A History Of The Pipes And Drums of The Emerald Society - New York City Police Department
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Since 1945, the most remarkable change in the character of Irish music in New York has been the proliferation of the bagpipe band. The bands appearing in the St. Patrick's Day parade in 1945 consisted of five Irish county bands (Tyrone, Cork, Armagh, Tipperary and Monahan) along with the New York Gaelic Pipers and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Pipe Band. 1 The county bands drew their support from their respective organizations for whom they would perform at periodic functions and fund raisers. These organizations supported social and other needs of the newly arrived immigrant and his dependents. The pipe bands, however, drew their membership from wherever it was available and those joining these bands did so more out of convenience than any sense of loyalty to the county organization . The roster of pipe bands marching forty-five years later on St. Patrick's Day 1990 lists fortytwo bands. While Irish county pipe band participation remained a constant, a major new category of band had emerged, i.e., the service band associated with civil service organizations and their Emerald societies. The first service band to march in the New York St. Patrick's Day parade was the New York City Police Department Emerald Society Pipe Band which made its debut in 1961. This group, which drew on the Irish tradition ingrained for a century in the New York Police Department, was to serve as a model, a source of inspiration and, in many cases through its membership, a resource for later bands which were to follow.
Earlier Police Band The history of New York police bands goes back to 1903 when a band began which consisted of sixty-five brass musicians, supported by thirty-four singing policemen in the Glee Club. It was drawn from the ranks, officially recognized by the Department and often called from police duties to perform at civic functions and official events. This band existed for over fifty years until February 8, 1954 when it was disbanded by Police Commis-Reprinted by kind permission of Robert J. Hogan © 1990. sioner Francis Adams who felt it necessary to keep the bandsmen on street patrols at all times. 2 In the years that followed, the Police Department hired a band to lead them in the annual St. Patrick's Day parade. This band was part of the Police Athletic League which provided recreational services to youngsters. Policemen complained they were unable to march to the quick-paced music of the youngsters.
Police Emerald Society The dissatisfaction with this band and the desire for a return to the concept of a police band were presented to Lieutenant Charles Crowley, president of the Police Department's Emerald Society, at the general membership meeting on February 1, I960. 3 With the predominance of the Irish in the department, and with the Emeralds its largest fraternal organization, it was understandable that the forum to suggest a new band would be an Emerald Society meeting. The Emerald Society, a fraternal organization of Irish and Irish-American police officers, had organized in 1953 and marched for the first time as a group in the 1954 St. Patrick's Day parade, the year the original police band was disbanded. The organization was new and its leaders and members enthusiastic about the social, civic and cultural ramifications of fielding an Irish band. In addition, the size of the society provided a source of sponsorship and a pool of potential recruits.
The Emerald Society had been founded rather late in the evolution of Police Department fraternal organizations. The Italian-American Columbians were founded in 1932; the Jewish Shomrim Society in 1924 and the Afro-American Guardians in 1949. Perhaps these groups organized early because they saw what was perceived as an Irish dominated department. It is conceivable the Irish saw little need to organize since they viewed their fraternal organization as the department itself.
The decision to start a bagpipe as opposed to a brass marching band probably occurred for several reasons. A brass band consists of a number of instruments, each of which might require an instructor and musical coordinator. However, a bagpipe band requires only three major instruments, the bagpipes, snare drum and the bass/tenor drum. This is not to suggest that learning or playing the bagpipes is easier. Bagpipe music must be memorized and played without the aid of sheet music often used to prompt and guide a brass band. Another factor in the selection of a pipe band was the fact that the idea took root within the Emerald Society where the pipes were perceived as a traditional Irish instrument. Finally, the marching pace of the pipe Photo by Tom Matthews, courtesy of the Irish Echo. themselves as minoritiesin 21 Vol. 5, 1990-91 _. New York Irish History band was closer to the natural gait of the policeman than the faster military pace of the brass band.
Lieutenant Crowiey appointed those members making the suggestion, Patrolman Edward Maloney, Sgt. John Hartigan and Policewoman Kathleen Cronin, to a committee to explore the possibility. Ed Maloney, of the 25th Precinct in East Harlem, took the concept band directly to a man actively involved in New York Irish affairs who was also a piper and a member of the Police Department, Captain Pearse Meagher, commander of the 44th Precinct in the Bronx. Maloney met with Meagher in his precinct office and received an immediate, positive and enthusiastic commitment to start a band.
The Meagher Family To understand the influences on the band during its conceptual stage, you must understand the dynamism and energy level of Pearse Meagher. A graduate of St. Peter's College, Meagher also held a law degree and a Masters in Education from Fordham University. In the department he held positions as head of the Lieutenant's Benevolent Association, chairman of the Superior Officer's Council and, at the time of his retirement, inspector in command of south Manhattan detectives. In the Department's file of members fluent in foreign languages, he was listed as proficient in Gaelic. He served as president of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and was active with their Glee Club. 4 It was no surprise that this man of many accomplishments, from St. Nicholas of Tolentine parish on Fordham Road in the Bronx, would take on the challenge of organizing a band in a department that had eliminated one, with a tradition of over fifty years of service, only six years earlier.
The first of the Meaghers in America was Patrick Francis Meagher (1871-1967) who emigrated to New York at age eleven from Fethard, County Tipperary. In 1891, he joined the "Meagher Guard" of the Fighting 69th Regiment which, at that time, discreetly served as a training ground for the Irish Volunteers, a nationalist Irish group whose objective was Irish independence. Patrick also served as a captain in the Irish Volunteers 5 . Patrick's musical instruction had been provided by the Canadian born Pipe Major Angus MacMillan Frazier. Patrick in turn instructed his son, Thomas, who became proficient on the pipes at fourteen.
In the 1920s, Thomas began playing with a series of local pipe bands. His participation as a piper and instructor extended over sixty years with various bands including the Scottish Highlanders, the New York Celtic, County Cork, Armagh and Tipperary bands. As an instructor and member, Tom had a profound effect on the New York Police Band. His brother, Pearse, also began playing the pipes at an early age. In 1934, at fourteen, he won the Irish Feis Junior Piping Championship; in 1946, he won the Senior Piping Championship 6 . Over the years, seven Meaghers have been members of the New York Police Emerald Pipe Band as well as many other pipe bands in the metropolitan area.
Organizational Initiatives The concept began to take shape with an announcement made in the Irish Echo that plans would be discussed for the formation of an Irish pipe band and Glee Club at the Police Emerald Society membership meeting of June 6, 1960 at the Irish Institute, 346 West 48th Street. 7 At that meeting, Pearse Meagher, sensing the moment, marched in playing his bagpipes while it was in progress. After some discussion, he courageously committed the new band to debut on St. Patrick's Day, 1961. The founding members first met on July 16, 1960 at the New York Athletic Club on 59th Street and 7th Avenue. In attendance were Patrolmen Doug Connell and Edward Maloney, Sgt. 22 . Jack Hartigan, Detective Barney Ferguson, representing the Emerald Society, and Captain Meagher. The discussion covered musical instruction, funding for uniforms and equipment, recruitment of members and a general exchange of ideas on getting started. An offer was made by the Emerald Society to provide start-up funding; the idea was rejected that night but accepted at a subsequent meeting when it became evident that borrowing was necessary. The new band agreed to repay eighty percent of the loan by 1967; the remainder was to be forgiven in return for the band's participation in Emerald Society events.
Recruitment was to proceed by word of mouth and through the periodic newsletter issued by the Society.
While there was no organized support from any of the city's other Irish organizations, the New York City Police Department and its Emerald Society had a number of social links with existing Irish pipe bands. After the announcement of the band's formation, a number of police officers from county bands shifted their allegiance to the new police band. From Fermanagh came Detective Betty Elliot of the Missing Persons Squad; Armagh committed the talents of Patrolman Tom Meagher of the 114th Precinct; Monahan yielded Patrolman Barney Quinn of the Emergency Services Division and the civilian blacksmith of the Police Department, Patrick McKenna. The pipe major of the Saint Columbkille Pipe Band of Kearney, New Jersey, Sean McGonigal, would help train the drum major. The New York Celtic Band was a source for the loan of drums. This early assistance, while significant, would not have been sufficient to get the new band started. It was the support of the recently formed Emerald Society and its membership which provided the major impetus. There was a close relationship between it and the emerging band. Virtually all new band members were also Emerald members and some, such as Finbar Devine, were charter and founding members of the Society itself. 8 Instruction The piping instruction was delegated to Thomas Meagher who was appointed Pipe Major. Tom's ability was proven over the years with the County Armagh Pipers whom he trained at the Church of the Holy Scapular, the Carmelite Church, on East 28th Street in Manhattan. For snare drum instruction, the band enlisted County Monahan born Patrick McKenna. At the suggestion of Lieutenant Crowley, Patrolman Finbar Devine, who joined with the intent of learning the bagpipes, was designated to serve at the head of the formation as the Drum Major.
Drum Major Finbar Devine At the time, a Drum Major leading a pipe band was a rare sight; Finbar was to change that. He brought a wealth of experience, an imposing bearing and impressive background in the Irish-American community to the position. His parents emigrated from counties Sligo and Cork. 9 Raised in the solidly Irish parish of Good Shepherd at 207th Street and Broadway in the Inwood section of Manhattan, Finbar played the snare drum as a student at the parish school. After attending New York University and a stint in the Rockaways as a lifeguard, Finbar began concurrent careers with two of New York's most established Irish military organizations, the New York Police Department and the Fighting 69th Regiment of Father Francis P. Duffy and George M. Cohan fame. In both careers, encompassing sixty years of service, he attained the rank of sergeant, including the designation as a six stripe master sergeant with the 69th Regiment. His military bearing and marching skills, now long the standard for Irish-American pipe bands, were taught by the well known Sean McGonigal, founder of the St. Columbkille and Brian Boru Pipe Bands in New Jersey. 10 New York Irish History Vol. 5, 1990-91 Uniforms In August 1960, a general meeting of the band was held at the Tough Club on West 14th Street in Manhattan. A sketch for uniforms was presented by Betty Elliot and her brother Ed, a patrolman. Following the Irish tradition of the solid color uniform, the blue and gold of the New York Police Department was selected. The sketches were given to Policewoman Kathleen Cronin who bought the material and fabricated the kilts. At the time, there were few women in the Police Department or in existing pipe bands. Cronin and Elliot, who were of Irish extraction, were attracted to the new band as were the men. Their enthusiasm and musical talents were welcomed and their acceptance by the male members of the band was not viewed as either precedent setting or an incursion into a male bastion.
The tunics were ordered from a local uniform supply vendor.
The balmorals (hats) were a gift from the Canadian Embassy to return a favor for a motorcycle escort provided by drummer Doug Connell for the Canadian Prime Minister. Drums were borrowed from the New York Celtic Pipe Band who stored them in a pub called Stack's located near the 46th Precinct on Ryer Avenue in the Bronx. The first appearance of the band was made in civilian clothes at the Emerald Society Fall Social on November 2, 1960 at the City Centre ballroom on West 55th Street. The band played five tunes including such traditional Irish marches as "The Minstrel Boy" and "Wearing of the Green." In anticipation of St. Patrick's Day, practices continued in the junior high school next door to the Irish Institute at 326 West 48th Street. Members contributed a dollar a week for janitorial fees and other expenses. policewomen, a retired policeman and the police blacksmith stepped off to lead the Police Emerald Society. Patrolman Finbar Devine of the 18th Precinct in Times Square led the formation as drum major wearing a feather bonnet borrowed from Sean McGonigal.
After the parade several members returned to the formation area to march up once again with and show their support for the County Armagh Pipe Band. The band also began an after parade tradition by playing for the Emerald Society marchers at a reception held at City Centre ballroom on West 55th Street. The following year, the band was photographed for the first time in their new uniforms and traditional kilts at the Roseland Ballroom on West 52nd Street. 14 Early Years The early years of the band's relationship with the Police Department were marred by negative impressions. Rosters of members performing had to be delivered to headquarters' officials who, on occasion, would question bandsmen at performances about their tours of duty. The Department's reaction was extremely cautious and these spot checks were made to insure all performances and practices were conducted on off duty time. The scrutiny both real and imagined had a chilling and demoralizing effect on the band.
In addition, the Police Department contributed nothing to the band. All expenses of uniforms, equipment, transportation and other necessities were borne entirely by the bandsmen personally, by the band or, in some cases, the Emerald Society. Newspaper articles at the time were to quote, and senior members of the band nostalgically remember, Pearse Meagher describing how the bandsmen practiced and played on their own time and acquired in-Band's First Appearance, November 2, 1960. Emerald Society Fall Social. (Top row): Tom Crowley, Joe Mullane. Kevin Meagher, Dennis Dunleavy, Doug Connell, Don Waugh, Ed Maloney, C. Crowley. (Front row): Tom Meagher, Pat Lawlor, Betty Elliot, Pearse Meagher, Kathleen Cronin, Barney Quinn. Pat McKenna (Finbar Devine missing from photo). Debut The date selected for the band's debut, March 17, 1961, was steeped in significance. The year 1961 was the Patrician year, the fifteen hundredth anniversary of the death of Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland and the archdiocese of New York. 11 An article in the Irish Echo described the efforts made in the past year to field a Police Department band and reported that Irish pipers go back to Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf in 1040. 12 The debut was marked by several firsts: the first police bagpipe band in the Western hemisphere; the first armed pipe band in the United States; and the first band to lead the New York contingent since the dissolution of a police marching band seven years earlier. 13 In their regular police uniforms, twenty four active policemen, two struments at their own expense. In retrospect, one must remember that the birth of this organization occurred in a difficult atmosphere: without official sanction, it challenged the Department's 1954 decision to dissolve the half century tradition set by the Police brass band.
On the positive side was the enormously enthusiastic reception of New Yorkers. Early appearances were made at some of the most notable gathering places of the New York Irish including the parishes of St. Rose of Lima's, Good Shepherd, St. Luke's, and Holy Name. Practice locations were often moved in the early years but their source was always rooted in the band's association with New York Irish circles and included Cardinal Hayes High School, the Edward L. Grant American Legion Hall in the Bronx and the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue. 23 Vol. 5, 1990-91 New York Irish History In 1964-65, the musical depth of the band increased with the acquisition of instructor Murdock Buchanan, a Scotsman from the Hebrides Islands. Murdock had a keen interest in the band and he often walked along the parade route watching the performance. During this period, the band was also fortunate to attract Al Bosworth, a player of Jewish extraction whose piping talents and instructional ability were quickly recognized and respected by the band. His cordial and affable nature earned him a comradeship and fraternity with the band that endured for many years. Bosworth left the police band in 1969 to assist and found a number of other emerging bagpipe bands in the New York City area.
The knees have it!! Dublin, Ireland, 1970. Band Organization The band was organized democratically. It held elections every two years for the Board of Officers, consisting of a chief executive called the bandmaster, an assistant bandmaster, treasurer and secretary. The Board was to oversee all administrative functions such as bookings, attendance and the procurement of uniforms and equipment. The bandmaster appoints a number of major positions including the pipe major who supervises all musical activities, and the drum major, who is in charge at all performances and drills.
The band is guided by a constitution and the wishes of bandsmen as expressed at monthly membership meetings. There are standards for attendances at practices and performances, and participation is reviewed at six month intervals. Over the years the band has participated in hundreds of civic and social functions and the demands on a member's time are significant. To compensate for the many times away from home, several outings include an invitation to the member's family. In the course of a year, all family members are invited to the piper's picnic in the summer and the piper's ball in the spring.
Performance In Ireland-1970 From its inception, the band discussed the desirability of performing in Ireland. As the years passed, its likelihood appeared more and more remote. In the Spring of 1967, Detective Finbar Devine, while vacationing in Ireland, discussed the band and a possible performance by them with a reporter for the Irish Independent. The article asked that any person or groups interested in the band playing a festival, fleadh or feis contact Finbar. 15 It described the group as "New York's gun toting pipe band" but advised that, should the band come to Ireland, they would leave their "hardware" behind. The band was compared to the Garda band and complimented on recent appearances in New York for such notables as Mayor John V. Lindsay and a host of delegates to the United Nations. 16 In 1970, Pearse Meagher had a conversation with John A. 24 Mulcahy, a major international industrialist who was born in Ireland and came to the United States at an early age. Mulcahy was intrigued at the idea that the sons and grandsons of Irish exiles were part of such an impressive tradition in the New York Police Department and that the pipe band seemed to be the epitome of that tradition. It was his vision to bring the band to one of the largest gatherings in Ireland, the All-Ireland Hurling Finals scheduled in Croke Park, Dublin on Sunday, September 6, 1970. Mr. Mulcahy agreed to finance the airfare and other incidental expenses to field a thirty member band. Meagher and Bandmaster Ray McConville brought the news to the membership at their meeting hall in the Edward L. Grant American Legion Hall in the Bronx. The enthusiasm for the visit immediately swept up the membership and practices were promptly moved to Randall's Island Stadium to facilitate marching drills.
At the time of the invitation, the roster of the band totalled twenty-eight members, the same number that had marched that first St. Patrick's Day nine years earlier. While members came and went, the size of the band remained somewhat constant.
From this point on, the popularity and reputation of the band increased dramatically.
When the Board of Officers reviewed the band roster, sentiments were expressed to bring former members who left for personal reasons but contributed much in the formative years. On July 22nd, McConville prepared an official request to Police Commissioner Howard J. Leary to perform in Ireland. 17 Also making the trip were two retired police officers, Tom Meagher and Joseph Mullane, Lt. Martin Harding of the Yonkers Police Department and Pearse's oldest son, Colin. Pearse and the Board of Officers agreed to finance the airfare for five members in addition to the thirty sponsored by Mulcahy.
The practices over and departure near, the band was invited to a farewell at New York's City Hall by one of its most ardent supporters, Mayor John V. Lindsay. Lindsay and his wife Mary frequently called on the band to perform at their Gracie Mansion residence at civic affairs and events such as the wedding of their daughter. On August 31st, the band played on the steps of City Hall and were given an official farewell by the Mayor who gave them a letter of greeting to his counterpart, the Mayor of Dublin. 18 The band left on Thursday, September 3rd and arrived in Dublin on Friday, September 4th where the band was greeted by the Irish Press. A photo of the band appeared on the front page of this national publication the following day. 19 The band was lodged in the recently opened Tara Towers Hotel on the south side of Dublin. On Saturday, a full practice was held at Croke Park with particular attention to the marches of "The Boys of Wexford" and "The Boys From the County Cork" in recognition of the counties competing for the hurling championship. Since the band didn't bring its own color guard, efforts were made to recruit members of the Irish Police, the Garda Siochana. Marty Harding held a brief discussion with his wife Joan's cousin, Sgt. Ned White of the Garda. White immediately called the Chief Superintendent at Dublin Castle, made the request and received permission. White quickly relayed the permission to Harding who was able to pick five members of the Garda to serve as the Band's color guard. 20 On Sunday, September 6th, thirty five bandsmen, preceded by five gardai, carrying the flags of New York City, the United States and Ireland, paraded for the hurling fans and the nation at Croke Park. While the level of enthusiasm for the band's performance did not equal that of the fans' for their teams, one aspect of the event was unequaled in its significance for this group of "Returned Yanks"-Pearse's address to the fans.
The portion of the stadium with VIP seating is called the Hogan Stand. This day, the President of Ireland, Eamon De New York Irish History Vol. 5, 1990-91 Valera, the Prime Minister John Mary Lynch and the band's sponsor John A. Mulcahy were seated together in the Hogan Stand.
As the band came off the field after one of several performances, Meagher, accompanied by Bandmaster McConville and Assistant Bandmaster Dan Danaher, lead the way to the VIP's and introduced himself and the others. Always the man to seize the moment, Meagher went to the microphone, addressed the fans in the Gaelic language and extended greetings from the band, the Police Department and the people of New York. It is difficult to imagine a more poignant moment. Mulcahy's vision of the Returned Yank, the Irish American tradition of the New York Police Department, and link between Ireland and the United States were never more evident than at this one moment at Croke Park.
After the performance, the band dispersed throughout Ireland to search for never before seen relatives and to explore the country. Over the next fifteen years, the band made ten more official visits, three of which were sponsored by the generosity of Mr.
Mulcahy. During this time, life-long friendships were made, normally distant relations with relatives were enhanced, and the band gained an insight into Irish culture shared by few Americans. While there is much to be said for the similarities of the Irish and Irish-American cultures, there are however, differences. These differences were to become startlingly evident when, in 1984, the band marched in a small seaside town in Ireland called Bundoran.
The Conflict at Bundoran, Donegal, Ireland The most reknowned act for Irish reunification in recent years was the sacrifice of the ten hunger strikers in 1981 which focused the world's attention on the struggle over partition in the north of Ireland and precipitated many demonstrations in America. After 1981, commemorative assemblages were held annually in New York in which the band took part along with many other Irish-American organizations. Therefore, it did not seem unusual when, in 1984, an offer was extended by Joe O'Neill, a businessman and local elected official from Bundoran, Donegal, for the band to participate in a similar commemoration in Ireland.
The band already had two official appearances scheduled in Ireland during 1984. The first was in late August at the Rose of Tralee festival in Kerry; the second was scheduled with the Mayor of Dublin the following Tuesday at the Mansion House in Dublin.
The band's participation in Kerry went well and was reported by The Kerry/Corkman as encouraging a mood of patriotism. 21 On Friday, August 31st, the first of a series of critical newspaper accounts appeared concerning the band's scheduled appearance at a parade in Bundoran commemorating the deaths of the 1981 hunger strikers. The criticism stemmed from the fact that the parade and commemoration ceremony were sponsored by Sinn Fein, the political arm of the Irish Republican Army. Not all bandsmen planned to go to Bundoran after Tralee. But as the criticism in the news accounts continued, bandsmen who were vacationing throughout Ireland after the Tralee Festival and a group (including Bandmaster John Tansey) arriving from New York the night of August 31st converged on Bundoran, the center of the gathering storm.
Before The March At issue throughout the controversy which followed was a Garda statement that at an "official" meeting with the band they had requested that, as brother police officers, the band refrain from participating with Sinn Fein. This group had links to the Irish Republican Army which they believed were responsible for the killing of a number of Gardai in recent years. There were several attempts by Garda on Friday, August 31st to arrange a meeting with the band leader. Dan Danaher, a former bandmaster, was called to a meeting with the Garda in businessman Joe O'Neill's home. Believing Dan to be the leader, he was asked if the band would refrain from marching; Dan answered no. Pipers Jim Gill and Mike McCormick were approached by Superintendent Don Murray who asked if either of them were the leader. They said no but the bandmaster, John Tansey, was on his way from New York and would soon be available to speak to him. An unidentified Garda (believed to be off duty?) sought out piper Rich Devlin and made several uncomplimentary remarks implying that Devlin and the band should be ashamed. So, while the Garda made a number of official and unofficial attempts to communicate with the leadership of band, they had not in fact done so. John Tansey arrived in Ireland Friday, August 31st but did not reach Bundoran until the following morning, the day of the commemoration.
On the morning of Saturday, September 1st, the band assembled in uniform in front of Joe O'Neill's pub. Bundoran was now the scene of approximately twenty-five to thirty Gardai, hundreds of marchers, reporters and major television newscasters including the BBC. In an air of isolation, the group debated their course of action. The band was concerned about the nasty comments made to Devlin the previous evening and annoyed with newspaper accounts describing the band as "living in the past," "manipulated," 22 and "dupes." 23 The band considered whether their two member color guard should march in the uniform of the New York City Police Department. It was quickly decided not to do so; it was agreed that, if the band was to march, the group would be identified only as the New York Police Pipe Band and not as an official representative of the Department.
The March and Controversy John Tansey arrived in Bundoran that morning and began immediate discussions with the band. He spoke to Gill to find out if the Garda official who had sought him out Friday evening was available; Gill said he didn't see him. The band waited in front of O'Neill's in uniform and in plain view for a representative of the Garda to come forward. During this period of uncertainty, many expressed an alienation over the unfriendliness of the Gardai. One Garda however, who passed the band while driving a superior officer, raised his hand above the roof of the car out of the sight of the superior, and gave a thumbs up gesture of good luck. There was an affinity with the organizers and marchers which included families of a number of the hunger strikers. When no one came forward from the Gardai, the band fell in and the march went on as scheduled.
The controversy that followed reached the heads of government in the United States and Ireland. In a headline story in the Sunday Independent, the Prime Minister of Ireland called the band a disgrace and said he had contacted the White House to prevent the march. 24 The following day the front page of the Evening Herald announced that the Mayor of Dublin, Michael O'Halloran, had cancelled the band's scheduled engagement at the Dublin Mansion House. 25 O'Halloran repeated the erroneous impression received before the march and most likely communicated to the Irish Police Commissioner, Laurence Wren, that the leadership of the band was asked not to participate. 26 Both the Garda Siochana and the Royal Irish Constabulary expressed surprise at the Band's participation in the march. 27 Newspaper accounts heaped relentless, unwarranted criticism on the band. Erroneous statements included the charge the band was associated with Noraid (the Irish Northern Aid Committee, a New York based organization) and sang IRA songs during the march. They focused on the Mountbatten assassination years earlier off the Donegal coast and reported that the march was purposely held on the anniversary of the assassination. By coincidence, one of the organizers of the commemoration, Sinn Fein Vice President John Joe McGirl, was reported to be the uncle of a man who had been arrested and acquitted of the assassina- 25 Vol. 5, 1990-91 New York Irish History tion. 28 The press criticized Tansey for being set up by Sinn Fein 29 and branded the band as uninformed. The Donegal Democrat erroneously reported that the band saluted a painting of hunger striker Kieran Doherty during the march. The press fed on each others' stories and stretched Bundoran into an ominous tale.
The band caucused several days later in Dublin at a pub owned by a long-time friend of the band, Noel Kinsella. Long time supporters of the band, like Derek Warfield and the Wolfe Tones, who had arranged the performance at the Mansion House, also attended. Tansey made a number of phone calls to Garda Jack Marrinan, head of the Irish Police Association, to ask him to participate.
Marrinan did not respond to calls prior to the meeting nor did he return other calls by Tansey prior to the band's departure from Ireland. There was serious debate but the event was unfairly characterized by the newspapers as a hooley. 30 Since the atmosphere was so highly charged, it was agreed by all that the band's position would be voiced only by the bandmaster. In a statement to the news media, Tansey expressed regets not for what was done but for the unfair impression given to the Garda. He reiterated the fact that the band's sole purpose was to commemorate the sacrifice of the hunger strikers. 31 The statement was unfairly characterized as an apology.
In the days following the march, no public figure in Ireland supported the band's right to march or express its opinion. The Bundoran incident (brought about by the band's desire to recognize the sacrifice of the hunger strikers) also publicized Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein was officially censored under Section 31 of the Irish Constitution which permits the government to censor individuals and groups whose tenets are deemed adverse to the government. The day the band left Ireland, September 9th, a letter to the editor by author Nollaig O'Gadhra was published in the Sunday Independent. O'Gadra courageously spoke out against the Prime Minister's charge, and the Garda's assertion, that the Band supported activities associated with the killing of Gardai. 32 This letter signalled a turning point in public opinion, and anticipated Irish-American reaction to the event.
Return To New York Upon its return to New Ybrk, support for the Band's march was unanimous. Sinn Fein's New York paper, the Irish People, ran a feature story and, in its editorial, called the march the band's finest hour. 33 Other articles supporting the band began to appear. John Kelly's "Dublin Report" in the Irish Echo criticized the South for trying to divorce itself from the problems in the North. 34 Eamon McCann of the Sunday World wrote that issues raised in supportingthe IRA in America were the same raised in Ireland and that these American bandsmen were more familiar with Ireland than given credit. 35 36 At the general business meeting of the band following Bundoran on Tuesday, September 11th, it was decided not to take a public position but to allow the controversy to subside. It did not subside and, in 1985, numerous newspaper accounts appeared reporting that Irish officials were advising the band not to repeat the march. To put the matter to rest, the president of the Police Emerald Society and Bandmaster John Tansey agreed to submit a position paper drafted by this author which was published in the Emerald Society's newsletter of Summer 1985 and in the Irish Echo. 37 After restating the little regard shown by the Irish government and press for the basic American right to freedom of expression, the Band, in the interest of mending its relationship with the Garda, agreed not to march in Bundoran in uniform that year. A number of bandsmen in civilian clothes were to participate privately and without notoriety.
Conclusion It was significant that this controversial 1984 journey to Ireland - which can be symbolically linked to Irish emigration, Irish employment by the Police Department, the establishment of an Irish Pipe Band and the return to the country of emigration-could have resulted in such harsh criticism. No single parade or event in the history of the band caused so much controversy and debate in both Ireland and New York. Whether the band's participation at Bundoran was right or wrong, it demonstrated an intolerance, insensitivity and lack of understanding by the Irish government and press of the freedoms enjoyed by generations of Irish and Irish-Americans in the United States.
The history of the New York Police Emerald Society Pipe Band draws on many New York Irish themes. From New York's Irish neighborhoods to the New York Police Department, these sons and daughters of the immigrants formed a musical group which was to serve as a model for others and, on an international scale, highlight the cultural and political differences between themselves and the native Irish from which they came.
Appendix A Bagpipe Bands Marching St. Patrick's Day, 1945 to 1990 In 1945, seven bands marched at the St. Patrick's Day Parade while in 1990 forty two participated. In addition to the increase in number, there were some significant changes in the type of organizations fielding bands. The chart below shows the dramatic increase in occupationally oriented bands especially those of the civil service/Emerald Society type.
Orientation Civil Service/Emerald Society Labor Unions Irish Counties Colleges Miscellaneous Geographical Area 1945 0 0 5 0 2 0 1961 1 0 6 1 9 0 1990 14 4 4 2 13 5 Total 7 17 42 Source: 1945 Irish World; 1961, 1990 Irish Echo.
Appendix B A Profile of the Band Member Today's band member is of Irish ancestry with an evolutionary pattern in the New York City area typical of the Irish experience. One-third have at least one parent, and eighty percent at least one grandparent born in Ireland. Thirty-three of thirty-four responding to an internal survey were born in New York City; the other was born in Ireland. Of those New York City born, over one-half were born in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and over 90% remained New York City residents at the time they were sworn into the Police Department. But a pattern of migration out of the City is evident in the next generation with about 2/3 of the children of bandsmen now residing in the suburbs, primarily Nassau and Rockland counties.
In educational advances over four generations, it is evident the American dream is being pursued through education. Although the children's final educational level remains to be seen, the results to date are impressive.
Educational Attainments of Four Generations Generation Relationship "Level Attained 1 Grandparents 71% grammar school 2 Parents 68% high school & college grad 3 Bandsmen 60% college or grad school grad 4 Children of 80% high school, Bandsmen college, grad school 26 New York Irish History Vol. 5, 1990-91 • New York City Police Department s Emerald Pipe Band proudly leading the Bundoran parade The Irish People (NY.), 15 September 1984 The tendency for one generation to emulate another is more evident in children following musical pursuits than careers in the Police Department or Civil Service.
Twice as many bandsmen's children play a musical instrument as did the bandsmen's parents. The number of bandsmen's parents choosing a police career compared to the bandsmen's children is about the same.
The overwhelming majority of bandsmen were trained by other bandsmen or instructors hired by the band. Bandsmen freely gave of their talents in assisting eleven local and five out-of-state bands, including Chicago and Cleveland. Finally, the typical bandsman is an experienced aggressive police officer actively associated with other Irish social organizations. The average bandsman has eighteen years service, eleven awards for outstanding service and is a member of three related organizations.
Source: Internal Band Survey by Author, May 1990. FOOTNOTES 1 The Irish World, March 12, 1945, p. 4 2 Herald Tribune, March 12, 1961, p. 2 3 Emerald Pipe Band 25th Anniversary Journal, 1975 (pages unnumbered), author's personal collection. 4 The New York Times, April 5, 1973, p. 48 5 The Munster Tribune, May 23, 1967, p. 2 * Obituary, Pearse Meagher, The New York Times, April 5, 1973, p. 48 7 The Irish Echo, June 14, 1960, p. 2 8 Quote from Finbar Devine, videotaped interview on May 23, 1990, in possession of the New York Irish History Roundtable. * Finbar Devine's mother, Joan Twomey, came from the shadow of Blarney Castle in County Cork near the impressive St. Finbar's Cathedral. Both Finbar and the cathedral were named after St. Finbar, the patron saint of Cork. His father, Edmund Aloysius, was the brother of Canon Matthew Devine who was assigned to the local parish in the family home in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo.
Finbar's brother Kevin continued the family tradition of commitment to the Catholic faith when, in 1956, he was ordained in the Paulist Fathers at St.
Paul the Apostle Church on 60 St. and Columbus Ave. in Manhattan, (clipping from the Journal-American 1956, date unknown, p. 6) 1 Born in Scotland and raised in Ireland, McGonigal lived in New Jersey and was a major figure in the developing world of bagpipes. Fluent in Gaelic, he gave his band their commands in the Gaelic language. He died of a heart attack doing what he enjoyed most: playing the bagpipes at a Memorial Day parade in Kearney, New Jersey.
Irish Echo, June 4, 1960, p. 2 1 Ibid. 1 Herald Tribune, March 12, 1961, p. 2 1 The Irish Advocate, March 17, 1962, p. 1 1 Irish Independent, May 23, 1967, p. 8 1 Ibid. 1 Internal NYC Police memo, author's personal collection, dated July 22, 1970. ' New York Daily News, Sept. 1, 1970, p. 5 ' The Irish Press, Sept. 4, 1970, p. 1 ' Conversation with Lt. Martin Harding, May 15, 1990 The Kerry/Corkman, Aug. 31, 1984, p. 1 ' Evening Press, Sept. 1. 1984, p. 1 1 Irish Independent, Sept. 1, 1984, p. 3 1 Irish Independent, Sept. 2, 1984, p. 1 • Evening Herald, Sept. 3, 1984, p. 1 ' Ibid. 'Irish News, Sept. 1, 1984, page unknown 'Irish Independent, Sept. 1, 1984, p 3. 1 Irish Press, Sept. 3, 1984, p. 1 1 Irish Independent, Sept. 5, 1984, p. 3 Evening Herald, Sept. 4, 1984, page unknown 1 Sunday Independent, Sept. 9, 1984, page unknown 1 Irish People, Sept. 22, 1984, p. 1 1 Irish Echo, Sept. 22, 1984, p. 2 1 Sunday World, Sept. 9, 1984, p. 22 ' Bundoran segment supported by quotes from participants in the event in videotaped interview by Robert Hogan 29 May 1990 in the possession of the New York Irish History Roundtable. 1 Irish Echo, June 15, 1985, page unknown 27