AOH mark 400th anniversary of Hugh O'Neill's death in Co Tyrone
HUNDREDS of people have attended a special Ancient Order of Hibernians event in Co Tyrone to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Gaelic chieftain Hugh O’Neill.
The ‘Hibernian Day’ march along the shores of Lough Neagh on Sunday attracted members and supporters from across Ireland.
Up to 12 Hibernian and republican bands weaved through back lanes of Moortown on their way to Kinturk Cultural Centre where several presentations were made.
Hugh O’Neill died in Rome in 1616 after fleeing his homeland in the 'Flight of the Earls' and is still revered by some in his native county.
Among those who received a specially-struck medallion was Josie Boylan, a sister family of IRA hunger striker Martin Hurson who died during the 1981 H-Block protest.
Catherine Sewell, a prominent pro-life activist, was also recognised on behalf of St Joseph’s Pro-Life Group in Dungannon.
The part played by the Hibernian rifles in the Easter Rising was recalled when members of the Belfast Republican People’s Commemoration Committee dressed in 1916 volunteer uniforms and carrying replica weapons took part in the procession.
Men dressed in Gaelic warrior period costume and clerical robes also stopped at the ‘Vision Field’, where Mary is said to have appeared in 1954, for a blessing.
Tyrone AOH president Gerry McGeough praised those who took part, saying he was “deeply inspired and impressed” by the co-operation “between so many people from many different strands of the nationalist/republican community”.
“Every few generations the Hibernian tradition renews itself to meet the challenges of the times,” he said.
“From the era of the Gaelic chieftains to the Kilkenny Confederates through the Defenders and Ribbonmen to the current AOH, the fiery spirit of true Hibernianism always manifests and reasserts itself.
“True Hibernianism is never dull, stuffy or truculent.”
Mr McGeough said he believed the organisation is currently going through change.
“I believe that the AOH is undergoing another metamorphosis which will result in the emergence of a new Hibernianism, one that is energetic, idealistic, generous, diverse, focused and forward-looking, yet still loyal to our old Defender motto of Pro Fide et Patria,” he said.
“We can almost sense its potential here today.”