Call for information/documents for Irish Revolution Centenary Commemoratives!

The Centenary of the Irish Rebellion for Independence that began with the Easter Rising 1916 is this year, and WE NEED YOUR HELP for commemorative activities and media, including a retrospective film about those from the Bay Area who supported the Revolution!

Between 1910 and 1920, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) chapters in California were active helping to raise funds for the relief of the poor in Ireland, and to provide care for the victims of the rebellion and English reprisals. When it was cofounded by John Byrne and Joseph Scott of Los Angeles on March 4-5, 1916, at the '3rd Irish Race Convention' in New York City, many of the members of the AOH joined the Friends of Irish Freedom (FOIF), and others. Having been destroyed by the 1906 Earthquake, the chapters in San Francisco were reestablished after the Easter Rising of April 24 - 29, 1916. We've identified a number of members of the AOH/FOIF from Santa Clara County between 1910 and 1920 (see below) but know very little about them. We know very little from San Fransisco or Alameda members of the period.

Do you descend from any of these people and do you have any stories, documents and pictures of them? If so please contact us at

This was an exciting period for Irish immigrants and children of Irish immigrants, as many members of both the AOH and FOIF were. The Black Brothers Concert commemorating the Centenary of the 1916 Irish Rebellion called 'the Easter Rising' occurs at Trinity (Episcopal) Cathedral in San Jose, on March 4, 2016, on the centenary of the founding of the Friends of Irish Freedom, the event that preceded the 'Rising' by just about 6 weeks, and then most helped the victims of the initial reprisals.

Beginning in 1912, Dublin printer and patriot, Arthur Griffith, began publishing the newspaper that gave the political party of rebellion its name, Sinn Fein. When the Crown reneged upon the agreement to give Ireland home rule in 1914, the chapters of the AOH were sending funds to Ireland to aid independence efforts.

By 1917, 2,500 AOH/FOIF members from California alone, attended its statewide convention in Los Angeles, passing a petition to President Wilson to not intervene in World War I until the UK honored its commitments to free Ireland.

Some AOH/FOIF members are bound to have descendants still alive here or nearby. We are looking for the stories of them, their ancestors and descendants and any documents, pictures, etc. to put together in a short film and displays at the March 4, 2016 event at Trinity (Episcopal) Cathedral.

Some known members were: John William Sullivan b. May, 1865 in CA, lawyer lived on Whitton Street in San Jose, Irish parents; Joseph W. O'Sullivan b. 1875 in CA, grocer, lived on East Julian Street, Irish parents; Thomas P. Ryan, b. 1880 or so, wife Margaret Sophie, daughter Elizabeth Marie, all three were members of the AOH, his wife and daughters were active in the ladies auxillary, he was a cannery foreman, lived on Grant Street in San Jose. A very prominent person was Michael Edward Griffith, b. May 13, 1877 in Weaverville, Trinity County, CA, who lived in San Jose until some time in the 1920's and went to Tulare with his son Edward John Griffith, afterward. Edward John Griffith eventually settled in Fresno. Michael Edward Griffith became statewide AOH treasurer then secretary and served in these very important offices from 1910-1914. His father was Michael Griffith, b. 1830 who died in 1901 in San Jose, and is buried in Mission Santa Clara Cemetery. His uncle was Edward Griffith who was born in 1839 and lived on Branciforte Drive in Santa Cruz and was also active in the AOH in the early 1900's. These older Griffiths and one other possible brother, Timothy Griffith (most of his family is also buried in Mission Santa Clara Cemetery), were all born in Ireland, and if Timothy is a brother, they were all born in County Cork and probably St. Mary Shandon parish. Bernard S. Higgins was another very early member of the AOH, born in Ireland before 1859, and died between 1900-1910. He lived on North Second Street. His son, Bernard Jr. was also among members, probably before 1920, and maybe Bernard Jr.'s son, Timothy. Other AOH members who may have lived in San Jose were James J. Monahan and Thomas Monahan, William J. Moore, A.T. McGinty, William Foley, James P. McNally, and F.W. Hogan. There are also other unknown members of the AOH and FOIF in San Jose during these important years. Do you descend from the many members who lived in San Jose in the early 1900's, and have not been remembered in public documents and articles that we know about?

And here are the last and most tantalizing questions: Were the Griffith brothers of Santa Cruz and San Jose cousins of the famous, tragic Irish leader Arthur Griffith? Was James Phelan who was an AOH member in San Francisco and later Santa Clara County, a prominent politician in San Francisco and who built Villa Montalvo, where he retired in Saratoga, related to the mother of Arthur Griffith whose mother was a Mary Phelan?