HONORED HIBERNIANS OF 2018

Information from Rockland AOH

This year’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshall is Emmett Woods. Woods has been a resident of Pearl River since 1995. He was born in Pomeroy County Tyrone in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1985 where he met his wife Moira while living in the Bronx. Together they have four children,  Moira Jr., Emmett Jr., Shanagh, and Seamus.

Woods comes from a large family. His siblings Mary, Kevin, Annette, and Gerard reside in Tyrone, while Sean and Noel and their families live in New York.  He began his career in construction and eventually started his own construction company in 1990. In 2004, he opened a restaurant in Poughkeepsie, NY called Emmett Mahoney’s Irish Pub & Restaurant.

Woods joined the Rockland GAA in 1996 as a player and won a few championships. In 1999, he became a coach and traveled with Rockland’s underage team to Ireland. He was also the New York Feile coach when they won Feile. In 1999, Woods joined together with 23 other families to help secure the funds to purchase the Rockland GAA fields. They have since completed a major renovation of these fields as well as of the clubhouse located at the fields. Woods is currently the development officer for the New York GAA.

He joined AOH Division Five as well as the Rockland Irish American Cultural Center in Blauvelt, at the same time that he joined the Rockland GAA, eventually becoming a booster member of Hibernian House.  Woods is also a member of the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick, Rockland Chapter. Over the past 22 plus years, he has been involved in numerous benefits to help friends in need and has frequently assisted in organizing events in the Irish community. Woods also ran a golf outing every year for Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

As a member of Division 5, Woods held the office of Vice-President, was honored as the Rockland County Aide to the Grand Marshal of the New York City Parade in 2004, and was recognized by the Rockland County AOH as their Businessman of the Year in 2013.

In addition he is also a member of Clan Na Gael, which he joined in 1986, shortly after coming over from Ireland. Woods would like everyone to remember the fallen volunteers and all volunteers who have served jail time over the last 100 years fighting for a free and united Ireland. It is his hope that the mission of a United Ireland will be accomplished in his lifetime.

The Parade Commander this year is Francis T. Duffy. Francis Thomas Duffy was born on August 16, 1923, to Frank and Katie Duffy, one of six children raised in New York City. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on August 4, 1942, attended recruit training at Parris Island, S.C., and received follow-on infantry training at New River and Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Duffy sailed with the 2/25 from Norfolk via the Panama Canal bound for San Diego to undergo training for the Pacific campaigns at a small tent camp at Las Pulgas Canyon on the northern fringe of Camp Pendleton, CA. He sailed with the 4th Marine Division for the Marshall Islands on January 13, 1944. This was the only Marine Corp division to sail directly into combat from the United States.

Duffy participated in the landings at Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima. At Iwo Jima, Frank was serving as a Runner for the Commanding Officer of the Second Battalion, Twenty-fifth Marines, Fourth Marine Division when a group of the enemy attacked the observation post personnel with hand grenades from a concealed position. Private First Class Duffy unhesitatingly advanced alone and despite being wounded by grenade fire, killed two Japanese soldiers. He was awarded the Silver Star for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” for his actions and would spend a year in various naval hospitals recovering from the wounds he sustained until he was finally discharged on February 13, 1946.

After the war, Duffy was employed by the U.S. Postal Service and retired in June 1979. He and his wife, Bridie moved to Pearl River, N.Y. in January 1969 where they raised their six children. The Duffys have ten grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. They are also members of St. Margaret’s Church in Pearl River.

Duffy has been a member of the American Legion Post 329 in Pearl River since 1981 and is a member of John Cardinal D’Alton AOH – Division III in Pearl River, receiving his major degree in 1977.

The 2018 Hibernian of the Year honoree is William Young. Young was born in the Manhattan to John and Mary Jo Young (née Brett) in 1965. His father is a retired New York City Police officer and his mother is now retired from the Town of Orangetown town Clerk’s Office. His parents moved the family from the Bronx to Pearl River in 1977, where Young and his three siblings, Nora, John and Mary Kate, attended Pearl River High School. He graduated from Pearl River HS in 1983.

Young attended Manhattan College where he received his Bachelors of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering in 1989 and his MBA in 1993. After graduating from Manhattan College, Bill joined PSE&G, a New Jersey-based utility, where he has held various engineering and management positions. He has been with PSE&G for twenty-nine years and is currently the Manager of Fuel Supply for PSE&G Power in Newark, NJ.

While at Manhattan College, Young met his wife, Lois FitzPatrick, who is from Manhasset, NY and a graduate of the College of Mount St. Vincent in Riverdale, NY. They recently celebrated their twenty-sixth wedding anniversary in November and reside in Nanuet with their three daughters: Kerry – a Marist College graduate and a kindergarten teacher at the Good Shepherd School in Inwood, Megan – a graduate of Boston College and currently in the doctorate of physical therapy program at Northeastern University, and Kiera – a junior at Siena College studying psychology. His daughters have all danced for the Inishfree School of Irish Dance out of the AOH, performing in many shows for Division III. They have competed at the Open Championship level nationally and internationally in Ireland, England, and Scotland.

Young has been a member of AOH Division III in Pearl River since 2004 and has been the divisions Financial Secretary for the last ten years. He became vice president of the Rockland County AOH in June 2017. He has been a member of the Town of Orangetown Planning Board twelve years and is a past board member of the Nanuet Black & Gold sports club. He has served on the scholarship committees of both the AOH and Nanuet Black & Gold club and is actively involved in their community sponsored events.

The 2018 Hibernian Business Person of the Year is Neill Acer. Acer was born in the Bronx to Gerard and Eleanor Acer in 1971. His maternal grandparents journeyed to the United States from Ireland (Roscommon and Leitrim) in the 1920s. Mike Ward and Annie O’Neill chose to call New York their home.

When Acer’s parents met and subsequently married, they, too, chose to stay in New York. His father, Gerry, was a retired New York City banker. His mother, Eleanor, is a retired New York City teacher. Eleanor worked in the classroom with children for over 45 years. Neill and his two older siblings, Eleanor Annie and Gerard Michael, were all born and raised in New York.

Acer graduated from University of Rochester in 1994 where he double-majored in English and Psychology. While at U of R, he picked up a new hobby– home brewing – never realizing he was beginning his journey to The Defiant Brewing Company. In addition to being a graduate of the University of Rochester, Acer received formal brewing training at the Siebel Institute of Technology and World Brewing Academy in Chicago, IL.

Acer met and married his wife, Amy Acer with whom he has two beautiful children: Neill Connor (12) and Abigail Eleanor (7). To introduce his children to the Emerald Isle and all of the extended family, in 2011, Acer took his entire family to Ireland. Together, they explored the countryside, spending time with relatives and extended family, visiting old homesteads including the family bog, as well as sites rich in history for all Irishmen.

When it came time to open his own brewery, Acer knew it could only be in Pearl River, NY. As owner and brewmaster, he brings over twenty years of professional brewing experience to The Defiant Brewing Company. From the start, Acer’s career has focused on bringing high quality, unique, some might even say defiant, craft-brewed beer to patrons in and around the lower Hudson Valley. Acer’s creativity and love for his craft help him win the praise of discerning beer drinkers, critics, and certified judges worldwide. Defiant ales and lagers can be found locally as well as throughout New York State and New Jersey. Acer has grown Defiant from a one-man operation to a company of over 20 employees in a little over 12 years. Acer and his beers have won numerous awards, including two International gold medals in the World Beer Cup. He is also a renowned international beer judge and has traveled to Canada and Brazil in recent years to judge competitions.

Acer has been a member of AOH Division III in Pearl River since 2006 and has been privileged to be an Aide to the Grand Marshal. His paternal grandfather was also an Aide to the Grand Marshal in New York City during the 1930s. Acer is a member of the Pearl River Rotary and the Pearl River Chamber of Commerce.

This year’s Rockland County Aid to the Grand Marshall of the New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is Jim Russell. A native of Woodbury, N.Y. and a graduate of St. Dominic High School in Oyster Bay, N.Y., Russell earned his Bachelor of Science Degree from STAC in 1999.  He received his Master’s Degree in Social Studies Education from NYU in 2003.  Additionally, he received his Master of Science in Education (Educational Leadership) from St. Thomas Aquinas College in 2016.  Russell’s father is a native of Dublin, Ireland (Clonliffe) and his paternal grandparents were from Dublin and Kildare (Maynooth).

In 2001, he began his teaching career in the NYC Board of Education at M.S. 80 in the Norwood section of the Bronx.  In 2006, Russell left M.S. 80 and began teaching at Clarkstown South High School in West Nyack, N.Y. where he currently teaches in the Social Studies Department.  In addition, he has served as Parish Youth Minister at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in West Nyack, N.Y. where he will be celebrating his 20th anniversary in Youth Ministry this year.

Russell joined Division 1, North Rockland in 1999 and immediately became involved in the division. He has served as Secretary, Vice President and President of the Division.  On the county level, Russell has served as Scholarship Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President, President (2013-2017) and currently is Immediate Past County President.  He also served as Co-Chair for the first two halfway to Rockland County’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade fundraisers for two years that raised in excess of $20,000.

Russell was involved in the Rockland Feis as the Mass Chairperson. He was also Mass chairperson for the extremely successful 2011 NYS AOH State Convention that was held in Pearl River.  On the state level, Russell is chairperson of the New York State Scholarship Committee. He has also been a member of the committee that coordinated the national dinners’ for Past National President, Brendan Moore.

Russell is also a Sparkill Dominican Associate. According to Russell, “As I have grown in my commitment to the Sparkill congregation, I have found that the warmth the sisters have is contagious.  I always think back to a statement one of the sisters made, where one Sparkill Dominican is, there is the congregation.  I am so very lucky to be walking this path of life with women who are making a difference.”

Russell’s paternal grandmother’s uncle was involved in the uprising in 1916.  He and his wife Tricia were married on August 29, 2009 and have a five year old daughter, Annie who is the light of their lives.

Bios edited from information provided to the public on the Rockland AOH’s website:  http://www.rocklandcountyaoh.com. Photos from Rockland AOH.