2013-08-28 14:31:15 - The 125th anniversary of the Clare New York Association was marked on Monday evening when members received a Civic Reception from Clare Local Authorities at Áras Contae an Chláir.
Mayor of Clare, Cllr. Joe Arkins said the ceremony was “the people of County Clare’s way of saluting the Clare Association and its members for their sensitive care of generations of Clare emigrants and their contribution to the wider Clare community in New York down through the years.”
The Civic Reception concluded a three-day visit by Association members to Clare, organised as part of the Gathering Ireland initiative. Noel Kilkenny (Consul General of New York) and Cathy Hogan (Association President), whose father hails from Kilkee, were amongst the travelling group.
Events during the ‘Home to Clare’ weekend included an anniversary banquet, a commemorative mass, visits to The Cliffs of Moher and Loop Head, and a heritage and genealogy talk by the Clare
Roots Society for Association members. Meanwhile, members attended a special exhibition at De Valera Library focusing on Clare people in New York. The exhibition will continue to run for a number of weeks.
The County Claremen’s Association of New York was formed in 1888 by a group of patriotic Claremen under the leadership of first President John Clun. It was later renamed the County Clare Patriotic, Benevolent and Social Association of New York.
“People from all walks of life in New York met regularly to discuss the welfare of Clare people and they rolled up their sleeves to provide support and friendship for young people who had left Clare” commented Mayor Arkins.
He continued: “Such supports continue today and on behalf of the people of Clare, I am delighted to join members of the Association in celebrating their special anniversary in Clare. I admire their continued loyalty to the Association’s principles that were adopted 125 years ago - to be united in patriotism to their adopted country and loyal to their native homeland.”
Mayor Arkins acknowledged the contribution of Mary Gleeson, General Manager of the Old Ground Hotel, who he said “carried out a huge amount of work in organising the ‘Home to Clare’ weekend.”
Addressing those in attendance, County Manager Tom Coughlan commented: “It's difficult to put a value on the welcome and the helping hand which the Clare Association extends to Clare people. Arriving in a strange city can be a daunting experience, particularly for young people, and I'm aware that members of the Clare community in New York are proactive in guiding and assisting new arrivals and helping to resolve difficulties when they arise in relation to documentation, employment or other issues.
“It's reassuring for those at home to know that help is available, particularly for young people travelling to New York. Invaluable assistance was also made available to Clare County Council when we arranged an event in New York to promote County Clare, and in particular, Shannon airport. This year of The Gathering is proving to be a turning point for Shannon airport in terms of passenger numbers and I'm confident that the event which was hosted in New York will also prove rewarding in terms of investment in the county .
“I think it is important that we continue to nurture the sense of partnership and friendship that exists. Out of sight should not be out of mind and with the continuing improvement in connectivity between Shannon and New York, I think more opportunities will arise to sustain and grow the relationship which exists between the Clare Local authorities and the Clare Association,” added Mr. Coughlan.
Emigration by Clare men, women and children to New York has been ongoing for over two centuries. Famous Clare citizens who established new lives for themselves in New York have included Pat McDonnell of Doonbeg who became an Olympic Champion and Policeman on Times Square, Mike McTigue from Kilnamona who became a World Champion Boxer, and Ballyea man Paddy Markham who has a Gaelic Football field (Paddy’s Field) named after him in Woodlawn. Other notable Clare-born citizens of New York include submarine inventor John Philip Holland, and Daniel O’Day from Kildysart who oversaw the laying of the first pipe to transport oil to the Big Apple.
Clare people contributed in all walks of New York life, including teaching, carpentry, medicine, labour, law and the army. Down through the years, many shared their rich culture of music and dance and cultivated a love of Irish customs and traditions amongst other members of the Irish Diaspora.