Merriam Webster defines heritage as achievements and beliefs that are part of the history of a group or nation.

What makes Irish-Americans so proud of their heritage? Why is it important to know where that pride originated? The Irish faced centuries of oppression — the British suppressed every basic civil right and religious freedom. In America, mid-19th century Know Nothing politicians violently discriminated against the Irish. This led to a sense of community wherein the rich heritage of folklore and the stories of battles won and lost, of the honor, pride, and courage our heroes were commonplace. It encouraged the second generation of Irish immigrant to excel, to achieve prominence at the local, state and national levels, and to shape virtually all areas of life in the United States.

Heritage is a reminder of the past. It refers to treasured objects and qualities that have been passed down from past generations. It entails the full range of our past, of monuments and objects that evoke a nostalgic sense of tradition and history.  Reflecting on these reminders instills a sense of pride in how we identify ourselves as Irish-Americans. To paraphrase AOH historian Mike McCormick: When we study our Irish heritage we’ll have something of lasting value to offer our children.  Many inspiring books are included in the Irish Cultural Society of Virginia’s list of suggested reading.  Irish Heritage Reading List

The Irish Cultural Society of Virginia is a 501c(3) charitable organization. We will endeavor to raise monuments of famed Irish or Irish-Americans as indelible reminders of our Irish Heritage. Our first Irish heritage project is an ambitious one. We are supporting the Virginia Ancient Order of Hibernians goal of placing a life-size bronze statue of Colonel John Fitzgerald (1740-1799) on Basilica of St. Mary property in Alexandria, Virginia. Fitzgerald was an 18th century immigrant from Wicklow, Ireland. Here is a thumbnail description of Fitzgerald’s accomplishments and contributions:

  • Revolutionary War hero, wounded at Monmouth
  • George Washington’s aide de camp and lifelong confidant
  • Prominent Alexandria business and civic leader
  • Alexandria City Mayor and City Council member
  • Port of Alexandria customs collector (origin of U.S Customs Service)
  • Founder of the Bank of Alexandria
  • Founder of Alexandria’s first library
  • Financial supporter of the Alexandria Academy for Orphans
  • Prominent Catholic when Catholicism was illegal in the Virginia colony
  • Solicited donations to build first Catholic Church in Virginia, today’s Basilica of St. Mary. George Washington was first donor.

The estimated cost of the statue is $80,000 with one third due at contract. Hopefully the information contained herein will prompt you to become a generous benefactor of this project.

It might be worthwhile to mention the Whitehouse was modeled after the seat of the Oireachtas, the parliament of Ireland. Architect James Hoban based his plan for the Whitehouse on Leinster House. The Whitehouse is an architectural twin of Leinster House.

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