By Ray O’Hanlon
The Ancient Order of Hibernians aren’t heading for the hills. But they are heading for the trees.
The 166-year-old Catholic fraternal order is gathering at the Foxwoods resort and casino in Connecticut in a few days for its 91st biennial national convention.
The convention is being held over three days from Monday through Wednesday, June 24- 26.
The gathering of members marks an end to the presidency of the Florida-based, but Connecticut native, Tom Gilligan and the expected election to the top AOH post of Pennsylvania’s Ned McGinley, the current national vice president.
While about 1,000 people are lined up to attend the convention, fewer than half that number are accredited as voting delegates.
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Nominations for a two-year term as president are accepted from the floor, but with the Pennsylvania delegation being the largest state grouping, McGinley is being seen as the most likely successor to Gilligan.
The election of the president will take place on Tuesday the 25th with a formal installation dinner the following night.
Resolutions being placed before the delegates include one — from Hibernians in Worcester, Mass. — that would permit full membership of the order to women. At present, women can join the separate Ladies AOH but not the full all-male Hibernian order.
This resolution, at the same time, does not suggest any disbanding of the Ladies AOH.
Another resolution, also out of Div. 36 in Worcester, proposes to open AOH membership to spouses of Ladies AOH members regardless of ethnic background.
Yet another resolution argues that the AOH should not be linked with any one political party or organization in the U.S.
A number of speakers have been lined up for the convention and they include newly elected Sinn FTin TD Martin Ferris, Fr. Aidan Troy of the Holy Cross Monastery and Holy Cross School in Belfast, and Jon Hallingstad, author of a new book about the late Bishop Fulton Sheen.
On Sunday evening, before the convention officially gets under way, Ned McGinley will present Chris Matthews, host of the TV political show “Hardball” with the order’s John Fitzgerald Kennedy Medal.
This year will be the first in over a hundred that the Hibernians have gathered for their convention in the Nutmeg State. The last time they did so was in Hartford in 1890.