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It has been speculated that Dutchess County had three AOH Division's at one point due to the large Irish population.  On April 7th, 2010 this speculation was proven fact when an email was received indicating the find of two ribbons (Green and Black) for Dutchess County AOH Poughkeepsie Division 3 which were shared at a meeting in Washington DC.  If anyone has  additional information regarding these two earlier Division's please contact our Division Historian Matt Fitzgerald.   

President McVicker and Historian Fitzgerald, 

It was with great interest that my Division in Washington, DC welcomed our guest speaker last night, Mr. Neal Gillen. Mr. Gillen is Irish Catholic and is a New York City native (Brooklyn). He is the current General Counsel of the American Cotton Shippers Association and has written six novels including the soon to be released “Alter Boy”.  What was most interesting about his visit was an artifact which he brought to the meeting (see attached pictures) which has been passed down from his mother’s side of his family who was from Poughkeepsie and a member of the AOH in the 1800s.   

These were ceremonial ribbons from the 1800s to be warn in green for parades and celebrations and in black (the flip side) for funerals.  He was kind enough to let me take some pictures of ribbon after the meeting.  Being raised in Poughkeepsie I was fascinated by the item and I thought it would be of interest to your members. 

Slainte – Keith


Keith Carney



Member - Commodore John Barry Division 1

Ancient Order of Hibernians – Washington, DC    

More info regarding the above:



My wife, Mary-Margaret, initially gave me confusing information - my confusion - not her's. It was not her maternal grandmother's badge, a wonderful person who paid her dues to the AOH Auxiliary into her 100th year, but that of her paternal grandfather's, Edward Donnelly.

Edward Donnelly was born in 1862 in Templemore, Tipperary and baptized in Templemore Parish in the Diocese of Cashel. He immigrated to the U.S., settling in Poughkeepsie, where he became the groundskeeper, living in the gatehouse, at St. Andrew's Seminary of the Society of Jesus - the Jesuits. That property is now the Culinary Institute of America.

Edward Donnelly joined the New York National Guard in 1888 and became a US citizen in 1892. It is believed that he joined the AOH with other young Irish immigrants soon after his arrival in Poughkeepsie in the early 1880's. Reportedly, Edward Donnelly remained active in the AOH until his death in 1934.

That is all the information we have following a thorough of the documents in our possession.

Neal Gillen


1896 NY Times Article Proving 3 Divisions in Poughkeepsie

 The original name for the Division was John Nevins. It was renamed in January 2003 after The Division’s historian Noel Morris did extensive research and with input from the membership chose the name Msgr. Sheahan whom was the pastor of Saint Peters, the mother Church of Dutchess County, from 1906 until his death in 1934. Msgr., Sheahan was the driving factor on the building of the Poughkeepsie Bridge, in 1922, over the Hudson River.  H is noted for pushing for the bridge to provide Catholics, on both sides of the river, access to Saint Peters.  He is also credited of being a quiet benefactor to the many needed causes in the area.  We feel that his name on our banner reflects our motto of Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity for which we all strive.  If you ever have the opportunity to cross the bridge notice the design of the shamrocks incorporated into the main support towers.  We believe the shamrocks were designed into the bridge in honor of him. 

Copied from the Chronograph of St. Peter’s Parish Poughkeepsie, NY 1837-1937 

Rev. Monsignor Joseph F. Sheahan

                                                           (click picture for memorial card)


                                                                     Ordained – 1886

Now we come to the administration of the pastor who was indeed “The Good Shepherd” to his flock, the Rev. Joseph F. Sheahan.  He was appointed to the pastorate of St. Peter’s March 24, 1906, and elevated to the rank of Monsignor in February, 1921.  The Ceremonies wherein he was invested in the Robes of his Office took place last Sunday in May of the same year, immediately following the annual reception of the new members into the Children of Mary Sodality of which he was the Moderator.

Monsignor Sheahan brought to his pastorate vigor and a forcefulness that was productive of manifold results, although his activities were carried on in a quiet manner without ostentation or show of any kind. His great humility was one of his outstanding characteristics and his sanctity the magnet which drew all hearts to him regardless of race, station or creed.  Famed for his charity, he was truly a Christ like priest who lived up to the great dignity of his calling. 

He was a man of deep learning and keen intellect, and, even with the many duties demanding his attention, he never-the-less found time to edit a book on Scriptural texts which is used as a reference in many seminaries. 

Possessed of foresight, he was able to conceive projects for the progress and welfare of the community far in advance of his fellowmen.  A notable instance of this was his initiative in starting the agitation for the construction of the vehicle bridge which spans the Hudson in clear view of the rectory.  It may truthfully be said that the public owes the erection of this bridge to Monsignor Sheahan.  The opening of two city streets near the church known as Verrazano Boulevard and Dongan Place are also the results of his interest in the public welfare.  He was instrumental in having the monument of Governor Dongan, the first Catholic governor of New York State, erected on Dongan Place.  It would be impossible to enumerate here all the work that Monsignor Sheahan did during his long and active career as Pastor of St. Peters. Therefore, only the outstanding accomplishments will be touched upon. 

Among the first tasks he took up after coming to Poughkeepsie was the improving and beautifying the cemetery.  This covered the caring for graves of parishioners whose relatives had all passed on, the erection of the vault, chapel, shrines, Celtic Cross, and enclosing the property with the handsome iron fence which added so much to the appearance of the grounds.  His interest in this work never ceased.  The last work he had done in the cemetery was the beautiful mosaic decoration of the outside of the chapel wall.  This was completed only a short time before his death.  The erection of the cloister entrance on the east side of the church was also one of his early works.  

In September, 1908, Monsignor Shehan brought the Marist Brothers to teach in the Boys’ school.  They taught the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Grades.  This school was enlarged in 1926 to provide room for High School classes for the boys.  It was maintained until June, 1936, when having become too heavy a burden on the parish, it was discontinued and the two schools were consolidated and placed in charge of the Sisters, with Sister Josepha Dolores, the Mother Superior, as principal. 

The Diamond Jubilee of the parish occurred in 1912 and was elaborately celebrated by ceremonies extending over a period of three days, November 24th to 27th.  In addition to the Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving, there was Confirmation, followed by a Solemn Mass for all deceased priests and people of St. Peter’s who died in the previous seventy-five years.  The parish was honored on this occasion by the presence of Cardinal Hayes, who presided in the sanctuary at the celebration of the mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday, November 24th

The lay celebration consisted of a reunion of former parishioners, and an entertainment at Columbus Institute, at which time a play written for the occasion by the assistant pastor, the Rev. W. J. B. Daly, entitled “A Jubilee Rehearsal” was presented under his direction.  The cast of this play was taken from the membership of the Aquinas Club” which Father Daly had organized about three or four years previous to this time.  “The Aquinas Club” was a study club which met every Monday night.  Members of the club and a few non-members prepared and read essays on educational and current topics and the meetings became so popular that their attendance taxed the seating capacity of the basement where they were held. 

When the influenza epidemic broke out in 1918, the Monsignor fully equipped one floor of the Boys’ school as a temporary hospital and offered it to the Red Cross for use in this emergency.  It was never necessary, however, to put it to use. 

The building of the addition to the school to provide high school accommodations added considerable debt to the parish.  The debt weighed heavily on the Monsignor’s mind and the Rev. Andrew J. Donnelly, who was the assistant pastor at the time, started a “Debt paying Campaign” to pay it off.  He formulated and directed a committee which succeeded in paying off the entire debt, amounting to $25,682.30, the collections extending from April, 1927, to May, 1929.  Although the collections covered a period of two years, there were eighteen payments made in all, the months of May, 1927, May and June, 1928, and April, q1929, having been omitted due to the Charity Drive. 

In the year 1930, under the direction of Monsignor Sheahan, the work of removing the dead from the old cemetery on East Mansion Street to the cemetery on the Salt Point Road was started.  This work was completed in 1931, thereby uniting the dead of St. Peter’s in one cemetery.  The property on East Manison Street was loaned to the city for use as a playground by the present pastor of St. Peter’s, Dean Connelly, upon his succession to the pastorate of St. Peter’s. 

During his pastorate Monsignor Sheahan replaced all the stained glass windows with the beautiful ones which adorn the church now.  Two of these were placed in memory of his two predecessors, Rev. James Nilan and the Rev. William Livingston.  September 14, 1931, the building at 19 North Clover Street was purchased for a parish center. This building was built for non-catholic church work but after a number of years was abandoned and offered for sale to St. Peter’s.  While it was purchased at what was considered a reasonable figure, it was in extremely poor condition and considerable repairs had to be made to it before it could be put to use.  It is now in good condition and is used by all organizations of the parish church work. 

In the summer of 1932 Monsignor Sheahan started the re-modeling and renovating of the church in anticipation of the Centennial celebration of the parish.