CRANFORD, NJ — St. Patrick’s Day is a time for revelry and good spirits. It’s also when men of Irish descent are honored for their contributions to the community. On Saturday, March 25, at 7 p.m., the Cranford Knights of Columbus will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by honoring Msg. Timothy J. Shugrue as the Irish Man of the Year and Mary O’Connor as the Irish Woman of the Year, in addition to recognizing a member of Cranford’s Police Department and Fire Department, at St. Patrick’s School gym in Cranford. For the Police Department, the man being honored is Sgt. Timothy O’Brien.
In addition to serving on the Cranford Police Department for the last 24 years, O’Brien is also the president of Daniel O’Connell Division No. 2 of the New Jersey Ancient Order of the Hiberians, an Irish Catholic fraternal organization founded in New York City in 1936, although its roots trace back to 1919. Today, the AOH claims 46,000 members in 45 states, Canada and Ireland. The local division was founded Sept. 28 of last year, when O’Brien was chosen to be president. In a recent interview, he spoke fondly of the organization.
“We raise money for different organizations,” O’Brien told the LocalSource on Monday, March 13. “We just started and haven’t done our first fundraiser yet. We’re in the stages of deciding who it will be for. We could pick someone in the military, a group or a person in need. We’re there to help people in their time of plight.”
Helping people is something with which O’Brien is quite familiar.
“I was also vice president of my PBA sometime ago, so I’ve always been active with philanthropic organizations and I thought it would be good to give back to the community,” he said. “Where there seems to be so many divisions in the country, it’s nice to come together with men of a similar heritage and expand on it.”
Although this local division is only in its first year, O’Brien said it already has about 45 members who meet the first Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at Cranford’s Elks Lodge, located at 951 Lincoln Ave. E.
“You have to be Irish Catholic to join,” he said, “but you don’t have to have an Irish accent.
We’re a nonprofit organization and we help people who need help. Our group that we reformed was started in 1868 and is the oldest charter in New Jersey.”
Richard S. O’Brien, the state president of the AOH, and Bill Young, organizer and past state president of the AOH, approached Timothy O’Brien, who had largely set up the local division, and named him the division’s first president.
“Establishing a Hibernian presence in Union County was a commitment to my membership when elected state president,” said Richard O’Brien in a recent press release. “I am proud to say: mission accomplished. My grandfather was a member of the Elizabeth division and it’s great to see a strong and vibrant group up and running. I will ensure newly elected/installed President Tim O’Brien receives support to ensure he and his board have resources to serve their membership and flourish.
“I want to thank Tim for working on recruitment and logistics and making sure everything was perfect. Please be sure to look for these Hibernian men at the Union St. Patrick’s Day Parade with their new member, state Sen. Joe Cryan.”
The Daniel O’Connell Division No. 2 walked in Union’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 11.
O’Brien, who also walked in the parade, said he is looking forward to the St. Patrick’s Day Ceili that Cranford Knights of Columbus Council 6226 is hosting. A ceili is a Gaelic party with eating, drinking and dancing. Tickets are $40 per person and includes corned beef and cabbage dinner, wings, beverages, music and Irish step dancers. There will be live music with the Lovehandles, a gift basket and raffles. To RSVP, call or text Ken Hickey at 917-391-8304 or to [email protected] by Monday, March 20, for reservations.
Checks made payable to Cranford Knights of Columbus can be mailed to PO Box 501, Cranford, NJ 07016 or via Venmo at KofC6226, Code 7778 or via Zelle at 201-838-7778.
“I’ve enjoyed being a Cranford police officer for the last 24 years,” O’Brien said. “It’s a great organization. For that dinner, I’m getting recognized as Police Officer of the Year.
“We should have a lot of fun. There will probably be more police officers who are going and some of them are Hibernians as well. They will be there.
“I would like to thank Chief Harry Wilde for hiring me,” O’Brien added. “It’s an honor to work with the men and women of the Cranford Police Department.”
Photo Courtesy of Timothy O’Brien