The 80th biennial national convention of the 163-year-old Ancient Order of Hibernians in America closed recently after five days of meetings, deliberations, business, social and religious events.
More than 1,500 Irish-Americans took part in the gathering. Their main business was electing officers, setting an agenda for the next two years, and deciding which city will host the next AOH convention, in 2000.
Eighteen Hibernians ran for the 11 open AOH National offices. The incumbent national vice president, Thomas Gilligan of Fort Lauderdale, was elected national president without contest.
An unusually large number of candidates – five – competed for the office of vice president. The winner was Edward (Ned) McGinley of Scranton, Pa.
Running out of the money were Kevin Talty of Columbus, Ohio; Patrick Troy of Alexandria, Va; Philip Gallagher of Danbury, Conn., and John McAnaw of Fairfax, Va.
The veteran (14 years) national secretary, Thomas McNabb, of Auburn, New York, turned back a challenge by outgoing national director James Gallagher of East Lyme, Conn.
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Two Hibernians sought the vacated office of national treasurer, Alfred O’Hagan of Brooklyn and John Meehan of Brighton, Mass., with Meehan winning.
Two cities bid for the AOH national convention, Baltimore and New Orleans. The winner was decided by a combined vote of the men’s and ladies’ AOH, who voted separately. The vote of the LAOH was tallied early and gave Baltimore a huge plurality, eliminating New Orleans as a convention site even before the men’s AOH site-vote came in.
Baltimore last hosted the AOH convention in 1935.
The incumbent presidents of the men’s and ladies’ AOH, neither standing for reelection, handled the convention deliberations for their respective groups; Edward J. Wallace of upstate New York for the men and Mary Paglione of New Jersey for the women. Past AOH national president Joseph Roche of Maryland was convention chairman. Chairing for the Ladies AOH was past LAOH national president Terry Kelleher of California. Representing the local AOH as convention co-chairs were Kevin Donohue, past Allegheny County AOH President, and Jean O’Malley, current Allegheny County LAOH president.
All incumbent women’s officers moved up one chair, without contest – Peggy Cooney of Pittsburgh to LAOH national president, Mary Dolan of Massachusetts to vice president, Eleanore Grimley of Virginia to national secretary, Mary Callinan of California to national treasurer, Mary Leathem of New York to Irish historian, and Eileen McNeil of Ohio to chairlady of Missions and Charities. Dorothy Weldon of Pennsylvania won, without contest, the open position of chairlady of Catholic Action.
The end-of-the-century convention was an extra-busy AOH conclave. In keeping with tradition, the convention officially opened with a memorial Mass for deceased members of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oakland, a suburb of Pittsburgh. The principal celebrant and guest homilist was Archbishop Sean Brady, primate of Ireland, who was on a special visit to Pittsburgh. He was assisted in celebrating the Mass by 20 concelebrants, many of them chaplains of units of the AOH in America.
Ireland’s ambassador to the U.S., Sean OhUiginn, delivered the keynote speech before a packed crowd at the convention closing banquet.
At a convention breakfast gathering, the AOH presented its John F. Kennedy Medal to Congressman Rep. Peter King of Long Island.