MANORVILLE, N.Y. – On Sunday, September 18th, the Suffolk County Boards of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians dedicated a historic Irish Mass Rock on the grounds of the Tom and Kathleen Clarke Memorial in recognition of their commitment to Irish independence.
In 1987 A team of dedicated Ancient Order of Hibernians in America from the men’s ladies Suffolk County Boards embarked on a mission to uncover proof that Irish patriots Thomas and Kathleen Clarke owned a 60-acre farm in Manorville, New York. After many long hours, an arduous and diligent investigation had been completed and the Suffolk County Hibernian Team had found the property deed verifying the Clarke’s ownership of and residency on the farm from 1905 to 1907.
The discovery was a historic for the Irish and Irish American community here on Long Island, NY as Tom and Kathleen Clarke were a courageous unified force in the struggle for Irish Nationhood. The couple had both dedicated their Lives to the cause of freedom for their beloved homeland.
The Suffolk County Boards of the AOH and the LAOH felt compelled to memorialize these two Irish patriots. An Obelisk made of granite from County Wicklow, Ireland was erected at the edge of their Manorville farm to honor this dynamic couple. Since its dedication in 1987, the Ladies and Men Hibernians from Suffolk County host an annual wreath laying ceremony to honor and celebrate the Clarke’s work for Irish freedom.
On Sunday September 18, 2022, AOH Suffolk County Chaplain Fr. Henry Reid, along with Suffolk County members of the AOH and the LAOH dedicated a Mass Rock (Carraigh an t- Aifreann in Gaelic) as a new addition to this historic site.
Mass Rocks are natural stones found in Glens and desolate hillsides throughout Ireland. These stones of beauty would serve as alters to celebrate the then outlawed Roman Catholic Mass in Ireland. In 1695 a series of Penal laws, enacted by The English Monarch, subjugated Irish Catholics from practicing their religion and forced Catholics to celebrate mass in seclusion and secret locations to avoid prosecution from English authorities. The Suffolk County Hibernian Mass Rock is a tribute and a remembrance to the faithful believers and clergy who refused to give to tyranny and kept their religion and culture alive.
Town of Brookhaven, NY Supervisor Mr. Ed Romaine attended the ceremony and presented AOH Suffolk County President, Bill Gorham and LAOH Suffolk County President, Sue O’Neill with a special proclamation naming September 18, 2022, as “AOH & LAOH Day in the Town of Brookhaven”. Suffolk County, NY Legislator, and fellow Hibernian Steve Flotteron also attended the ceremony. After the Mass Rock dedication, Fr. Henry Reid celebrated Mass with approximate one hundred members and special guests in attendance.
The Mass Rock committee consisted of: Joe Kelly, AOH Suffolk County Historian; Patrick Spero, AOH Suffolk County Respect Life Chairman; AOH Suffolk County President, Bill Gorham; AOH Suffolk County Chaplain, Fr. Henry Reid; LAOH Suffolk County President, Sue O’Neill; LAOH Kathleen Ring; AOH New York State Past President, Vic Vogel & AOH Suffolk County Public Relations Director, Jim Killen.
The Clarke’s Manorville, NY home site is located on the west side of Suffolk County Road 111, just south of the Long Island Expressway (exit 70) in the Town of Brookhaven.