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the monthly publication of the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin
Robert J. Higgins Dies
A Tribute to Tom R. Green
Dane County Shamrock Club
Fox Cities Shamrock Club
Shamrock Club of Great LaCrosse Area
New Dublin News
Milwaukee President's Message
Welcome New Members
Important Notice: Emerald Reflections Date Change
15th Annual Special Mass to Honor St. Patrick
St. Patrick Mass Flower Donations
Irish Dance in Dodgeville's Folklore Village
Shamrock Club at the Milwaukee Museum
Collegiate Open Mic Night
Lunasa in Concert at ICHC
St. Patrick's Night 2000 Dinner and Show
Club Needs Your Photos and Memorabilia!
Set Dancing Lessons
Ulster Project Family Fun Night
Trinity Irish Dance Company
Irish Film Fleadh
Shamrock Club 40th Birthday Party Reservation Form
Milwaukee Calendar of Events
Wisconsin Calendar of Events
The Fight over Father Duffy
by Brian Witt
I wandered through Times Square on a recent trip to New York City. Walking here and there, going down Broadway, I passed the TCKTS discount ticket booth at 47th and Broadway. If you are familiar with this area of New York, you know that the booth is situated on Duffy Square. Therein lies the heart of this story.
The mayor of New York, Rudolf Giuliani, is interested in expanding the ticket booth, and removing the statue of Fr. Francis Duffy from the square. The business of discount tickets for Broadway and off-Broadway shows is slightly on the booming side. The teeming lines snake their way down the street, and occasionally end up off the curb, thereby endangering people with the whizzing yellow cabs speeding down Broadway. Moving the Duffy statue would allow the booth to be moved to the more accommodating middle of the island.
But the idea of moving Duffy's statue has set off a firestorm in the New York and regional Irish communities. Francis Duffy was the chaplain of the Fighting 69th, the mostly Irish regiment that has fought in America's wars since its formation in 1851. The Fighting 69th of Fr. Duffy was one of the most decorated American regiments of World War I. One of their commanders was William "Wild Bill" Donovan, who returned to the United States as the second most decorated soldier of the conflict, the first being the Commander in Chief, John Pershing. Another member of that regiment was the Irish American poet, Joyce Kilmer, author of Trees and Prayer of a Soldier in France. However, none captured the heart and soul of the troops more than Fighting Father Duffy.
Francis Duffy was originally from Ontario. He was teaching in seminaries in the State of New York when the Spanish American War broke out. He applied for the chaplain corps, and became a part of the Army as the war ended. Duffy ministered to the sick in hospitals, most of whom had acquired yellow fever while in Cuba. Duffy got yellow fever himself, almost dying from the experience. He would later joke that although he saw no combat, he did get as sick as the men in the field.
After being dismissed from the Army, Duffy continued to teach in New York seminaries. In 1912, he was assigned to open a parish in the Bronx, where in a matter of years, he went from establishing a storefront presence to an entire block with church, rectory, school and boys club. In 1914, he was recommended by Cardinal Farley to be Chaplain to the 69th New York. He served during the unit's Mexican border patrol, and then was called to serve the unit overseas after the outbreak of the War to End All Wars.
The Fighting 69th was formed in 1851 as an Irish regiment attached to the militia of New York State. Ostensibly a part of the American Army, it also had a second purpose, never fulfilled, of providing trained soldiers to help to free Ireland from England. The unit saw its first call to duty in 1858, when it was to guard the quarantine hospital on Staten Island from the attempts of "Know Nothings" to burn it down. The group, under the command of Michael Corcoran, was singled out for its duties by state authorities. It was an event in 1860 that made the unit the darlings of Irish America. Edward, Prince of Wales was visiting New York, and a parade of the different militia groups was planned. Corcoran refused to allow his troops to march in front of the future King of England, which, considering the fact that many had no love for the man, might have been a good idea.
The regiment received its name from Robert E. Lee, who when asked who was putting up such a struggle at the Battle of Bull Run, was reported to have responded, "New York 69th, fighting as always."
When Francis Duffy joined the 69th, it was still mostly Irish. Those who weren't Irish, Duffy baptized as, "Irish by association, ... by adoption, or ... by conviction".
Duffy made his name during the Battle of Champagne in France, July 15, 1917. After the start of the battle, Duffy was seen crossing over the tops of trenches to get to the Post Command, reasoning that it was the fastest way to get there. When reports of heavy causalities were received, Duffy volunteered to act as a stretcher carrier. He also administered Last Rites, went from trench to trench to talk to the men, and ran messages for the commanders. He was given the regiment-al flag by the commander, and told to burn it, rather than allow it to fall into German hands. By the end of the battle, Duffy was awake for almost 48 hours. He was collected by the commander, driven to the commander's tent, and put to bed.
Duffy would become the head chaplain for all of the 42nd Division. He worked at finding Protestant chaplains for the Southern units, and getting leave for his Jewish soldiers to celebrate Passover. He was one of the first men to cross into Germany at the head of the at the war's conclusion.
After the war, Duffy was assigned to the Broadway area to bring together the fortunes of Holy Cross, the church at 42nd and Broadway. The parish served the theater people, the people at the two New York papers which were across the street, and the Irish of "Hells Kitchen", the roughest neighborhood in all of Manhattan, and which was the western border of the parish. Duffy worked at making the parish a going concern. Duffy, as a result of his placement at Holy Cross, became the priest of choice on the speaker's circuit. He was a regular at the Friar's Club, the Algonquin Round Table, and was in demand as an authority of Irish America. He was also a person who was equally at ease in the homes of his parishioners in Hells Kitchen, or at American Legion functions. He called for the independence of Ireland, and to remember the American serviceman. Any donations he received went to the parish or to servicemen's organizations.
Duffy captured the hearts of America in general with the release of the movie "The Fighting 69th". Starring James Cagney, Milwaukeean Pat O'Brien played Father Duffy, who refused to let one soldier, Cagney, lose himself in his cowardice.
Francis Duffy died in 1932. After his death, American servicemen all over the country donated money for the erection of a statue in his honor. The statue faces south, in the direction of Holy Cross parish, where it is said that Francis Duffy keeps an eye on his church. (Others say that he is trying to stare the pigeons off of the head of the statue of George M. Cohan, who is at the south end of the square.) Francis Duffy is in uniform, standing in front of a Celtic Cross. The base of the statue has a plaque, which notes his military career, including his decorations. Those include the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Honor, and Croix de Guerre.
As of this writing, the Mayor seems to have backed off his idea and the rancor that was developing over the moving of a popular man from his place of prominence has died down. Still, Duffy would most likely have been amused that a fight over moving his likeness ever took place. But stay tuned for any developing events in the Fight over Father Duffy.
Robert Higgins Dies
Robert J. Higgins, longtime editor of the Emerald Reflections, died December 26, 1999, at the age of 79. For almost two decades, bob contributed his abilities to producing a very professional publication that put the Shamrock Club in a very good light.
Bob's trips to Ireland produced wonderful photos. He recorded the events of the Shamrock Club in prose and photo for many years. Bob was also a freelance writer and photographer until the time of his death; mostly for Waukesha County publications. His photos appeared in newspaper worldwide.
Many remember Bob's shaggy dog stories in each April edition of the Reflections. Most encompassed Irish history and literature, and many pulled members of the Irish community into the threads of their narratives. This was also the only time Bob allowed fiction to grace page one of Reflections.
Contributions in Bob's memory should be directed to either the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center, 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, or St. Jerome's Building Fund, 211 S. Main St., Oconomowoc.
A Tribute to Tom R. Green
On Dec. 17, 1999 our Dane County Shamrock Club lost one of its best known, respected and beloved members. Thomas R. Green, age 83, was called to his eternal rest after an extended illness. If it had not been for Tom, it is quite probable that our club would never have grown to be the successful organization it is. He was elected president of our club several different times. He also served on our club's Board of Directors for several terms in various capacities. He was chairman and co-chairman of many club activities throughout his 24 year membership.
Tom was also the originator of the "Irish Flag Raising Celebration." It is the only such celebration in the city of Madison and all of Dane County. This annual event, held in our beautiful State Capitol on St. Patrick's Day, has grown to be club's biggest sponsored event each year! This celebration, which bears Tom's name, attracts several hundred people each year and is greatly enjoyed.
The value of Tom's leadership abilities was immense. He was so very proud of his Irish heritage! He proved this pride by giving great devotion, dedication and endless hours of work regarding the structure and planned activities of our club! The tireless effort put forth by Tom for the success of our club has never been equaled. For so many years before his health deteriorated, Tom was the undisputed "hub" of our club's "wheel." And, he always managed to keep the "wheel" rolling in the right direction.
Let each of us who knew and loved Tom, never forget the sacrifices made for our club by him and his beloved wife and our dear friend, Mary Grace. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Mary Grace and all their family. Their great loss is also our great loss. We shall always remember Tom's legacy, especially on St. Patrick's Day!
Organizational meeting to be held on Feb. 27. At this time we are suggesting three people to represent and have a vote. The officers to be chosen by their boards. We will then proceed with other structural items and to the agenda proposed by the chapters.
We would like to meet with all the presidents an hour before the general State meeting.
Please contact Marian Schnell, [2202 S. 30th Street, LaCrosse, WI 54601; (608) 787-5500] and let her know how many will be there and what accommodations you will need.
– Cate Harris
The Annual Christmas Dinner was enjoyed by a large crowd this year. We had fun singing carols and conversing with friends at Jingle's. President Barb Gallenberg presented grants to three very deserving community organizations. They were: Paul Ahe of St. Paul's Luke House, Ralph Middlecamp of St. Vincent de Paul's, and Rev. John Fetterman of Transitional House Inc. Our evening was concluded with the wonderful, candlelit ceremony, led by Katie Sweeney. As always, we closed with Silent Night.
A correction for the February membership meeting! Ginny O'Brien will be performing with the Charlie Mears Trio. Unfortunately, last month I misspelled Mear's name!
Our March events will be the Annual Flag Raising Celebration, followed by a luncheon. Please call Barb Darcy for details on the luncheon.
Our April meeting will feature John Gleeson, Eamon O'Neil, and Geraint Wilkes. There will be music and storytelling. You won't want to miss it!
– Sheila O'Brien
Any questions or info on the above call me at (920) 733-5254. We will also hold membership meetings April 12, May 10 and June 14.
– Elaine Hoes, Secretary
Greater LaCrosse Area
It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Robert ("Bob") Higgins. Our deepest sympathy to his family and friends.
In past years, we had talked to Bob several times about our problems and concerns with submitting articles for Emerald Reflections. He was always most kind and helpful. It was Bob who encouraged us to submit pictures of various Club activities along with our written comments, and they indeed did spice up our articles. His advice was always appreciated. God love you, Bob, because we did.
– Fred Smith, Newsletter Chair
New Dublin News
At our December meeting, Dave (Fluf) and Bonnie Barrington were selected and graciously accepted to be our 2000 Irishman of the Year and Irish Rose. Watch for an in depth article next month.
Our Christmas party was held on December 19 at the Rainbow Supper Club. A good time was had by all.
The Club is in the midst of preparing for the 1st St. Patrick's Day celebration of the new century (the new millennium doesn't start till 01/01/01). It will be tough to top last year's festivities, but, with the help of all our dedicated members and volunteers the 2000 event can't help but be the best yet. To volunteer your services, for any of the events, contact any Club officer or event chairperson.
We would like to welcome our new members, Linda Alexander and Marge Petit.
For more information on what's happening in New Dublin please visit our web site.
Milwaukee President's Column
Bob Higgins will be missed by all of us. His sudden and most unexpected death came as a terrible shock to all who knew and worked with him. Bob was the Irishman of the Year in 1980. He had been the editor of the Emerald Reflections for the past 19 years. He has been a familiar sight in his "Columbo" coat with cameras and bags hanging from his shoulders at many Irish events. May the Lord smile on him and may he rest in peace.
March 11, 2000 is our big day. We start with 8:30 a.m. Mass at St. Patrick's Church. After Mass breakfast will be served at the United Community Center. Tickets are available at the February and March meetings. There will be a shuttle service from the Tosa Civic Center at 76th and North Ave. Bus leaves at 7:45 a.m. See Chuck McLaughlin.
Later that day the Parade starts at 12 noon down North Avenue and the Post Parade Party starts at 1 p.m. It will be a great fun filled day for all of us.
The Post Parade Party will be held at the ICHC and chaired by Joe Hughes. Karen Ryan is very busy being a new mother with a new job but will be helping Joe in any way that she can. There will be great entertainment and food chairs Jean Cardwell and Sue Dundon will have a fine Irish menu. Beverages will be available at Quinlan's Pub. The Irish coffee is the best served anywhere. Many volunteers will be needed.
Due to late deliveries of the Emerald Reflections over the past years, we are changing the date for items to be submitted for printing in the Emerald Reflections to the first of the month starting in March. We hope that the postal service will get them delivered in time for the meetings.
We are still in desperate need of volunteers for the Bradley Center. I keep telling you its the easiest fund raiser we have ever been involved in. There is no need for us to invest or take any monetary losses because of left overs or waste, no need for doing publicity. We just go to the Bradley Center, work, leave and in a month give a check to the treasurer. Last season, we turned in more than $10,000. Think about it and call Katy Voss at 352-6479 and let her know when you would like to work. New members, this is really a great way to meet other members of our very fine Shamrock Club.
Happy Birthday and Anniversary to all in February.
– Cate Harris
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