Sixteen on Sixteen: Nuala Cummings

Nuala Cummings

Hannah Nuala Hogan Cummings was born in Waterford. Her parents were Patrick Hogan of Cork City and Bridget Keane of County Galway. Nuala’s father was in the Irish Army, and when Nuala was 3, the family moved to the Army barracks in the Curragh of Kildare where Nuala spent the rest of her early years. She qualified as a nurse in London and took a year’s job in New York City at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Near the end of her stay in New York, she met Springfield native Michael Cummings at John Barleycorn Pub. Mike was just finishing up a master’s degree at NYU in Public Administration. Nuala decided to stay on in New York, and Mike and Nuala were married a year later, moved to Albany, and now have five children, and four grandchildren with one on the way. Both Nuala and Michael have been active in Irish cultural and political affairs with the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish Northern Aid, and the Irish Unity Caucus since the 1970s.

4595107123_2e6cb5c1e2Nuala’s mother, Bridget Keane, was only a school girl during the War of Independence. She lived in the small east Galway town of Caltra close to the Roscommon border. She told Nuala stories of the Black and Tans riding through her town as the children were walking to school, frightening the children with their guns pointed at them. Her mother also remembered a man being dragged to the town square and shot by the Black and Tans before the whole town.

In the early decades of the 20th century, Nuala’s father’s family, the Hogans, were staunch republicans. Like many boys too young to join county militias, Nuala’s uncle was a message runner for the IRA. Historians have cited runners as an integral part of any guerilla army, for they are the means of communication in a covert operation. It is the way of passing vital information, either orally or in writing, from leaders to subordinates. The system made it difficult for the British to intercept information, but was nonetheless very dangerous for the young lads doing the running.


Thomas Kent

Hogan family lore also insists on a family connection between the Hogans and the republican Kents of Cork. Brothers Thomas, David, William, and Richard Kent planned on participating in the 1916 rising, but stayed home on Easter Sunday and Monday when they received the countermand. When the RIC started rounding up republicans in Cork in the aftermath of the Dublin revolt, the Kents fought back. Richard and David were wounded, Richard fatally, and Thomas and William were arrested and tried with treason. William was acquitted, but Thomas was found guilty and executed in Cork on May 9, 1916. Thomas Kent and Roger Casement are the only two Irish republicans executed outside Dublin for their part in the events of Easter week, 1916.

Nuala remembers her father telling her that he saw Maud Gonne on the street in Dublin and how he cried the day Michael Collins was shot. After the Civil War, Patrick Hogan joined the Free State Army and eventually became a body guard for Eamon DeValera.

Sixteen on Sixteen



When Sociologist Reginald Byron visited Albany, New York in 1989, he was “struck by its Irishness.” Albany, he wrote, is “one of the most Irish places in America and has been so for a century and a half.” Byron then used Albany as the case study for his book, Irish America, published in 1999.


Thomas Dongan- 2nd Earl of Limerick

The Irish have been shaping the Albany area since the days of the Dutch. The British Governor, Thomas Dongan was an Irishman and his Dongan Charter contained unprecedented social freedoms for the colony. The Irish formed St. Mary’s in Albany, the second Catholic Church in the state of New York during the early years of the new American Republic; they played a major role in the construction of the Erie Canal; and they changed the demographics of the region in the years of the famine. Michael Nolan was the first Irish mayor of the city of Albany in 1878 and, Times Union publisher, Martin Glynn, the first Irish Catholic governor in 1913. Through the 20th century, the Irish continued to come to the Capital District forming vibrant AOH Halls in Troy, Schenectady, Watervliet, and Albany. The opening of the Irish American Heritage Museum in 1986 stands as testament to the impact the Irish have had in the Capital District, New York State, and, indeed, to the entire county.


James Connolly- signer of the Proclamation of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic in 1916. For portions of time between 1902-1905 he lived in Troy, NY.

It is not surprising that the connections between the Irish in the tri-city area and Ireland were fluid and active through the 20th century and remain so today. As part of the centenary commemorations of the Easter Rising of 1916, the Irish American Heritage Museum is posting a column of family connections that sixteen Capital District residents have to the Revolutionary years in Ireland, years that charted the course of Ireland for the future. The memories involve not only 1916, but the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.

We will continue to look for more family memory and stories. If you have a story to tell about your own family’s connection to the Easter Rising in 1916 or the revolutionary decade that followed, please contact us at the museum and share your story with us!

The Influences of William Butler Yeats

The Influences of William Butler Yeats

At the Irish American Heritage Museum

October 3, 2015 @ 2PM


Joseph Valente and Dr. Eileen Morgan Zayachek


In continued celebration of the 150th birthday of William Butler Yeats, please join the Irish American Heritage Museum for a fascinating look at the work of William Butler Yeats. The Museum will be joined on October 3rd at 2PM by two fantastic scholars: University at Buffalo distinguished professor Joseph Valente and SUNY Oneonta Associate Professor – Associate Provost of Academic Programs Dr. Eileen Morgan-Zayachek who both will be discussing the influences of William Butler Yeats.

Joseph Valente is a lecturer and teacher at the Yeats Summer School and the Treasurer of the International Yeats Society. He is the coeditor of “Yeats and Afterwords” which receivedwilliam-butler-yeats the following review:

“This ground-breaking collection of essays examines Yeats’s sense of historical belatedness as theme, as trope, in formal embodiments such as the afterword, and in his strong critical shaping of literary history. In doing so, it historicizes Yeats’s own sense of history with unparalleled depth, while seriously acting on the acceptance that form is itself historical. In showing how Yeats’s moulding of the past was also the creation of a future, it offers a range of productive new starting-points for the study of this great poet.” — Edward Larrissy, emeritus, Queen’s University, Belfast

Dr. Eileen Morgan-Zayachek will be speaking on the importance of Maud Gonne to Yeats’s early poetry and explain how the fraught end of their relationship and the way their conflict reflects on Yeats’s late political views.

A native of Long Island and graduate of Colgate University, Professor Morgan-Zayachek returned to New York in 2000 after spending the previous decade at Big 10 universities in the Midwest. She received a doctorate in English from Indiana University in 1998, specializing in Irish studies, and completed a two-year lectureship at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She has received research grants and teaching commendations at both schools, her publications include essays on the film Michael Collins and the novels of Irish author Edna O’Brien. Her current research focuses on the influence of radio in Ireland, and her essay on Irish quiz programs during WWII appeared in the winter 2001 edition of History Ireland. She has also introduced and co-edited a collection of essays, A Century of Irish Drama: Widening the Stage (Indiana UP, 2001). She teaches courses in composition, critical theory, and Irish, British and American literature, and has a particular interest in William Butler Yeats.

This program is free and open to the public thanks to the sponsorship of the Michael Carroll family.

Street parking is free on weekends! Join the Museum, located at 370 Broadway Albany, NY 12207, on October 3, 2015 at 2PM for this event. Please do not park in lots located behind the Museum.

Charles Carroll

Charles Carroll

by Elizabeth Marsh


Charles Carroll of Carrolton would go down in history as the only Catholic signatory of the Declaration of Independence. Born in 1737 in Annapolis, Maryland to a wealthy family of Irish heritage, Carroll would go on to become the heir of his family’s fortunes. He was schooled in France beginning when he as eight years old, and would not return to the colonies until he was twenty-eight.

After returning from Europe, Carroll went on to maintain his house and grounds in Carrollton. However, he was eventually thrust into the political upheaval present in the colonies thatcharles carroll would culminate in the American Revolution. As a Catholic, Charles Carroll was barred from politics in Maryland, but that did not stop him from becoming a dominant figure in the events rising up to the revolution. This became evident when a series of his letters were published in the Maryland Gazette where he protested Britain’s ‘right’ to tax the colonies without representation. “Carroll gained public acclaim for embracing the principle that the people are the true foundation of government and emerged as the citizens’ ‘patriot’. He was then appointed to the Annapolis Committee of Correspondence and Council of Safety. Charles Carroll was soon elected to the 2nd Maryland Convention in 1774, his first elected office.”[1] The law preventing Catholics from serving office was disregarded at that point due to the impending revolution.

Carroll continued to become a stronger presence in the colonies, and he was sent in 1776 to enlist Canadian support in the conflict with Great Britain. While the endeavor was unsuccessful, when he returned to Maryland he was appointed as a representative for Maryland in the Second Continental Congress, along with three others from Maryland. He would go on to sign the Declaration of Independence, and serve the Continental Congress on the Board of War.

In 1778, he returned to Maryland to become involved in state politics. “He was elected to the Maryland Senate in 1781, and to the first Federal Congress in 1788. He returned again to the State Senate in 1790 and served there for 10 years. He retired from that post in 1800.”[2] Besides being the sole Catholic to sign the Declaration, he was the last living signatory. He died at ninety-five in 1832.

Works Cited

Charles Carroll House of Annapolis.“Charles Carroll of Carrollton: The Signer” Accessed on 23 March 2015. “Charles Carroll.” Last modified 4 July 1995.

[1] “Charles Carroll of Carrollton: The Signer,” Charles Carroll House of Annapolis, accessed on 23 March 2015,

[2] “Charles Carroll,”, last modified 4 July 1995,


Patrick Keely

Patrick Keely

By Christopher Powers

Patrick Keely was born in Thurles, County Tipperary, on August 9, 1816. Keely was introduced to carpentry and training in construction by his father, who was a draftsman and builder. cathedral

Keely came to the United States in 1842 and took up residence in Brooklyn. For a few years he worked as a carpenter without attracting any attention for his work. It was not until his friend, Roman Catholic Priest Sylvester Malone, was sent to Brooklyn (Williamsburg) to form a parish that Patrick Keeley would get his big break. Keely produced the designs from which the Church of Saints. Peter and Paul was built in 1847.

The much-praised work (unfortunately demolished in 1957) established Keely as a quality architect and builder of churches at a time when a number of new Roman Catholic churches were being planned. From this period on, Keely was the premier individual looked upon by the Roman Catholic Church in America for the design and construction of churches.

220px-Saint_Josephs_Church_AlbanyKeely’s work can be seen in Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Canada. Keely became known as the “pioneer Catholic architect of America.” Most of his work can be seen in New York State and throughout New England.

At the Home of the Irish American Heritage Museum, in Albany, NY, Keely designed both the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph’s Church. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is the second-oldest cathedral in the state, after St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. It is also the third oldest Catholic cathedral in the United State. St. Joseph’s Church (now closed) is located in the Ten Broeck Triangle section of Albany’s Arbor Hill neighborhood.