The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

March 17, 2014

Been there, done that

‘Irishman of Year’ Moore a frequent visitor to Ireland

MERCER COUNTY — Robert W. “Bob” Moore lives happily in Jamestown with his wife Carol but he also has roots in another village about the same size – in Ireland.

It’s a long way from Scipio Street, Jamestown, to Shammagery (sham-OCK-ery) Road, Pomeroy, Northern Ireland, but it is a journey the retired teacher, coach and administrator has undertaken 43 times.

On his next visit he can tell his County Tyrone kin he has polished his ethnic luster by being named “Irishman of the Year” by the Ancient Order of Hibernians’ Sons of Erin Division No. 1 of Mercer County.

The order is the oldest and largest Irish Catholic organization in the United States. Moore has been secretary of the local division since 2000.

Established in 1836, it was needed to protect priests and churches from attack and sometimes murder, said Ted Miller, singer with the Irish band County Mayo who helped to found the local division about 15 years ago.

Moore said it would have been one of the sources of support for Irish women like his grandmother, Mary McGoldrick. She emigrated in 1881, traveling to an America that then -- and now -- could be suspicious and hostile to immigrants.

“My grandmother was only 16 and it took six weeks for her to make the voyage by boat and train to Pittsburgh,” Moore said. “Her sister had written that she could get a job as a domestic and that’s what she did. She wrote letters home, of course, but she never saw Ireland again.”

These days, the group’s activities are more social, charitable and civic like other fraternal organizations.

Moore exemplifies the character and commitment to the Hibernians as well as to his community, said John E. “Ed” Calior, an attorney and fellow member. He  said Moore is well deserving of the recognition – and affectionate teasing – heaped on him during the annual dinner held Wednesday in Hermitage.

He was a teacher in Jamestown and Hermitage schools. He coached wrestling and track, taught driver’s training and was an administrator. He was a high school and college wrestling official.

He is a member and past officer of a host of local service clubs, church and community organizations and municipal boards.

“He’s always there to help with whatever our club gets involved with,” Calior said. “He’s very active not only with us but with the Jamestown Lion’s Club and other community organizations. He’s always there to pitch in.”

Miller says Moore is a  storyteller with a good sense of humor so he laughed while accepting the honorary (and fictitious) Doctor of Scientific Wrestling degree conferred by the nonexistent Wrestling Academy of Northern Ireland, Belfast, County Antrim.

“It’s signed by Martin Rand, the tallest wrestler from Ireland several generations ago,” Miller said. “It’s also signed by J.R.R. Tolkien who isn’t Irish but I happened to have a copy of his signature in my stuff and everybody knows who he is.”

Moore’s first trip to Ireland was before the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 that opened the way to ending sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.

He said he wasn’t prepared for the treatment he and his Irish relatives received when they were stopped at a checkpoint for questioning by gruff, unfriendly British soldiers and security police.

“I knew about ‘the troubles’ but I had never actually seen it,” Moore said. “With a daughter in the Navy and a son in the Marines, I had been around soldiers but I was shocked to see our car surrounded by soldiers pointing M-16s at us.”

Later, at his family’s ancestral home, Moore said he was taken aback – but pleasantly – by his greeting from Peter McGoldrick, the oldest member of his clan who was waiting to meet him.

“When I walked in, he said, ‘Welcome home,’ ” Moore said. “I hadn’t really thought of my trip in that way but it was true. My roots come from there.”

His own father had never managed to return to the homeland. He was planning a trip but suffered a heart attack and died.

Moore said two of his four children have made the journey with him and he hopes he can help to introduce other family members from the United States to their relatives in Ireland.

“I was treated like royalty because I had come back,” he said. “I’m trying to carry that on with my family. Many of my Irish relatives also moved away but many are living near Pomeroy. When I go over, it takes three or four weeks to visit because there are so many of them.”

 

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