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AOH sponsors community award for Arts & Culture heroes of the pandemic

A Special Award is to be presented to an individual or organisation who shored up community spirits during the pandemic by Irish arts and culture performances.

Sponsored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the award will be presented at the Irish Echo Arts & Culture celebration on 23 April (start 6pm Eastern) by AOH President Danny O'Connell.

"We believe in building community and are proud of the endeavors of our members in these testing times," he said, "but we have been bowled over by the work of our artists and performers and this special accolade is testament to their heroism during the pandemic."

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The six shortlisted from our 41 honourees are:



  • Maureen Kennedy, Founder Irish American Heritage Center, Cincinnati, O.H. A remarkable Irish institution occupying an entire city block and boasting a wide range of activities, all of which pivoted swiftly online.

  • Christopher Cooke, Piper & AOH Volunteer, Wake County, N.C. A stalwart of community uplift in North Carolina.


  • Sober St Patrick, Tami Ellen McLaughlin and Bill Reilly (pictured above). An event which has won plaudits for celebrating St Patrick’s Day in a manner which is true to Irish values and counters the perception of a link between drunkeness and St Patrick's Day.


  • Aisling Irish Center Céilí Band & Ballad Group, New York, N.Y. which has inspired the Irish community in the Bronx and Yonkers in this challenging time.

  • Elizabeth Stack, Irish American Heritage Museum, Albany, N.Y. Despite being closed, Elizabeth organized a diverse and compelling series of talks, lectures, concerts, and other online events, so that the mission of the museum to preserve and pass on Irish heritage was still fulfilled.

  • Diane Byrnes, Presenter Echoes of Erin Radio Show, Pittsburgh, P.A. who has been presenting her Sunday radio show for three decades.

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Meanwhile, voting is continuing online to identify the overall Arts hero of the pandemic. You can buy a ticket, price $9, to join the celebration on our website.