The Kildare Association of New York is a benevolent organization set up to encourage socialization and support for American immigrants originating from County Kildare, Ireland. After reaching their centennial anniversary in 1996, the Kildare Association is one of the first benevolent Irish organizations formed in this country and is still going strong today. As a result of the Great Famine, which started in 1846, millions of Irish immigrated to America’s shores. These new immigrants primarily socialized with other immigrants who originated from the same counties in Ireland. These groups eventually formed organizations and held social functions for its members.
Members of the organization representing Country Kildare decided to become an official benevolent organization at the end of the 19th century. The organization first had to decide on a symbol and banner to represent their official group. The members decided on the Round Tower as the Symbol for their organization. The Round Tower was erected in Kildare sometime in the tenth century. This symbol would later appear on all official communications of the organization. For their official banner, they agreed on a portrait depicting St. Bridget next to the Round Tower of Kildare. Born in 450 A.D., she was responsible for getting women involved in the formation of the early Church in Ireland. She founded her first convent in Cill Dara, Kildare. Many shrines in her honor are still in existence. One such shrine is St. Bridget’s Well in Country Kildare. This banner is used at all parades and hung at all official social functions.
With their official symbol and banner in place, The Kildare Association became one of the first Irish organizations to officially file as a benevolent association. They filed as an organization in New York State on September 3, 1896. Today, the Kildare Association of New York continues to be active. The organization’s annual dance, Christmas party and participation in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade all keep the Association going strong. Current President, Garret Doyle feels that although the organization is holding its own right now, new members are welcome in order to perpetuate the organization’s future. Seeing it has survived two World Wars, harsh immigration laws, and a national depression, the Kildare Association can most likely weather any new storms to come.