Division takes point again

March 24, Harrisburg.  Once again Cumberland 2 the General William Thompson of the AOH has stepped forward to put the name of the AOH out there, and provide support in any way it can to forward and preserve Irish american history and gaelic culture.

The Harrisburg Saint Patrick’s Day Parade was scheduled for March 24th, with opening ceremonies at 8:30. These ceremonies were scheduled to honor Tom and Romayne McGinnis Grand marshals for this year’s parade, and also to pay respects to their son Spc. Ross McGinnis Medal of Honor recipient.

(R) Tom Kane, President of Cumberland 2, and John Dymond future Associate member of the division (third from right)act as honor guard on capitol hill. Photo by future Associate member Dave Thomas.

Division President acted as Officer in Charge of the honor guard, while Division Recording Secretary Bill irwin performed duties as master of ceremonies.  However other members of the division participated as well.  They included John Dymond in the honor guard, Dylan Thomas as music director and Dave Thomas as official photographer.

After the emotional ceremony, the honor guard consisting of Kane, Irwin and Jim Jones travelled to Saint Patrick’s  cathederal where Mass was celebrated by Bishop Joseph McFadden, and the Honor Guard acted as dual role leading in the procession and acting as honor guard to the Bishop on exit procession.

Dylan Thomas, Sue Thomas, Dave Thomas and little brother Jason Thomas (and Possible FUTURE Division member, ok 10 years from now) at the scholarship presentation

Finally after all this future Associate Dylan Thomas was presented with the Harrisburg Downtown Improvement District’s parade Scholarship of $500 at a ceremony in the Keystone Building. This event was also attended by PA Lt Gov and fellow Hibernian Jim Cawley.

Recording Secretary Bill Irwin and Lt Gov Jim Cawley at the Scholarship presentation. Photo by Dave Thomas.

In spite of the rain (a typical soft weather day in Ireland),and cancellation of the parade the division declared the day’s events a success, with the support provided and attendance at Mass.

Thompson Division of AOH makes papers on Saint Patrick’s Day

The following story appeared on March 17 in the Carlisle Sentinel. Their was one misquote which this editor has corrected…

Local chapter of The Ancient Order of Hibernians hope to dispel St. Patrick’s Day myths

Photo by Jason Malmont, Carlisle Sentinel Ancient Order Of Hibernians local president Tom Kane, left, and recording secretary Bill Irwin, right, display one of their mayoral proclamation naming March as Irish American Heritage Month for the Borough Of Carlisle. The grave site of Brigadier General William Thompson, first Colonel of the U.S. Army, is seen in the background and is located at the Old Town Cemetery, Carlisle.

By Lauren McLane, Sentinel Reporter The Sentinel – cumberlink.com

On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone likes to pretend to be Irish. They think that wearing green attire, aping an Irish brogue, and drinking copious amounts of alcohol makes them Irish.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, AOH or Hibernians for short, is working hard to dispel those myths.

“We’re fighting stereotypes. We call those people ‘plastic Paddies.’ Getting drunk is not Irish. In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a holy day,” Tom Kane, president of the local chapter of Hibernians, said.

Hibernians The Hibernians are an organization committed to their Catholic faith, religious tolerance, Irish heritage and charitable service. Their motto is “Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity,” Kane said.

The Hibernians are an all-male, Irish-only fraternal organization, but membership is open to any Catholic of Irish descent. In addition to the Carlisle chapter, there is also the Michael Collins Division 1 chapter of AOH, which meets in Lower Allen Township in the West Shore area of Cumberland County.

For those who aren’t Irish, but wish they were, the Hibernians offer an associate membership in the club, which is open to any person of any faith or ethnicity.

Locally, there are about 20 to 25 men in the Hibernian chapter, “but those 25 guys do a lot. We’re not a drinking club,” Kane stressed.

Originally founded to protect Catholic priests from persecution by English Christians in Ireland, the secretive organization’s mission was to protect — by arms and to the death, if necessary — the Catholic Church and the priests who were offering masses in secret.

When the Irish began immigrating in large waves to American in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, the group shifted its focus slightly, continuing to protect Catholic churches from anti-Catholic forces and to assist Irish Catholic immigrants.

Today, it continues that mission.

“There are large retail markets that are promoting the Irish as drunks,” Kane said. “The TV show ‘Family Guy,’ attacked Catholics. If it had been any other religion, they wouldn’t have been allowed to do that, but for Catholics, it’s OK? With the criticism of Catholics, we have to join together and say, ‘If you’re anti-Irish, anti-Catholic, we’re going to boycott you.’ We’re trying to make people aware of the discrimination. We’re not going to allow that. The Irish worked too hard to form this country to be insulted.”


Local Irish history dates back before the Revolutionary War, Kane said.

Brig. Gen. William Thompson, for whom the Cumberland County division of the AOH is named, was born in County Meath, Ireland, served as a cavalry officer in the French and Indian War and was a personal friend of George Washington.

A resident of Carlisle, he recognized the need for expert marksmen in the Continental Army and formed a unit of riflemen, primarily Irish, who became known as Thompson’s Rifles, then the Pennsylvania Rifles or the 1st Pennsylvania Militia.

Thompson led his Rifles to Bunker Hill and then to the Battle of New York, where he provided fire cover that allowed Washington and his army to escape.

According to Kane, the shot that ended the Revolutionary War was fired by one of the Pennsylvania Rifles, who had fought in almost every major battle of the war, always led by Irish generals.

Nearly 100 years later, during the American Civil War, Irish brigades from New York were key to the Union army’s successes, including at the Battle of Gettysburg, where, having recovered several hundred of their injured from Fredericksburg, they were able to field nearly 600 men. Several historians, including the late Shelby Foote, have credited their actions in the Wheatfield under the command of Col. Kelly as the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division of the II Corps, under Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock, as being crucial to the battle being won by the North. The brigade has a monument on the Loop on the Gettysburg Battlefield.

Still fighting

“In America, there’s freedom of religion for everyone but Catholics,” Kane said. “The Know-Nothing Party was considered Catholic, with ties to the pope.” …SEE CORRECTED COMMENT BELOW>>>>

(“In America there was freedom of religion for everyone but Catholics,” Kane said. “in politics in the 1800’s there was the Know-Nothing party, who was against the the Irish and Catholics and would not support any Irish canditate thinking all Irish and Catholoics had direct ties to the Pope.”)

“While thankfully much of the open discrimination and hatred of Catholics has passed, there remains a viable purpose for the Ancient Order of Hibernians in preserving their Irish Heritage and the contributions of the Irish and Catholic beliefs and practices they hold so dear. The AOH of today provides patriotic and charitable support to the community and promotes other Christian principles. The AOH supports the Right to Life and charitable causes and opposes government interference with the free exercise of religion and religious principles,” he added.

Recently, the group took on President Obama and the executive order that would have required Catholic institutions and other religious employers to provide birth-control pills to employees through their insurance packages, even though the official church stance opposes contraception in any form.

“We’ve been fighting that, and it seems to be working,” Kane said. “The president seems to have backed off a little.”


Much of what the Hibernians do is charitable work, including assisting families who have lost children; those who are fighting cancer and the expenses related to it; and providing baby supplies, cribs, car seats and other baby items to mothers and organizations supporting mothers in Dauphin and Cumberland counties. They also support local church and community events like Lenten fish dinners, international events, parades and ceremonies.

The Hibernians hold an annual recognition of Our Lady of Knock, whose feast day is Aug. 21, a Mass to commemorate their dead members and members of their family and attend monthly Masses in honor of various Irish Saints. They have formed an honor guard which serves at funerals and wakes, church and civic events and other special events.

And this year, everyone in Carlisle can be Irish by association. By official mayoral proclamation, on Feb. 9, Bill Kronenberg declared March “Irish American Heritage Month” in Carlisle.

“Carlisle is rich in the Gaelic culture, having been settled by Irish immigrants who lived in Carlisle and farmed the Cumberland Valley,” Kronenberg wrote in his proclamation.


March 17 Letter to the Carlisle Sentinel Editor

A salute to the mayor

Dear Editor:

Rarely does a citizen have the opportunity to praise a public official for something done right, but today I want to do just that and explain how the actions of our local mayor placed little Carlisle ahead of the entire state in terms of recognizing a valuable asset and heritage of his local community.

I serve as the president of the local Ancient Order of Hibernians, a not for profit organization established to promote its Catholic and Irish heritage and beliefs and to protect against any attacks or criticism of that proud heritage. We are a very small organization in this community, but are proud of our community, its strong Irish American Heritage and the charitable and patriotic accomplishments of these valued members of this community.

Our Division namesake is General William Thompson, a revolutionary war hero born in Ireland, who lived and died in Carlisle and is buried in the old town cemetery. Our organization was formed to fight discrimination against Catholics and Irish in the early days of the formation of this country. Thompson saw the need for us all to unite as a people and he led Protestants, Catholics and Jew in a common cause and explained how we would someday have to live together as brothers. His Continental Rifles became known as the Irish Line, a united and effective fighting force.

On the 9th of February 2012, long before anyone else was thinking about St. Patrick’s Day and the contributions of the Irish to their local communities, William Kronenberg, new Mayor of Carlisle, took the opportunity to declare March “Irish American Heritage Month” by Official Proclamation.

He said “Carlisle is rich in the Gaelic culture having been settled by Irish Immigrants who lived in Carlisle and farmed the Cumberland Valley.” He led the Commonwealth in making this proclamation and many have followed since, but little Carlisle was first to make this recognition and we as people of Irish Descent appreciate his actions and recognition of our people and our heritage.

At this time of year when being Irish is often depicted by drunkenness, green plastic shamrocks and insulting and debasing caricatures of the Irish People and our Catholic Faith, it is nice to have someone recognize what the Irish people are really all about; pride in their heritage and faith, service to community and love of freedom, country and God. go raibh míle maith agat (Thank you very Much).

Thomas Kane


March is Irish-American Heritage month in Carlisle

It’s official, March 2012 is Irish-American Heritage month in Carlisle, Pa.  The proclamation was made official by Carlisle’s new Mayor William Kronenberg.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, General William Thompson, Cumberland County Division 2, sincerly thank his Honor the Mayor for his efforts and this Proclamation.

We will continue to serve our community and church as we celebrate our heritage and reach out to those in need, “In Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity.”

New Division Division Display

On February 18, at the annual Saint Patrick’s Parish International Festival, the Division rolled out its’ new display.  This display is versitle, easy to use and will help the Division spread the word regarding faith, community, heritage and the division.

From all accounts it was quite a hit as it could be seen from across the crowded hall with relative ease.

The festival saw Jim, Andy, Jeremiah McGinnis, Bill Wiley, Jim Jones and Bill Irwin pitching in to make the event a success.