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Report Of 11th Annual Michael Flannery Awards Testimonial Dinner

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | press release author Monday February 06, 2006 22:07author by NIFC - National Irish Freedom Committeeauthor email nifcmem at optonline dot netauthor address NIFC PO BOX 771084, WOODSIDE, NY 11377 Report this post to the editors

Cumann Na Saoirse Naisiunta (National Irish Freedom Committee) held its’ 11th annual Michael Flannery Awards Testimonial Dinner at The Astorian Manor in Astoria, Queens, New York on Friday January 27th 2006. This annual event recognizes and honors Irish Americans and others for their contributions to the promotion of Irish history, literature, human rights and Irish freedom.



Cumann Na Saoirse Naisiunta (National Irish Freedom Committee) held its’ 11th annual Michael Flannery Awards Testimonial Dinner at The Astorian Manor in Astoria, Queens, New York on Friday January 27th 2006. This annual event recognizes and honors Irish Americans and others for their contributions to the promotion of Irish history, literature, human rights and Irish freedom.

The hall was full when Brian Mor O Baoighill, master of ceremonies, welcomed the guests who came from the North Eastern states including contingents from Philadelphia and Harrisburg Pa.

In his opening remarks Brian Mor thanked the three honorees for accepting the awards, despite late efforts of a self appointed Provo ombudsman to pressure the honorees to turn their backs on the event. Brian also noted that even if Noraid were still in business this particular testimonial would still be the only Irish republican one in the US.

Máire Ní Holt, Bean Ui Mhórdha, the recipient of the 2006 Pearl Flannery Humanities Award was introduced in Gaeilge (Irish) by Séamus Ó Dubhda, veteran Irish republican activist and a native speaker from Co Kerry. There was no translation forthcoming or needed from Seamus, because Máire has spent a lifetime involved in all things Irish, including teaching Gaeilge. After Máire finished delivering her acceptance speech, the younger generation present understood why Séamus offered no translation and furthermore they were ‘ like really totally impressed by the cool lady’. So was everyone else in attendance.

Máire, who comes from a long line of serious Irish activists to British occupation of Ireland going back to 1798, explained in easy to understand language the nature of Irish resistance to British rule down through the centuries. In a role reversal, Máire used many of the same words and phrases to refute all forms of British influence in Ireland that the British and their Irish cohorts have used down through the centuries to denigrate Irish patriots. She said that she once told Cardinal O Connor that the Mordha family was proud to come from a long line of unrepentant excommunicated convicts. Speaking of the need to promote Gaeilge, Máire said that one word of Irish passed on to a child is one part of an Irish soul that England can never conquer

Maggie Trainor introduced Karen Ingenthron Lewis the recipient of the 2006 Sr. Sarah Clarke Human Rights Award. Maggie was chosen to introduce Karen because Maggie’s own chosen profession closely resembles that of both Sr Sarah and Karen Lewis. Maggie spoke movingly about Karen’s life of activism in caring for the disenfranchised and the homeless in New York and the prisoners incarcerated in overcrowded prisons. She also mentioned Karen’s participation in anti-war rallies going all the way back to the Ban-the-Bomb campaign. Maggie said that Karen chose this life when another life on Broadway in Neil Simon’s California Suite called and added that Karen Lewis was the perfect choice for The Sr Sarah Human Rights Award
Upon accepting the award Karen told the audience that prior to presenting the 2005 Sr Sarah Human Rights Award to Fr Lawrence Lucas, she read Sr Sarah’ book No Faith in The System and from that moment on she was in awe of Sr Sarah. Karen said that Sr Sarah’s performed heroically on behalf of Irish political prisoners in British prisons and their visiting families in a frighteningly hostile environment.

The audience was fascinated by Karen’s earnestness in professing her admiration for Sr Sarah Clarke’s extraordinary life in the service of the marginalized Irish political community in England. Karen who hosts a weekly radio show on WBAI every Saturday at 1.30 pm does not shirk away from unpopular issues. She is a beacon of hope for many a lost soul in the U.S. prison population. For that alone Karen is eminently qualified to be the recipient of the Sr. Sarah Clarke Human Rights

Radio Free Eireann (RFE) host John Mc Donagh introduced Larry Kirwan (Lorcánaig O Ciardubháin) the recipient of the 2006 Michael Flannery Spirit of Freedom Award. John spoke of Larry early years in New York when he was befriended and shown the ropes by Malachy McCourt. John said that even back then Larry was showing signs that he had an important role to play in life. That role was to speak out about injustice whenever or wherever he encountered it. He opposed the Vietnam war and was not afraid to made his opposition known. In the mid seventies he helped make an LP record on the Eire Nua label. Since that time he has become a household name despite the political character of his many popular songs. John noted that the name Black 47 that Larry chose for his band. Is taken from the year 1847, the blackest year in Irish history when England allowed half of the Irish population to die of starvation.

Upon accepting the award, Larry spoke of his awe when, in 1981, he visited 3rd. Avenue in New York and witnessed the determination, dignity and commitment of those souls marching on the Long Green Line. He said that they were the anonymous who were there to protest the awful tragedy unfolding in Long Kesh prison camp where ten young Irishmen were on hunger strike, some already dead and others in the process of dying. He said that he wanted to accept The Michael Flannery Spirit of Freedom Award on behalf of the many people who marched on The Long Green Line. Larry said that he would also accept the award in memory of his grandfather, Thomas Hughes who played a big part in raising him. He said that Thomas was a cipher of Irish history. He told Larry about his own father who survived the Great hunger of 1845-1847 and how his father told him to tell the world about the people who died during that period with grass stains on their mouths. He told him of being inducted into the IRB by no less a person than Sean Mc Diarmada. He also told about meeting a man with a Glasgow accent named James Connolly in Wexford. Larry said that his grandfather also made him promise that he, Larry, would never forget.

Larry concluded his speech by dedicating the award to the young Irish Americans who were in Baghdad or in any other place in Iraq. He said that he wanted to dedicate it to their coming home safely.\Brian Mor O Baoighill, in addition to acting as master of ceremonies, designed the awards presented to the recipients. These superlative annual awards that have been designed by Brian Mor have become very special to their different over the years.

Robert W. White Dean of the Indiana School of Liberal arts and Professor of Sociology at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, recently completed a book titled, Ruairi Ó Brádaigh The life and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary.

Prof. White addressed the audience at the 11th annual Michael Flannery Testimonial Dinner. He explained how he spent years researching the material for the book and also ‘spent many, many hours’ interviewing Mr. Ó'Bradaigh. While the author did not divulge too many specifics, he gave the impression that this work is not a piece of fluff that would that would portray Ruairi as a romantic rebel.

He went on to say that Ruairí was a complex man whose life could be divided into four phases, intertwined with his commitment to principled Republican ideals. He said that Ruairi was born of activist Republican parents. He inherited those traits and actively promoted them throughout his entire educational period. He went to work as a teacher, married his wife Patsy and they had six children and now have thirteen grandchildren. Prof. White said that he was involved in the ‘56 Border campaign, was jailed as a political prisoner and was elected to the 26county parliament (on an abstentionist ticket). He rose to leadership roles in the IRA and Sinn Fein and he spent additional time in prison and ‘on the run’

Prof. White said that when the split came in 1969, Ruairi led the walkout as he did in 1986 because he believed that constitutional politics could not lead to Irish unity. He said that Ruairi holds firm to that belief today.

Prof White paid particular attention to the development of the Eire Nua program co-authored by Daithi Ó Conaill and Ruairi Ó Bradaigh. He said that it was an important development because it was based on a federal system that took into account the concerns of the northern Unionists and the concerns of those who were becoming marginalized such as the small farmers and Gaelic speakers. He told how the Eire Nua program was used by Adams and Co. to undermine Ó'Bradaigh and Ó'Conaill
It appears that matters like the Eire Nua program, the Feakle Talks, the visa denial by the US, the splits and the issues that caused tensions in the Irish Republican Movement (IRM) are all well covered in this book.

Cumann na Saoirse Naisiunta wishes to thank the band and the piper for providing excellent entertainment and extends its appreciation to the professional staff of the Astorian Manor for the great food and outstanding service

Video and photos from the dinner are now up on the NIFC website:


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author by Macliampublication date Mon Feb 06, 2006 22:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Great night was had by all. The hall was full capacity. The guests included the family of the late William Kunstler, the (in)famous lawyer who represented such people as Malcolm X, the American Indian Movement, H. Rap Brown and Stokley Carmicheal amongst others, representatives and members of many different Irish cultural and activist groups were present including but not limited to The Gaelic League, The International Socialist Organization, Clan na Gael, WBAI- Truth and Justice Radio, and , of course, The National Irish Freedom Committee who organized the highly successful evening.

I had the pleasure of speaking with many of my fellow guests, some of whom have been involved in Republicanism for over 50 years or more, back to the days of the James Connolly Club. It is a night when the "old guard", those stalwards of our movement can meet up again and remember days and comrades gone by, and meet and inspire younger men and women. The New York area was not there alone as there was very strong delegations from both Pennsylvania and New Jersey and many guests coming from farther away.

The speeches by the honorees were beyond great, with Mary Holt Moores being my personal favorite. She was so good, i felt bad for anyone who would have to follow her but both Karen and Larry pulled off superb speeches themselves. Mary focused on the importance of the Irish language and her pride with being awarded the Pearl Flannery Award as she was close friend with the Flannery's. I really could not do her speech justice describing it and you will have to see it on the video that will be on the NIFC site soon. Karen spoke on Sister Sarah, the patron Saint of Republican political prisoners and what inspired her to work with prisoners and social justice. Then Larry Kirwan of Black 47 was presented the Micheal Flannery Spirit Award. He movingly accepted the award on behalf of his grandfather who raised him. A man who was initiated into the IRB by Sean MacDermott.

Both Karen and Larry spoke on how it was important for the Irish activist community to work against the illegal Iraqi war to extended applause. All honorees recieved standing ovations and they deserved it not just for the work they have done down through the years but for the exceptional speeches given. After a great meal , we were then treated to a talk given by the key-note speaker, Dr. Robert White. Dr. White is the dean of The Indiana State Univerity School of Liberal Arts and professor of sociology. He is also the author of the highly anticipated biography on Ruairi O'Bradaigh. He delivered a talk on the history of the man, his involvment in the RM and what the book will go into and why he felt it was important to write it. The band was very good playing ballads, reels etc. Just a great night altogeather. Special thanks to all those who placed ads in the journal. It was great to see so many pages from across the country, again not just New York, New jersey and Pennsylvania, but also California, Arizona, Ohio, Utah, Montana, Massachusetts and Illinois who showed support not just for the honorees but for authentic Irish Republicanism in America.

author by Sharon - Individualpublication date Mon Feb 06, 2006 23:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thank you for the report - it is indeed welcome news to have it confirmed that Irish republicans have such solid support in America .

Sharon .

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author by Mr Angrypublication date Wed Feb 08, 2006 16:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That "Lord of the Dance" was rubbish!!

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