and family brought John back to the Pittsburgh area.

In 1891 John Kane lost his left leg 5” below his knee from a late-night RR accident. He was fitted with an artificial limb and worked as a watchman for the B&O. John married Maggie Halloran at St. Mary’s downtown and they had a son six years later. When their infant son died of Typhoid, John went into a downward spiral of drinking, depression and wandering.

Working in Akron in 1910 as an itinerant painter and carpenter, John would do pictorials on discarded construction material. At the close of WWI, John found his way back to Pittsburgh, but he was not back with his family. In the mid 1920’s John began to paint in earnest and presented his works for professional review. He was not encouraged by what they were saying.

In 1927, this 67-year-old won recognition and set the artistic world on its ear. It is estimated that John Kane produced 120 to 130 works in his lifetime. There were five of his works discovered in the estate of the recently deceased Richard Scaife.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has three works of John Kane and the Carnegie has the largest group, with seventeen in their collection. Some of the works of John Kane were sold for $50,000, and others, as much as $250,000.

When John Kane died in 1934, he was living in a modest tenement in the Strip District and he is buried in Calvary RC Cemetery. The works of John Kane were so new; there wasn’t a market for it in his time. Sometimes those who are blessed with vision may not really be blessed.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
June 11, 2015

Mother Jones

May 1st, 1837, Mary Harris was born on the North side of Cork City, Ireland. Her parents were devout Roman Catholic tenant farmers. She and her family moved to Toronto when she was in her teens. It was there she received her Catholic education. Her family later moved to Michigan where she taught in a convent.

Mary Harris moved to Chicago and later to Memphis where she met and married George Jones, a member and organizer of the National Union of Iron Moulders. Just prior to the Civil War, she started a Dress Shop. Mary Jones and her husband and their four children were making it until a Yellow Fever epidemic hit Memphis.

Mary survived, but she lost her whole family. With nothing to hold her, she returned to Chicago and started another Dress Shop. This venture was also doomed, as she lost her business and all her possessions during the Chicago Fire.

Labor unrest was everywhere in Chicago in the late 1800’s. Mary Jones worked for their cause and strongly believed that a working man deserved wages that would allow women to stay home and care for their children. Soon Mary Jones was an organizer and educator for United Mine Workers. She marshalled the wives and children of the striking miners throughout the U.S.

At a trial in West Virginia the prosecutor was quoted as saying: “She comes into a state where peace and prosperity reign . . . crooks her finger and twenty thousand contented men lay down their tools and walk off.” He also referred to Mary Jones as the most dangerous woman in America, later she was known as Mother Jones.

She was not popular with members of the Women’s Vote Groups of that era mainly because she was against women’s suffrage. Mother Jones also believed that neglect of motherhood was a primary cause of Juvenal delinquency.

Mother Jones had philosophical differences with her R C Priest brother in Toronto and I’m not sure if Mother Jones would wholly embrace those who named an investigative magazine in her honor. All in all, it is pretty amazing when you realize Mother Jones was the daughter of simple Irish Catholic tenant farmers.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
May 14, 2015

The Rising Centenary

There are two dates to watch next year: March 27, 2016, will be Easter Sunday and Saturday, April 23, 2016 – the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising. These two events will be 27 days apart. Will the Rising Centenary be celebrated on Easter or will it be celebrated on the 100th anniversary of the date of the Rising? Most will choose to mark the 100th anniversary of the date: April 23, 1916.

Earlier this month the Irish Government recognized many of the plans Americans are making to celebrate this event. The New York AOH is one of the many from that city to be recognized. They will celebrate the weekend of April 22nd to 24th

The Irish Government also noted some other countries that will be celebrating. They are: the UK, France, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and Canada.

Along with New York, some of the other US cities listed for events are: Cleveland, Chicago, Baltimore and Cincinnati. Sadly, Pittsburgh is not cited in that group. This does not mean this event will not be celebrated by Pittsburgh.

The 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic was signed by seven Irish Patriots; five of whom were influenced by their time in the US. It should also be noted that the United States is the only foreign country specifically mentioned in the 1916 Proclamation. The second paragraph reads:

“Having organized and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organization, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, through her open military organizations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she [Ireland] now seizes that moment, and supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.”

We exiled children in America (specifically Pittsburgh) need to let the Irish World know how we are going to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising next year. (NOTE: I found out there are 20 entities involved with this endeavor).

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
April 9, 2015

Stephen Girard

The gathering begins next Saturday at 0 dark 30. It is our annual Girardville pilgrimage to honor our fellow Hibernians in Schuylkill County. We are also honoring simple Coal Miners (Molly Maguires) who were martyred trying to gain worker’s rights before there were unions.

There are slightly more than 1,700 full time residents who will welcome 20,000 ‘guests’ for this, their 12th annual event. The town is named after one of the richest and also one of the unluckiest persons who ever called Pennsylvania ‘home’. That man was Stephen Girard.

Born in Bordeaux in 1750, Stephen Girard was a 14-year-old when he went to sea and by age 23 he was a Captain. He stood about 5’6”, had bright red hair and was born with a disfigured, sightless right eye. Later in life his wife went insane 8 years into their marriage. She needed constant care for over 20 years and never gave him and heir. The only thing Stephen Girard had going for him was his passion for his work.

Stephen Girard started trading from Philadelphia to the West Indies and prospered. The American Revolution caused him to abandon shipping and set up business in New Jersey and later Philadelphia that also prospered. After the Revolutionary War, he purchased many ships and continued trading in the West Indies. This venture also prospered.

Now a U.S. Citizen, his adopted country decided to sell the 1st National Bank in early 1812. Stephen Girard bought the assets and started Girard’s Bank. When the War of 1812 was favoring the British, Steven Girard ‘loaned’ the US $8 million to help in the war effort. That investment in 1813 proved to be the help the US needed to secure a victory over the British.

That wasn’t the only way Girard influenced the US. He was honored for his work during the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia. He established a hospital and brought doctors who were familiar with treating the disease. What is less known is the help he provided for refugees of wars in the West Indies. He brought them to Philadelphia. Some say this is also what brought Yellow Fever to Philadelphia. The Yellow Fever epidemic may have caused the U.S. President and the US Congress to flee Philadelphia for the District of Columbia.

Stephen Girard lived from 1750 to 1831. The 67 tracts of land he purchased at auction in 1830 around Girardville happened when he was 80 years old. He died the following year. Those who received the assets of Stephen Girard later built the office to run the Girard Estate on Mahanoy Avenue. That site is the present location of St. Vincent de Paul RC Church and Rectory. The massacre of the Molly Maguires didn’t happen until 1878; over 40 years later.

If you are going to march in the Girardville St. Patrick’s Day Parade and get separated from our group, remember this address: 21 Beech Street. We all meet there at the Hibernian House and lift a few to honor our Irish Heritage in Pennsylvania.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
March 13, 2015

Pancake Day

This coming Tuesday in Ireland there is a holiday known as Pancake Day. The ingredients in pancakes are said to represent various values. For example: eggs represent creation; flour represents the staff of life; salt represents wholesomeness and milk represents purity. These pancakes are rolled into a cigar shape and seasoned with various flavors. Lemon and powdered sugar seems to be the most popular, although meat and spices are also used. The number of pancakes that a child consumes is the subject of bragging rights the next school day.

The rest of the world sees next Tuesday as Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday; the day before Ash Wednesday which is the first day of Lent. The Irish are said to give up meat, eggs & dairy during Lent, so Pancake Day evolved as the day that these ingredients need to be consumed prior becoming forbidden. I think the attributes assigned to these ingredients was added later due to the poetic license the Irish are known to exercise. Some call this Blarney.

Ash Wednesday signals the beginning of the forty-day Lenten period where we are each expected to undergo our own purification in anticipation and honoring the day when Christ was crucified and the day Christ is raised from the dead. Our sacrifice could never reach the magnitude of the sacrifice Christ made for us.

The early Church celebrated Christ’s crucifixion on March 25. When Christianity was brought to middle European Pagans, Christ’s Resurrection replaced the Pagan celebration of Eastre; the Pagan Goddess of Spring and fertility. Her celebration was aligned with the vernal equinox and represented the cycle of life (rebirth and regeneration). This belief was an easy alignment with Christianity’s celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ.

Christ’s death and resurrection and the pagan rebirth and fertility were combined by the adopt and adapt process Christianity uses in the assimilation of Pagans. Now the Pagans celebrated Christ’s death and resurrection and Christianity had adopted the name Easter and applied it to Christ’s resurrection. The downside is Easter is now a moving Holy Day.

The short definition for determining the date is: Easter Sunday is the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon. To understand what that means you need to know the meaning of the Ecclesiastical Full Moon and the Astronomical Full Moon. The calculations started with Pope Julian in the early 300s and was finalized by Pope Gregory XIII in the late 1500s.

In a previous report I recommended that you can also determine Easter by using that calendar you got in the back of Church earlier this year. I found that method to be the most accurate. This year Easter is April 5th unless you are Eastern Rite then it is April 12th. What, two Easters!

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
February 12, 2015

Margaret Haughery

Earlier this month the International Irish Community had their collective shorts in a wad because of an article claiming an Irish Television Channel was going to make a situation comedy about the Great Hunger. The young Irish lad at the center of this event studied the film industry at UCLA and probably concocted the idea in an effort to get his name out there; which is why I will not mention it here.

Since 2008, Ireland has made an annual recognition of An Gorta Mor at a host city in Ireland. In 2009 the practice was expanded to include an international city to co-host this event. New Orleans was the co-host in 2014 complete with an Irish delegation and many stories of how An Gorta Mor impacted New Orleans.

Margaret Gaffney was born in Ireland in 1813 and she and her parents came to America in 1818. Her parents died in a Yellow Fever epidemic in 1822 leaving this nine-year-old to fend for herself. A Welsh woman who traveled with her family took her in. In 1835 Margaret married an Irishman named Charles Haughery . Due to her husband’s health, the couple with their infant daughter moved south. By 1837 Margaret lost her both her husband and her daughter.

Illiterate, orphaned and widowed, Margaret worked in a laundry and managed to volunteer at a children’s asylum run by the Sisters of Charity. The Irish displaced by An Gorta Mor were starting to arrive in New Orleans and needed help. Her needs were such that she also managed to make donations to this noble cause.

Margaret saw a need for the children to have fresh milk. She purchased two dairy cows and would sell the excess milk from a dairy cart. This was the beginning of a very successful business. Margaret rescued a bakery from bankruptcy and soon had a bakery cart selling products. Margaret touched the lives of many orphans, elderly, ill and poor during her life. When she died in 1882 at the age of 69 Margaret Haugery was given a state funeral attended by thousands and her fortune went to all the orphanages in New Orleans regardless of their affiliation.

A monument to Margaret was created 1884 and it is recognized as the first public monument dedicated to a woman in the United States. Margaret Haughery is a name that I will mention.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
January 15, 2015

Tad Riley

I just completed reading Blue Moon over Cuba. This is a recent in-depth story of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. The Russians were trying to set up medium range nuclear missiles 90 miles from the US Mainland. Their presence was suspected and the U2 spy plane was making high altitude photos of suspicious activities, but the quality of their surveillance attempts was inconclusive. The decision was made to do low level photo runs over the island.

The F8 Crusader was a single engine, single seat supersonic fighter. There were two models available; the F8A and the F8B with four 20 MM auto cannons and sidewinders. The photo recon version was the RF8A; a stripped-down version with a high efficiency tail design, but no guns or sidewinder hard points. The cameras: were capable of shooting 5” film at a rate of 3 frames per second.

VFP-62 based at NAS JAX was selected for this mission. On the morning of Oct 23, 1962 six Crusaders departed NAS Key West on Boca Chica Key. Swinging East over the Atlantic then South suggested a destination of Guantanamo on the south side of the Island of Cuba. Instead of landing, they headed North in three two plane groups: one leading and one trailing left or right covering as much real estate as they could for their 500’ high surprise visit to our southern neighbor.

When they went ‘feet dry’ (over land) they were just under Mach One. Their altitude was too low for the Russian SAMs (Surface to Air Missiles) that were operational. All they could do was watch the departing Crusaders screaming overhead as they headed for NAS JAX. Their photos were then transferred to DC and were presented later that day at a UN Security Council meeting.

The Irish connection was the second in command of this operation, Lt. Cdr. Riley. He and his fellow pilots were awarded the Navy Flying Cross for their efforts.

I served in VF-661, a Squadron of F8Hs, while I was on active duty in the late ‘60s. When I was a civilian, I stayed in the reserves and I was assigned to VFP-206; a Squadron of RF8Gs. Blue Moon over Cuba mentioned that the last US F8s flying were the birds in VFP-206 and the RF8Gs were remanufactured RF8As. Now I can’t help wondering if I was ‘wrenching’ on some very historic aircraft.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
December 11, 2014

Tullamore DEW

It is said that Cahir Mhor, and Irish Chieftain, had 30 sons. The time was 120 A.D. in central Ireland. His eldest son, Ros, presided over a large tract of country in the Irish Midlands. The land was rich in grain growing. An annual thanksgiving offering of a sheaf of grain evolved into grinding of that grain into a barrel of warm water to allow it to ferment. Eventually the process added boiling and distilling to produce Uisge Beartha; a crystal clear liquid. The Anglo corruption of this term is said to be the origin of the term whiskey.

Clan gatherings at the area called Tulach Mhor increased in popularity with the ‘fine tuning’ of the processing of Uisge Beartha. In the fifteen hundreds, Uisge production was mostly dedicated to ‘medicinal’ usage.

The Tullamore Distillery was started by Michael Molloy. In the early eighteen hundreds the Daly Family took over the Tullamore Distillery. Bernard Daly (Michael’s nephew) prospered, but his son Captain Bernard Daly had little interest in the business.

Captain Daly selected Daniel E. Williams to run the distillery and the success he brought to the operation exceeded all expectations. As a tribute to the success under the management of Daniel E. Williams, the main product was renamed Tullamore DEW; by adding his initials to the flagship product’s name.

The Daly Family is no longer owners. The brand was sold in 1953 and the Tullamore Distillery was closed and moved to County Cork. In 2010 the Tullamore Distillery was sold again. The reported sale price was 300 million Euros. The present owners intend to return the manufacturing process to Tullamore. As of 2013, the production of Tullamore DEW is about 850,000 cases per year. This is almost double their production of 2005. They must be doing something right.

Daniel E. Williams died in 1921 after 60 years of service to the Tullamore Distillery, but his legacy lives on as his initials are still on Tullamore DEW.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
November 2014

Francis Browne SJ

Last month I went on my first cruise and I can tell you I was very reluctant. I can also tell you I had the time of my life.

The cruise line was Holland America and one of the most pleasant surprises was the fact that there was a Catholic Mass celebrated every day. I found out later that Holland America has a priest on every one of their voyages. Adding to that pleasant surprise; our priest was from Ireland.

Our Chaplain was Fr. Michael Conway, a retired parish priest from Co. Sligo, Ireland. He is one of many members of AOS or Apostleship of the Sea, the organization that provides the link between Catholic Priests and the cruise lines.

Fr. Conway said he was a last-minute replacement and almost didn’t make his connection from Ireland to Vancouver BC. Very pleasant surprises often come because of a lot of luck. One of his homilies was the inspiration for this report.

Francis Browne never met his mother as she died shortly after he was born. His father died in a swimming accident when Francis was only nine years old. Uncle Robert saw to it that Francis received an education and gave him his first camera; the instrument that recorded many events during his life.

At seventeen, Francis traveled throughout Europe gathering photos and living all the experiences available. At nineteen he entered a Jesuit Seminary in search of more meaningful values to digest all that he had seen and experienced so far.

Uncle Robert gave the young seminarian a ticket on a new luxury liner due to sail from England to France and then to Ireland. Francis had not taken his final vows and Uncle Robert wanted him to be sure before he made his final commitment. It should also be noted that ‘Uncle Robert’ was also known as the Bishop of Cloyne.

Aboard ship Francis met an American couple going on to New York and they became friends. That couple invited Francis to join them on the ‘England to New York’ segment of their journey. In fact, they offered to pay the young seminarian’s way to New York and back. The offer intrigued Francis, so he sent a radio telegram to the Superior of his Seminary asking for his approval.

The port in Ireland was not deep enough for the cruise ship to dock, so those who wanted to come aboard did so on a smaller ship, the Ireland. Also, on that ship was a telegram for Francis from his Superior that said: “GET OFF THAT SHIP.” He gathered his belongings and boarded the Ireland and returned to shore.

The next leg of the cruise liner Titanic was to be its last. Francis Browne had a very large collection of photos published of the ill-fated ship known as: the Titanic Album of Fr. Francis Browne. This was only a small part of the photo collection of Fr. Browne SJ.

From 1897 until his death in 1960, Fr. Browne SJ documented his experiences. As a chaplain for the Irish Guards he participated in nine major battles. Fr. Browne SJ was wounded five times, but he always petitioned to be sent back whenever he recovered. One of his photos is titled “Watch on the Rhine” and it is considered the classic image of World War I.

In 1985, 25 years after he died, a metal trunk was discovered that contained the negatives of many of the estimated 42,000 photos taken by Fr. Browne SJ during his life. He had traveled the world from Europe, South Africa to Australia. His subjects included farms, cattle stations, industries, new immigrants and members of Irish orders who lived in these countries. He also compiled photos of almost every town and church in Ireland.

But his photos were not his only claim to fame. In 2012 Ireland issued a stamp with the image of Fr. Francis Brown SJ to mark the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic. Also, a classmate of his at the Royal University of Dublin patterned a literary character after Fr. Francis Brown SJ. James Joyce immortalized Francis as Mr. Browne the Jesuit in his work: Finnegan’s Wake.

Fr. Francis Browne SJ carried that telegram his whole life tucked in his wallet as a reminder of, as he said, “. . . the only time holy obedience saved a man’s life.”

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
October 19, 2014
Communion Breakfast

Francis Browne SJ

Francis Browne never met his mother as she died shortly after he was born. His father died in a swimming accident when Francis was only nine years old. Uncle Robert saw to it that Francis received an education and gave him his first camera; the tool that recorded many events during his life.

At 17, Francis traveled throughout Europe gathering photos and living all the experiences available. At nineteen he entered a Jesuit Seminary in search of more meaningful values to digest all that he had seen and experienced so far.

Uncle Robert gave the young seminarian a ticket on a new luxury liner due to sail from England to France and then to Ireland. Francis had not taken his final vows and Uncle Robert wanted him to be sure before he made his final commitment.

Aboard ship Francis met a couple going on to New York and they became friends. That couple invited Francis to join them on the England to New York segment of their journey. In fact, they offered to pay the young seminarian’s way to New York and back. The offer intrigued Francis, so he sent a radio telegram to the Superior of the Seminary asking his approval.

The port in Ireland was not deep enough for the cruise ship to dock, so those who wanted to come aboard did so on a smaller ship, the Ireland. Also, on that ship was a telegram for Francis from his Superior that said: “GET OFF THAT SHIP.” He gathered his belongings and boarded the Ireland to return to shore.

The next leg of the cruise liner Titanic was to be its last. Francis Browne had a very large collection of photos published of the ill-fated ship known as: the Titanic Album of Fr. Francis Browne. But this wasn’t his only claim to fame. A classmate of his patterned a character after Fr. Francis Brown SJ. James Joyce immortalized Francis as Mr. Browne the Jesuit in his work: Finnegan’s Wake.

Fr. Francis Browne SJ carried that telegram his whole life as a testimony of how obedience can be a life saver.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
October 9, 2014

Mary Schenley

Summers in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh were as exciting as you wanted them to be. When you had a 20” J C Higgins (bicycle), you could cover the area from Carnegie Museum to the Big Islay’s quickly. A trip to the Museum usually went through Schenley Park.

When you were not yet in your teens you could get away with almost anything. On really hot days you would find us wading in the Turtle Spit. This was a fountain just outside the back of the Museum.

The locals called it the Turtle Spit because of the four turtles mounted on the upper level of the fountain with streams of water flowing out of their mouths into the pool that made up the base of the fountain. Later in life I found out that this was the Mary E. Schenley Memorial Fountain.

Mary Schenley was the daughter and only surviving child of Mary O’Hara and William Croghan. The O‘Hara Family was very prosperous and owned a sizable chunk of what was going to be the City of Pittsburgh.

Young Mary Croghan was a wild child and was bundled off to a boarding school in Long Island. Fifteen-year-old Mary Croghan ran off with Captain Edward Schenley, the forty-three-year-old brother-in-law of the headmistress. In 1841 this became Pittsburgh’s scandal of the century.

Years later, William Croghan reconciled with his daughter Mary Schenley and when he passed, the O’Hara land holdings passed to her. In 1889 Mary Schenley started her ‘gifts’ to the City of Pittsburgh. Along with the 400 acres for Schenley Park, her gifts included land for: West Penn Hospital, The School for the Blind, some land for Riverview Park and she donated the Block House to the Daughters of the American Revolution.

To a 12-year-old on a hot summer day in Oakland; the Mary E. Schenley Memorial Fountain was not a monument to a Pittsburgh philanthropist. It was, instead, a great place for a pre-teen to beat the heat.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
September 11, 2014

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

July 4th next month will be the 238th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. On that day in 1776, 56 Americans from 13 British colonies signed what could have been their death warrant if the War of Independence was not won by those Colonies. Eight of the signers were of Irish ancestry; three were native born. However, there was only one Catholic in all those original signers.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton holds the distinction of being the only Catholic. He also holds the distinction of living the longest. John Hancock had the largest signature, but Charles had the longest signature: Charles Carroll of Carrollton.

Daniel O’Carroll was the great grandfather of Charles Carroll of Carrollton. The family lost the “O” during the Penal Times. After Daniel, the family resembles a chronological version of George Foreman’s brood. Daniel’s son became known as Charles Carroll the Settler (the grandfather) to be distinguished from his son Charles Carroll of Annapolis (the father). His name could have been worse; as Charles Carroll of Carrollton was twenty-years-old when his parents married.

Charles was not involved in politics due to laws forbidding Catholics from holding office, practicing law and voting in Maryland. He did engage in written debates supporting Independence. His popularity increased because of the ‘statesman-like eloquence’ of his written articles. Those abilities caused him to be selected to represent Maryland in the Continental Congress and eventually led to his signing of the Declaration of Independence.

When the United States Government was created, Charles Carroll was made the first Senator from the State of Maryland by the State Legislature; while retaining his seat in the Maryland Legislature. In 1792 Maryland enacted a law that limited him to the US Senate or the Maryland Legislature. On November 30, 1792 he resigned from the US Senate to serve Maryland.

In 1801 he resigned from public life and died on November 14, 1832 at the age of 95. Irish Catholic Americans honored Charles Carroll of Carrollton during the 1876 Centennial along with other such notables as John Berry, Father of the US Navy.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
June 12, 2014

Fulton J. Sheen

On May 8th, 1895 (119 years ago today), Peter John Sheen was born in El Paso, IL.; where his family lived in an apartment above his father’s hardware store. Peter was the oldest and smallest of four brothers; sons of Newton and Della Sheen. As an infant, Peter contracted tuberculosis, but was still remembered as the baby that cried the loudest and screamed the hardest of any baby in the family. Relatives say this was his early preparation for the pulpit.

When his sons were getting close to ‘school age’, Newton moved his Irish family a few miles west to Peoria where Peter began his Catholic education with: Catholic grade school, high school, seminary, Universities in Belgium, Rome and Catholic University in Washington DC. Early in life he would not answer when called Peter. Instead, he preferred to be called Fulton, the maiden name of his mother.

While serving in New York in 1930, he began a Sunday night radio broadcast called ‘The Catholic Hour’. During WWII he said the war was not a political struggle, it was a theological struggle. He likened Hitler to the Anti-Christ. Two decades later (1950) his weekly radio audience had grown to 4 million.

In 1951 Bishop Fulton Sheen moved to television opposite Frank Sinatra and Milton Berle and he did surprisingly well. When Uncle Miltie was criticized for using his old vaudeville material on his TV show, he countered that Bishop Sheen had writers that were even older than his. It is a fact that Bishop Sheen often credited his material to his writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

In February 1953 Bishop Sheen denounced Joseph Stalin by saying “Stalin must one day meet his judgment.” The dictator suffered a stroke a few days later and died within a week. Needless to say his TV ratings soared after that.

Bishop Sheen didn’t really project his Irish Catholic heritage. This could have possibly contributed to his universal appeal. However, one of his quotes harkened back to his Irish roots when he said: “Baloney is flattery laid on so thick it cannot be true, but blarney is flattery so thin we love it.”

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
May 8, 2014

John Barry

Young John has his world turned upside down when his family was evicted by their British Landlord from their farm on Our Lady’s Island off the South East coast of Ireland. His father was a poor tenant farmer. They had to relocate to the city where they received support from their extended family. John’s uncle was a captain of a fishing boat and it soon became obvious that John had a talent for the high seas. Starting as a cabin boy, John eventually worked his way up.

John Barry received his first command in 1766 aboard the schooner Barbados. Not too bad for this nineteen-year-old who immigrated to Philadelphia. Maritime trade was bustling and John was traveling regularly to the West Indies. By 1772 all of Philadelphia knew ‘Big John’ by his stature (6’, 4”) and his abilities; as he commanded larger ships to many destinations.

John Barry was commanding the 200-ton ‘Black Prince’ when it traveled 237 miles in a 24 hour period returning from England. This was the fastest day of sailing ever recorded in the 18th Century. He arrived to find out we were at war.

One of the owners of the ’Black Prince’ was the Revolutionary Financier Robert Morris. He recognized that John’s skills were needed to organize naval forces for the emerging colonies. Tales John heard in his youth about the massacre of 3,000 in Wexford by the invading Cromwell forces also was a motivator for John Barry.

In 1776, Captain John Barry, commanding the warship ‘Lexington’, captured ‘HMS Edward’ off the coast of Virginia. This was a morale boost to the Continental forces and established the thirty-one-year-old as a National Hero. I wonder how many of us realized that Tuesday, April 8th, marked that day 238 years ago.

Captain John Barry received his previous commissions from the Continental Congress. George Washington later bestowed United States Commission Number One to Commodore John Barry. Many of our Order will be in Annapolis for the dedication of the Barry Gate, dedicated to the ’Father of the United States Navy’.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
April 10, 2014

The Wee People

In the late 1800s a 19-year-old Barbara Coyne departed her home in the West of Ireland to work as a cook for a wealthy family in Pittsburgh. She met and married John Browne, another young greenhorn who just mustered out of the U.S. Marines and settled in Pittsburgh to be near his brother Mike. They raised their six children in Oakland and I was one of their 16 grandchildren. I was also lucky to be their neighbor; as I’m occasionally reminded of by my fifteen cousins.

After school I went to Grandma’s where she would share stories of Ireland. I still remember her stories of the Wee People. I couldn’t figure out if these were Leprechauns or some other type of diminutive beings. I asked her one day about Leprechauns and she would just say they could be dangerous and that they should be avoided. She said the Wee People were the guardians of nature.

Whether it is the Wee People of Ireland, the Menehune of Hawaii, the Gnomes of Germany or the Pixies in England; it seems many cultures have an oral tradition and wonderful tales about a race of beings that co-exist with humanity. For eons stories have been the way one generation teaches certain truths. It’s amazing that so many of these stories are so similar. What were they trying to teach?

Father Engelbert J. van Croonenburg was a colorful Professor. He could be seen wandering Duquesne’s campus greeting trees, rocks and other seemingly inanimate objects. In Philosophy 101 you could hear him saying that: “One must realize one’s entomological relationship with all reality.” This was totally lost on this eighteen-year-old freshman. Looking back, I wonder if he was just restating concepts my Grandmother tried to share with me.

Cultures around the world once believed all things (rocks, plants, animals, etc.) could experience sensations. These beliefs are rejected by many of us in this ‘rationalist era’ we now live. Well, maybe it isn’t totally rejected. In fact, it may be the prime driver behind the striving of our civilization to pave the whole world. Could it be we really don’t enjoy the sights of a walk in the woods because deep within us are feelings that those same sights might also enjoy watching us?

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
March 20, 2014

Richard Joyce

Born in western Ireland in 1660, young Richard Joyce grew up hearing stories of places on the other side of the sea that lay just outside his village. At age fifteen he became an indentured servant to get passage to the New World. At last he was going to see the places he had heard about in fantastic stories.

Fate stepped in and his adventure took a nasty twist when his ship was captured by Algerian Pirates. Richard was sold into slavery. As luck would have it, he was acquired by a Moorish goldsmith and eventually became his apprentice.

Richard Joyce was able to hone his skills as a goldsmith on the Barbary Coast. This area was one of the crossroads of the world and he was exposed to many artifacts and the design ideas from many lands.

After fifteen years, Richard Joyce was able to buy his freedom and he immediately elected to return to his beloved Ireland. When he returned to the Galway area he settled in a fishing village known as Claddagh; whose name is derived from the Gaelic term for the shore.

Richard Joyce is credited with creating the Claddagh Ring. He borrowed hands from the Fede Rings that had been around since before the Romans. However, his design changed it from two clasped right hands to a left and right hand.

The hands of the Claddagh Ring represent trust and friendship. Held in those hands is a heart that symbolizes love and the heart is topped with a crown that represents loyalty. The simplicity of the hands, heart and crown design is what made this creation of Richard Joyce endure over the centuries.

Claddagh Ring etiquette involves which hand it is worn on and which direction the heart is oriented and their meanings. They are too numerous to mention here. I should mention one superstition that says one should not buy a Claddagh Ring for oneself. However, if you manage to acquire a Claddagh Ring from our Night of Irish Music Auction Table, I believe that would not go against the superstition.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
February 13, 2014


This past Monday morning at midnight we were enjoying 50-degree weather. That was 14 degrees higher than the average of 36 degrees for January 6th. Little did we realize that later that day the temperature was going to be -7 degrees; or a 57 degree swing in one 24 hour period? The fact that we are all here tonight shows our survival instincts are intact and functional – whatever it takes!

We may have inherited our survival instincts from our Irish ancestors, but we didn’t inherit our tolerance for cold from them; for there is no real need for the Irish to tolerate severe cold. In fact, the coldest temperature ever recorded in Ireland was minus 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit back in January 1881.

Ireland is 13 degrees latitude higher on the globe than Pittsburgh, but the winter comparison of high temperatures shows Ireland averages 42 degrees (between 39 & 45 F) while Pittsburgh averages 27.5 degrees (between 20 & 35 F).

Lately we have been dazzled by terms like the polar vortex. They have been there forever, but weren’t discovered until 1853. On Monday, when the polar vortex tipped and caused the jet stream to make frigid temperatures come crashing down on Pittsburgh, Ireland was still holding on to much milder temperatures.

The Gulf Stream heats up the Atlantic by sending warm water North and East. There the North Atlantic Current delivers the heat to Ireland; causing Ireland’s average annual temperatures to stay between 39 & 68 F.

It should be noted that sometimes the heat can be delivered with much vigor. This week Ireland has been taking damage from severe coastal flooding. The People of Ireland are presently honing those survival skills we inherited.

When the smoke clears, the climate of Ireland can still be summed up as being mild, moist and changeable with an abundant rainfall and a lack of temperature extremes. Ireland really doesn’t sound like a bad place to drop the anchor.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
January 9, 2014

Nelson Mandela

This week a 95-year-old freedom fighter died. Imprisoned for 27 years for his opposition Apartheid, Nelson Mandela eventually rose to be the leader of South Africa. What are not known are the connections Nelson Mandela had with the Republic of Ireland and the City of Dublin?

In 1988, Nelson Mandela was awarded the “Freedom of the City of Dublin” while he was still in prison. Two years later, in 1990, he arrived in Dublin to accept the honor. It should be noted at that time Nelson Mandela was still not allowed to vote in South Africa. In his speech he noted how the Republic of Ireland was an inspiration to him during his struggles.

Nelson Mandela was elected leader of South Africa in April 1994. Two years later he returned to Ireland to receive honorary degrees from Trinity College in Dublin and The National University of Ireland in Galway. He served as the leader of South Africa until 1999.

In 1986, Dick Chaney voted against a House Resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela. Years later Dick Chaney became U.S. Vice President. Some say that act may have been noticed and may have contributed to Nelson Mandela not being available to meet US President George Bush in 2003 during his trip to Africa. However, it should also be noted that same year Nelson Mandela was able to make his third trip to Ireland to accept honors at the Special Olympics Summer Games in Dublin.

Nelson Mandela was arguably the most respected statesman the world has seen since the end of the Second World War. His dignity and his determination to achieve democracy for his country and his lack of vindictiveness, when in power, to those who had kept him in prison for 27 years, made him unique in international politics. It is great to realize he was inspired by the Irish People.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr
December 12, 2013


Ten days ago, we celebrated Veterans Day. This holiday was originally started by Woodrow Wilson in 1918 as Armistice Day. It was a national holiday to mark the symbolic ending of the War to end all Wars. The Armistice was signed in a ceremony on the eleventh hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. That war was later called World War I by people in the future looking back because no one at that time could imagine there would ever be a World War II.

But Western Civilization took only 23 years before starting the conflict that would be known as World War II and causing the renaming World War I. At the end of World War II the Armistice Day holiday had a hollow meaning. So, in 1954 Armistice Day became Veterans Day by an Act of Congress. That day is set aside to honor all those who fought in defense of the United States.

One of our veterans we honor is a man of Irish ancestry who was born in Brookline MA towards the end of WWI. By the time WWII began he was a graduate of Harvard and was commissioned in the US Navy. Injured in a battle in the Pacific in 1943, the 26-year-old War Hero had to sit out the rest of the war.

Four year later this 30-year-old was elected to the House of Representatives and later, as a 36-year-old, he was elected to the US Senate. Recuperating from back surgery from a war wound, he wrote a book about heroes that won for him the Pulitzer Prize. He was 38 years old.

Although wounded in WWII, he was anything but disabled. In fact, as a 43 year old, he became active again in the military. He received no bonus when he re-upped because, at the age of 43, he was now the Commander in Chief.

Tomorrow we will mark the 50th year since an assassin cut down President John F. Kennedy at the age of 46. November 22, 1963 was the day it all ended for this writer, congressman, senator, president and veteran.

Many of us look at this event as history, while some of us still look at it a current event. If you ask us, each one can tell you where we were when we first heard the news account of the assignation of President John F. Kennedy. Myself, I am struggling with the realization that he has been gone longer than he was alive.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr
November 21, 2013

Martin Dempsey

Young Martin was born in Jersey City, the second largest city in New Jersey. It is a heavily populated industrial area on the western side of the Hudson River with a beautiful view of New York City. Instead of being exposed to the long hot city summers; Martin would be sent to Donegal, Ireland to spend his summers with family.

Martin’s High School years were in Goshen NY, about 50 miles up the Hudson River from where he was born. The school Martin attended was John S. Burke Catholic HS run by the Sisters of Charity. Part of Burke Catholic’s mission statement says they ‘encourage . . . independent judgment informed by Catholic Christian values and civic responsibility.’

Armed with his Irish Catholic family values, Martin had no trouble handling the rigors of the United States Military Academy at West Point. His military career was interrupted briefly when he received his Master’s degree in Literature from Duke University. His master’s thesis was on the Irish Literary revival.

That interruption didn’t seem to hurt his Army career. Martin worked his way to the top job as the Chief of Staff of the Army. And, on October 1, 2011, Martin became the highest-ranking military officer of all the United States Armed Forces; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In June 2013 Martin was re-nominated for a second two-year term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Martin married his high school sweetheart and they have three children and eight grandchildren. Because family is important, Martin participated in a series developed by Sesame Street, called: Talk, Listen, Connect. There were three episodes dealing with Deployment (with Cuba Gooding Jr.), Homecoming (with Queen Latifah) and Changes; when families grieve (with Katie Couric). At a Press Conference, Martin shared the lectern with a green furry monster puppet named Rosita; who he conceded will appeal to children more than a four-star general.

General Martin Dempsey gave the commencement address for John S. Burke Catholic HS graduating class of 2012, an event he hosted at West Point. Of all his titles, Martin Dempsey is proud to say he is an Irish American.

Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
November 14, 2013