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Siobhan Dennehy wins AOH JFK medal

By Ray O'Hanlon

Acknowledging her years of work on behalf of Irish immigrants in the United States, the Ancient Order of Hibernians this week announced that Siobhan Dennehy will be the recipient of the order's highest award, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medal.

Dennehy, who is executive director of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in New York, will be presented with the medal at the AOH biennial national convention set for in Cincinnati in July.

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Dennehy is the first woman recipient of the medal, a joint presentation made by the AOH and Ladies AOH.

"Members of both the AOH and LAOH national boards, as well as state presidents of both organizations, selected her based on nominations received from throughout the U.S.," said Brendan Moore, chairman of the medal awards committee and AOH national vice president.

The JFK medal is a joint AOH-LAOH award given to a Roman Catholic of Irish birth or descent and outstanding in their field of endeavor, Moore said in a statement announcing the award.

Margaret Hennessy, the awards committee vice chair and LAOH national vice president, said the medal was the highest honor the AOH bestows and only thirty had been awarded since the medal's inception in 1966.

Past recipients include astronaut James McDivitt, actor Pat O'Brien, mayors Richard J. Daley of Chicago and Raymond L. Flynn of Boston, John Cardinal O'Connor, and Nobel laureate John Hume.

Dennehy, according to the AOH announcement, "is a nationally recognized leader on all issues related to Irish


It notes that Dennehy's work on immigration goes back to the days of the Irish Immigration Reform Movement, this after her arriving in the U.S. from Ireland and her joining the IIRM's Woodlawn chapter in New York.

Dennehy, said the statement, had provided invaluable assistance to the AOH with regard to its constitutional mandate, that being "to encourage an equitable U.S. immigration law for Ireland, and cooperate with groups for a fair American immigration policy."

The statement added: "She has provided the AOH National Immigration Committee with assistance daily by sharing her contacts, initiatives and knowledge of the immigration rules and regulations. At a time when Irish immigration demands AOH attention, honoring Siobhan serves to magnify the AOH/LAOH commitment to the goals of the Order."

Dennehy, whose husband Dan is the chairman of the New York State AOH immigration committee, is the mother of two daughters, Ashling, and Cara.