By Yadira Betances
---- — LAWRENCE — For Irish Heritage month, the Rev. James T. O’Reilly, Ancient Order of Hibernian will honor men and women who have served in the city’s Fire Department.
The exhibit appropriately named “To Protect Lives, to Conserve Property” features 10 panels and is on display at Lawrence Heritage State Park, 1 Jackson St.
While there has been many firefighters and chiefs of Irish descent, the exhibit looks at the overall history of the Lawrence Fire Department and how it has progressed over the years, said Hibernian president Bill Sullivan.
”We wanted to do something civic-minded this year,” Sullivan said. “This is a multi-cultural group of people who go out every day and put their lives on the line.”
Sullivan said Hibernian member Frank Ford of Methuen came up with the idea for the exhibit. Ford’s father, Frank Ford Sr., was the Lawrence Fire Chief from 1960-1968.
Louise Sandberg, archivist at Lawrence Public Library, put the exhibit together with items donated by Joe Bella, Jack Lahey, Jim Driscoll, Lawrence History Center and Lawrence Public Library. James Regan, who has been collecting Lawrence firefighting memorabilia for years, also contributed items.
”My aim was to document, to tell the story of an institution,” Sandberg said. But she said she fell short of her goal.
”I couldn’t get more information and I’d like to know stories about fire,” Sandberg said.
The panels feature items from as early as 1850 as well as images from Pemberton Mill disaster.
In addition to the exhibit, Irish heritage month includes music, corned beef and cabbage dinner, films and speakers.
On Saturday, Francis J. O’Connor Jr. will be named Irish man of the year, the highest award bestowed by the Hibernians. St. Patrick’s day Banquet and dance 6 to 11 p.m., at Lawrence Firefighters Association Relief’s In, 1 Market St. Lawrence.
”We chose Frank because of his hard work and dedication in the community and the Hibernians,” Sullivan said.
O’Connor has been a member of the Hibernians for 15 years and is presently division historian. He is active at St. Patrick Parish where he is commissioner of the parish’s junior high basketball program. O’Connor, who works in the Community Development Department of the City of Lawrence, leads the chess club for the Lawrence Public Schools and Lawrence Public Library.
Also at the dinner, the Rev. John Delaney, pastor of Sacred Hearts Parish in Bradford will receive the Richard, Cardinal Cushing Award.
“When we were talking about who should receive it, his name was at the top of the list,” Sullivan said. Delaney emulates Cushing for his outreach in the community and being a beloved by the people there.
Delaney is chaplain to the North Andover Police and Fire departments and for the St. Claire League of Catholic Woman. He is also on the board of directors for the Trauma Intervention Program.
The popular St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon with traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner takes place March 15 at the Relief’s In, 1 Market St. Brother Rene Roy of Central Catholic receives the John E. Fenton Citizenship Award.
“Brother Rene is someone who has done an outstanding community service,” Sullivan said. “Over the years, he has been teaching the future at Central while being out in the community.”
A member of the Marist religious order, Bro. Rene has served as a teacher, vocation director, administrator and pastoral assistant in West Virginia, New York, South Dakota, Illinois and Rwanda. He has been at Central Catholic since 2005. Roy is active with the Lawrence Kiwanis Club and the Knights of Columbus of St. Monica Parish, Methuen.
Throughout the month, there will be a showcase of Irish books, CDs and DVDs available Monday, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Lawrence Public Library South Lawrence branch, 135 Parker St. Lorica Artwork, 96 Main St., Andover is hosting an Irish art exhibit through March 31.
Here’s a list of other events:
Sunday, Author Michael Patrick MacDonald discusses his book, “All Souls” at 2 p.m., at Lawrence Heritage State Park, 1 Jackson St.; Also Family day, featuring Irish music, pipers and dancers, 3 to 6 p.m. at The Claddagh Pub and Restaurant, 399 Canal St.
March 15, An evening of Irish music beginning at 3 p.m. at The Claddagh Pub and Restaurant, 399 Canal St.
March 16, Irish film festival at 10 a.m., Lawrence Heritage State Park, 1 Jackson St.; St. Patrick’s Day open house with music all day at The Claddagh, 399 Canal St.
March 23, Author Paula de Fougerolles speaks on her books, “Prophet” and “Chronicles of Iona” at 2 p.m. Lawrence Heritage State Park, 1 Jackson St.
March 24, Ireland in Song, Celtic melodies for voice and piano performed by Terri and George Kelley as a tribute to the late fiddle virtuoso Larry Reynolds, 2 p.m. at Lawrence Public Library, 51 Lawrence St.