Annual Awards Testimonial Dinner
Cumann na Saoirse
Naisiunta (The National
Irish Freedom Committee) will hold Annual Testimonials
to recognize and honor Irish-Americans and others for their
contributions to the promotion of Irish history / literature, human
rights and Irish freedom.
Annual testimonials are an inherent and enduring part of the Fenian
tradition here in the U.S. since 1972. As the inheritor of that
tradition the NIFC will honor worthy individuals for their lifelong
contributions to Irish history / literature, human rights, and Irish
freedom. Each year three individuals will be selected to receive the
The Sr. Sarah Clarke Human Rights Award
Sr. Sarah Clarke was
born in Shannonbridge, Co. Galway. Sr. Sarah was a member of the La
Salle Order. She taught at the Bower College in Athlone and elsewhere in
Ireland before moving to England in the early sixties.
Not long after arriving in England she became aware of the
discrimination directed at the Irish and other less fortunate groups in
British society. She worked hard and fearlessly to counter the British
backlash against Irish agitation arising from the 1972 Derry massacre.
She later joined the Relatives for Justice Committee who aim it was to
seek justice for all Irish people in British prisons, especially where
political motives came in to play. In the mid-seventies her superiors
allowed her to give up teaching to devout all of her time to the
prisoners and their families who came to England to visit with them.
Sr. Sarah at one level was a typical Irish nun who gives unselfishly to
the service of others. In Sr. Sarah case it meant service to Irish
prisoners and their families in England for nearly a quarter of a
century. Throughout her life Sr. Sarah was indeed a true angel of mercy.
The Michael & Margaret Flannery Spirit of Freedom Award
was born in Co. Tipperary in 1902. His family was staunchly Republican
with a long history of opposition to the British occupation of Ireland.
Mike’s life was marked by acts of bravery, patriotism and compassion. He
believed deeply in a united Ireland and had a great love for the country
of his birth.
At the age of fourteen Mike joined the North Tipperary Brigade of the
Irish Republican Army. Before his fifteenth birthday he took an oath of
allegiance to the Irish Republic and fought in the Irish War of
Independence and the subsequent Civil War. Mike was captured by Free
State forces and spent two years in Mountjoy Jail. He was subsequently
freed in 1924.
In 1927, Mike immigrated to America. Down through the decades, Mike
assisted Republican activists who sought refuge in America including
Ernie O’Malley in the late twenties, Andy Cooney in the early fifties
and others in the seventies and eighties.
Mike was a member of several organizations including the Tipperary Men’s
Association, the Gaelic Athletic Association and Clann na Gael. In 1970,
after the present phase of the struggle started, he founded the Irish
Northern Aid Committee to raise money to support the dependents of Irish
Political Prisoners. After returning from a visit to Ireland in 1987,
Mike along with George Harrison and Joe Stynes founded Cumann na
Saoirse Naisiunta (The National Irish Freedom Committee) to carry
the torch of Irish Republicanism in America.
Margaret (Pearl) Egan was born in,
Co Tipperary. She was educated at the local National school and Loreto
Convent, Balbriggan. She was awarded a Co. Tipperary scholarship to
University College Dublin (UCD). She graduated from UCD with a degree
in chemistry. After UCD she attended the University of Geneva on a
Her student years in Dublin coincided with the great revival of national
feeling resulting from the Easter Rising of 1916. As a member of Cumann
na mBan, Pearl was actively involved in the national movement for Irish
freedom. Two of her brothers were interned in the Curragh prison camp
during the Civil War, as was her husband-to-be Michael Flannery.
Later, on her departure to the U.S., Pearl was
paid tribute to by ‘C’ Company of the IRA for her ’support in the most
dangerous times when all were solely tested’. Pearl worked for many
years as a research chemist for major chemical companies in the U.S.
Pearl’s interests included literature, classical, and traditional music.
The National Irish Freedom
Committee (NIFC) will plan and implement commemorations to pay
tribute to courageous Americans who worked for Irish freedom and
independence as well as commemorate events in Irish history and
the contributions of Irish immigrants to America's independence,
culture and prosperity.
Some commemorative events such as
the 1916 Easter Sunday Commemoration and the Pete and Ellie
Farley Commemoration will be held annually.
Other commemorative events
will be held on an ad-hoc basis. Such events may include
commemorating significant event in Irish history or in American history involving Irish immigrants.
The Easter Sunday Commemoration will be held on Easter Sunday in New
York. The location and program will be posted on the NIFC
website and mailed to members. The program will commence with an
Irish breakfast. After breakfast the Master of Ceremonies will
introduce the speakers who will read the 1916 Proclamation, the
Easter Statement from Ireland, and Cumann na Saoirse Easter
Sunday Address. The program will conclude with a talk by Brian
Mor O' Baoighill. The Pete And Ellie Farley Commemoration -
Ad-Hoc Commemorations will be held as circumstances warrant to
commemorate special events in Irish history or in American
history involving Irish immigrants. The location and program for
these events will be posted on the NIFC website and mailed to
members. These events will generally be held on a centennial,
bicentennial or other significant anniversary. The program will
vary depending on the type of event and the number of people
participating. Breakfast or luncheons with guest speakers may be
appropriate in some cases. Visits to battlefield or gravesites
would be appropriate in other cases.