Irish American Heritage Month

BACKGROUND:  United States Presidents have proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month throughout the United States for twenty-two consecutive years from 1991 through 2012. This is an extraordinary reality in the journey of Irish-Americans! Also, some state Governors have proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month in some years. Proclamations by Governors provide AOH Divisions, County Boards, and State Boards tremendous grassroots opportunities to ask their local/state taxpayer supported institutions, e.g., public libraries, public community colleges, and public universities and colleges, to plan to commemorate Irish-American Heritage Month in the event that your Governor proclaims the upcoming March as Irish-American Heritage Month. Indeed, the National AOH Convention, July 2004, unanimously adopted a resolution which endorsed Project Irish-American Heritage Month and which states in part: “… local AOH Divisions are hereby urged to unite in this worthy mission by appointing Divisional IAHM Committees charged with developing and implementing strategies for the promotion and expansion of Irish-American Heritage Month celebrations in taxpayer supported institutions …”. AOH Division, County, and State Board actions on this Project will significantly help to ensure and increase an appreciation of the Irish-American heritage, history, and culture deep into the twenty-first century.

COMMITTEE’S MISSION AND VISION:  Each AOH Division, County Board, and State Board should consider establishing a Project Irish-American Heritage Month Committee consisting of a few members who will do the ground work for the Division/State Board President, e.g., write letters and make follow-up telephone calls, etc. The Committee’s Mission and Vision should be as follows:

MISSION To ensure that taxpayer supported institutions join in the commemoration of Irish-American Heritage Month as designated by the Proclamations.

VISION – The Committee will constantly seek and use innovative means over the long-term to accomplish the Mission, and the Committee will always be diplomatic, patient, and most importantly persistent with the Mission execution.

RECOMMENDED ACTIONS: 

1. State Boards:  Should ask your Governor to sign a proclamation each year. If your state does not have an AOH State Board, then an individual AOH Division in that state should ask your Governor to sign a proclamation each year. AOH members should also consider asking a member(s) of your state legislature to help with this action. Start these actions a number of months prior to the upcoming March. It is critically important for the AOH in each state to establish and maintain a long-term relationship with your Governors for Irish-American Heritage Month. This will prove vitally important in the event that a United States President does not proclaim March as Irish-American Heritage Month in a given year.

2. Divisions:  Past experience with this Project has shown that the effort and costs needed are very small, the benefits are significant, and it is a fun and rewarding Project. Divisions should select actions which will yield the highest visibility during each March. Also, Divisions can increase the number of actions each year as success is achieved over the long-term. It is suggested that Divisions start with the following four actions:

a. Communicate with your AOH State Board President to see if it is appropriate, i.e., has the AOH State Board requested your Governor to sign a proclamation and what is the status of the request, to contact your county/city public library system for the upcoming March. If so, then you may want to use and modify as you feel appropriate the following example letter (PUBLIC LIBRARY) which asks that plans are made in the event that your Governor proclaims March as Irish-American Heritage Month. The example letter suggests that tables are set up in branches during March with books, DVDs, VCR tapes, and CDs on the Irish-American heritage, history and culture accompanied by a sign which simply states “MARCH IS IRISH-AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH”.

b. Communicate with your AOH State Board President to see if it is appropriate, i.e., has the AOH State Board requested your Governor to sign a proclamation and what is the status of the request, to contact your local taxpayer supported public community college, university, and college for the upcoming March. If so, then you may want to use and modify the following example letter (PUBLIC COLLEGE) which also asks their libraries to conduct the same actions.

c. Contact your St. Patrick Parade Committee to ask if they will allow an IAHM banner in the parade. If so, consider purchasing a marching banner proclaiming these five powerful words: CELEBRATE IRISH-AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH. If the United States President or your Governor signs a proclamation to designate March as Irish-American Heritage Month for a given year, then proudly unfurl and march with the banner in the St. Patrick parades for that year.

d.  Consider contacting your local news media as appropriate to cover events.

As your Division achieves these successes, then the Division should take additional actions, e.g., contact your public television station, public radio station, public schools, etc., in following years.

BOTTOM LINE:  It is critically important that the AOH lead by action!

Public Library File
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Public College File
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For more information please contact: John Schell