Stewart D. McLaurin (right), President of the White House Historical Association, presenting Daniel Mulhall, Irish Ambassador to the U.S., with the newly published book on James Hoban. Photo by John H. McShane.
By Keith Carney
Members of the Washington, D.C. Ancient Order of Hibernians joined the White House Historical Association on St. Patrick’s Day as they organized a historic plaque dedication in honor of James Hoban, Irish born architect of the White House.
The gathering took place at Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery in the nation’s capital.
The event was the first annual wreath-laying at the historic grave site of the Hoban family which will be planned each St. Patrick’s week going forward.
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The event was emceed by Stewart McLaurin, President of the White House Historical Association, with remarks provided by Denise VanBuren, President General of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Irish Ambassador to the United Staes, Daniel Mulhall.
The invocation and final blessing were offered by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America.
Ms. VanBuren mentioned that not only was Kilkenny-born Hoban Irish but many of the builders of the White House that he hired were Irish immigrants.
To assist his Irish workforce, Hoban helped establish St. Patrick’s Church a few blocks from the White House site.
He designed and financially supported the construction of the church and was eventually buried it one of St. Patrick’s graveyards.
As the city of Washington grew, the archdiocese created a large Catholic cemetery on its outskirts and moved all the parish graveyards to the new location. That move included the family gravesite of James Hoban and his relatives.
Speaking to those assembled, Ambassador Mulhall noted that this was his one and only in-person St. Patrick’s Day event this year.
The ambassador said that even the Irish descended president Joseph Biden would be on a virtual Shamrock presentation event with the Taoiseach this year.
He said that James Hoban would have grown up in the same neighborhood as Daniel O’Connell the Liberator, and most likely would have known him and his quest for Catholic rights in Ireland at that time.
The ambassador mentioned the attendance of the AOH in the audience and was happy that he sees members of the order wherever he travels throughout the U.S.
The White House Historical Association presented the ambassador with a newly published history on James Hoban in a bound leather case.
He was the second recipient of a copy. President Biden received the first copy in circulation from the association at the White House.