2004-12-24 / Columnists

Chatting with Chapey

Dr. Geraldine Chapey
Dr. Geraldine Chapey

by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader

Michael Benn Honored

Michael Benn, the President of the Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Cultural Committee, was honored recently by the Father Timothy Shanley, Division #4, New York County, Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Division #4 celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of their founding last year – in 2003. Michael Kearns, President and Raymond Conlon, Chairperson of the Division, noted that the 100th anniversary was a major milestone. They paused to remember those strong and dedicated men who started this Division.

Mike Benn, this year’s honoree, was born in Limerick City, Ireland. He is the son of Richard and Josephine Benn and brother to Paddy, Richard, Theresa, Bernie, Patricia and Lillian. Mike graduated from St. John’s Primary School and Sexton’s Street Secondary School in Limerick.

He excelled at Hurling and Football while he was in school, and emigrated to the United States in 1961. Mike graduated from Mercy College where he received his B. S. Degree in Accounting and Finance.

Mike married the lovely and beautiful Christine Kirwin Benn who also comes from Limerick. Together they have raised a wonderful family. Their six children are: Michael, Richard, William, Tara, Brendan and Patrick. Kimberly Benn has been added as a family member through marriage. Mike and Christine are justifiably proud of their family.

Benn is a true Irishman. He has a love and respect for all things Irish. This interest led to his founding a not for profit television show entitled “An Suil No Gael” – “The Eyes and Ears of the Irish”. He has successfully utilized the television medium to inform, enhance and enlighten the public about Irish history, tradition, government, theatre, music, art, education and other aspects of interest to TV audiences. Mike’s show can be seen weekly in Queens on Channel 34 on Wednesday nights at 9:30 p.m. and Tuesday afternoons at 4 p.m. In addition, his show is aired in Manhattan on Channel 34 on Monday at 3 p.m. and on Long Island Cablevision on Wednesday and Saturday evenings.  Edward Cardinal Egan, the Archbishop of New York, extended his prayerful best wishes to all at the dinner dance. Egan noted that since coming to the shores of America, the Irish community has contributed in so many ways to the betterment of our beloved nation. Egan expressed his gratitude to the A.O.H. for all that they do to make known the gifts of the Irish and Irish American communities.

Cardinal Egan felt that the dinner dance was an opportunity for family and friends to gather in celebration of Irish culture and heritage and in celebration of the life and work of Mike Benn. Eugene Hutchinson, the Consul General of Ireland, was delighted to know that Mike Benn was being honored for his sterling service to the Irish community. Hutchinson noted that Mike Benn is most deserving of this recognition from his fellow Hibernians. Mike has worked hard and with great success to promote Ireland’s rich culture and heritage including through his popular television show “An Suil Na Gael”. A proud son of Limerick, Michael has continued to support the county of his birth through a long involvement with the Limerick Association. At the same time, he continues to give back generously to his adopted homeland, including through his work as President of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee in Rockaway. The Consul General joined in saluting Michael for his many achievements and wished Mike, his family and all his friends in A. O. H. Division #4 every happiness and continued success in the year ahead.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg added his congratulations. Bloomberg noted that since its inception, A. O. H. Division #4 has proudly served the people of New York City and has worked tirelessly to preserve the rich history and vibrant culture of the Irish American community. On behalf of the residents of New York City, the Mayor commended the Division’s dedicated team for hosting the evening’s festivities in celebration of their important work and in tribute to the guest of honor. Michael Benn is a dedicated member of the Hibernians. The Mayor acknowledged Mike Benn’s efforts to improve the quality of life for Irish New Yorkers. Mayor Bloomberg continued that it is always gratifying to unite with people and organizations sharing his commitment to making a difference in their communities.

It is my pleasure to join Cardinal Egan, Consul General Hutchinson and Mayor Bloomberg in congratulating Mike Benn and his family on this great honor.

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