• The History Project

    The History Project was the vision of Steve and Kathy Kratftmiller and has since acquired a handful of dedicated members who feel strongly about documenting the trials and tribulations of our founding members. In addition to conducting interviews of the founding members of the club, the History Project plans to interview members of the club who are either first generation Irish or whose ancestors came from Ireland and settled in the Milford Area. The History Project is always looking for additional members who have a passion for family and Irish history. To join the History Project or add your family’s story, contact the Irish History Project Co-chairs at ihsmhistoryproject@gmail.com.

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    Click on the link above to listen to the audio presentation:

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  • After ten years of tireless effort and commitment, the Irish Heritage Society of Milford celebrated the opening of its very own clubhouse.

    On May 22, 2016, the formal dedication ceremony was held. It opened with a procession lead by bagpipers, followed by the national anthems of Ireland and the United States, sung by members Dave Conroy and Mike McCabe, respectively.

    Participants in the ceremony were IHSM President Ed Mead, Master of Ceremonies Mike McCabe, Milford Mayor Ben Blake, club co-founders Marty Hardiman and Chris McEnerney, poet Lisa Taylor, and honored guest, Irish Consul General Barbara Jones.

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  • Interview of Ed Mead

  • Ed Mead, Past President, Vice President, Sargeant at Arms, and Charter Member of IHSM
    Tuesday, September 20, 2017

    Main Interviewer: Sheila Danehy. Others present: Bernard Keilty, Nancy Smith, Maureen Richetelli, Sheila Johnson, and Amy Lacey

    Interviewer: How and why did you first join the Irish Heritage Society?

    Ed Mead: I didn’t hear about the first meeting, but when the Irish Heritage Society got involved with the Oyster Festival, my father-in-law had joined, and some other people I knew like Marty from the parade, so I joined at the Oyster Festival, and I was interested to see how the club would evolve, and to find out if you could research heritage and then carry on music and the cultural parts of the club.

    Interviewer: What are some of your early memories of the club experience?

    Ed Mead: We marched in a lot of parades in the beginning: Milford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Mystic. We went to Yonkers, where Maureen Richetelli was from. Her grandfather was the mayor there, and there’s a park in their name called Coyne Park. I remember that was a very nice bus trip. Some of the early things were a little rough.

    Interviewer: What was your personal, first leadership role in the club?

    Ed Mead: After I joined, I was already on the Milford Zoning Board of Appeals, and so I had a good idea of what was going on in the city in different buildings, so we started a building committee back then, trying to look for a place, for a clubhouse, and we scoured all over Milford for years and years and years trying to find a place to rent, to buy, to build, to renovate. And there was just nothing out there that we could really afford, that would fit our needs at that time, so that was my first involvement.

    Interviewer: The first Milford Irish festival was held nearly five months after the club was founded. What are your recollections of this event.

    Ed Mead: After I joined at the Oyster Festival, I talked to Marty Hardiman and I got on a committee. I was on the beer committee, and I worked that day for the first time. Then planning the first Festival from August to September. It went very well, and we were well received in the city, and then we just grew from there every year.

    Interviewer: The club continued to grow, obviously we’ve grown exponentially. What are your feelings about that and about our future?

    Ed Mead: I know that the membership has grown to now up to twelve hundred people but the amount of people that do the work and volunteer and help run the club and everything is only a minimal model of what the whole membership is…like ten percent, if that, or maybe fifteen percent, and that’s just disheartening. You know, some people just come here for the bar and not for the cultural aspects and not to help out and, you know, after doing all the work that I’ve done in the past, it just seems that more people should be stepping up to help in the club and make it grow from there and have different people doing it; more leadership roles to take over other jobs.

    Interviewer: It seems you were tremendously involved with choosing this location for our clubhouse at 131 Bridgeport Avenue, Milford, Connecticut, and you were instrumental in getting the remodeling done. Can you tell us about that?

    Ed Mead: Yes. We had been looking for a clubhouse. We were going to rent the little yacht club’s clubhouse down here by the Devon Bridge, and we had talked and we were going to rent it, but in the meantime, this building that we’re in now had been on the market before, and the owner was trying to sell it on his own. We had looked at it or somebody had looked at it like a year or two before we ended up purchasing it, but the price was too high, and we didn’t have a lot of money, or enough money in the bank account then. But then the same Sunday we looked at the Yacht Club building, we came here afterwards. I wasn’t there for the first meeting, but we met with the owner, and we ended up paying a price that was really, we thought, low, so most of us wanted to jump on it, because it was the building and the house behind it. We bought it for like four hundred fifty thousand dollars and he originally wanted like five hundred fifty thousand, I think. And we were going to pay three thousand dollars a month rent at the other place, and this is ownership that we’d have; we’re building equity, becoming more sound in the community and helping revitalize Devon. We cleaned up this whole building and got a lot of riff raff out of the area which the police department is happy about and we have a good rental income, and fixed our house up nice, and it fits in well with the neighborhood now. And we’re moving forward with other projects after that.

    Interviewer: Who are some of the people that were helpful during that construction phase of things?

    Ed Mead: Well after we bought the building and we started looking further, it was in worse shape than we thought, so we took out the whole bar area, the whole big heating system, and we tore off floors and we moved walls. We put new walls up. We put in the bathrooms and raised the ceiling. Now there’s three ladies’ restrooms where before there was only one that even I wouldn’t have gone in. The men’s room was terrible, and we now have a way to get down into the basement with a safer set of stairs before there were just little holes in the floor with a little hatchway. So, we have a new heating and air conditioning system; we have new lighting; we have a lot of new electrical. Brian Murphy was one of the big helpers on that. He put down a lot of the hardwood flooring and did a lot of the tiling. Declan Conway built the bar area from scratch. Kevin Fox and Bill Park were our electricians, and John Torgersen was instrumental in helping out. Peter Purcell did painting and Tony Yarowitz did a lot of painting. I mean, those were the main core people who did a lot of the grunt work, the heavy lifting, and who were instrumental to get things up and going.

    Interviewer: And about how long did this project take you after purchasing the property to when you were sort of “ready to roll?” I understand it was very tight getting that C.O. in time for an event after like fifteen minutes?

    Ed Mead: Yes. That’s true. How long did the whole process take? When we bought it, we closed on July 31st, 2014 and we opened the bar for them (The Milford Chamber of Commerce meeting) I think mid-2015. Yes, you’re right. We did the house first. The reason we did the house first was because there was so much work to do in here, so we started to concentrate on the house by the first of September to get it up and rented by the first of January. We’ve had that rented ever since the first year and one of the original renters is still there.

    And then we had trouble but different issues with the fire department because the downstairs ceiling height is not the right height. So, we had to set up special doors. We found stuff on Craigslist, and we made our own, and then the fire department came back and re-inspected two or three times. There was an old alarm system in the building that we had to get disconnected and get re-inspected that Tuesday, and we had a Chamber of Commerce event Wednesday at five o’clock, and then got the C.O. at like two o’clock in the afternoon that day.

    Interviewer: Nick of time! Has being a member enhanced your interest in Irish culture, Irish history, and your own heritage?

    Ed Mead: Yes, You see, I was the only one really on my side of the family that did any type of research even before I joined the club, but after they started the genealogy group here, I came a few Saturdays, and I talked to Sheila Johnson and Kathy Kraftmiller and I got to a point where I couldn’t go any further. I knew my relatives were from upper New York State, so Kathy did some research for me and found out what church my grandparents attended and what cemetery they had been buried in. Last year, I went up there and found their graves and tombstones and thanks to Kathy the exact dates that I had written down were the exact dates there, so I found more people there. Some more of their children were there, too. It was good, and so I still have to do more work, but I’ll have to go back to Ireland, because I still haven’t found their home. I got Cork on the death certificate, but I want to know exactly where they were from.

    Interviewer: Why do you think the Irish heritage culture needs to be preserved here and out in the community?

    Ed Mead: Our culture should be preserved. What we’re doing here and in the community needs to be preserved, because we have to prove to people that we are more than just marching in a parade and having a bar. The festival shows that, but still there’s some areas that we can really expand on like the culture area could be better and having guest speakers here helps it to grow, more than just say, you know, the bands coming in here, and trivia night, and I know that brings the members in, but I remember one of the things that Maureen Moore put on when I was President. We had a lady doing a poetry reading at Lauralton Hall. Well, I wasn’t really into poetry, but you know I was present then. I helped set up the speakers and everything, and it was good, and I mean the setting was at the school and everything was really made interesting and that helps out a lot. Some have gone to the Irish Tenements in New York City and The Irish Hunger Museum in Hamden. I’ve been down in New York City a few times to the Irish Consulate Office. They had gotten statues from Quinnipiac’s Irish Hunger Museum, too, which used to be part of the college before they built a building. So the statures were on display down there, so we used to go down there once a year, to the Irish Consulate Office in New York City.

    Interviewer: You just mentioned having been President. Can you just give us a rundown of your positions here?

    Ed Mead: Yes, after the first set of officers started the club, then they had a general election. I ran for Vice President, Chris McEnerney ran again for President, and he won. I won the Vice Presidency, so we stayed on for two years for that, and then after that I ran for President. I was there for two years, then past President for two years, then I ran and won Sergeant at Arms. I was that for two years, then back to President for two more years, then past President for two years, and now I’m retired from all that.

    Interviewer: But you’re not going anywhere! Finally, if you had to pick one thing that makes you glad you joined the club, what would that be?

    Ed Mead: I think, for me, it’s about the 1200 new members we have or in the new friendships of people that I never knew before in the city, and from people that are from twenty years old to eighty-eight years old. I mean, it’s good to know people in the club and listen to their stories and become good friends with them and everything. Some of the people I’ve known from other parts of Milford are in politics and you get closer to them. One of them I will always remember is Maureen Richetelli and her husband. Her husband has passed now, but he was my driving instructor at Milford Driving School when I was sixteen years old. So, some of these connections go way back like I knew Maureen’s son Jimmy Richetelli when he was mayor, because I’ve been involved in politics so long. I think everything comes around and you get to have new friendships and meet new people.

    Interviewer: Thanks very much, Ed!

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  • Interview of Dan Sullivan

    Dan Sullivan, First Sergeant at Arms and Charter Member of IHSM
    May 16, 2017
    Main interviewer: Sheila Denehy. Others present are Steve Kraftmiller, Nancy Smith, Maureen Richetelli, Sheila Johnson and Bernard Keilty.

    Interviewer: Dan, how and why did you become involved in the Irish Heritage Society of Milford?

    Dan Sullivan: We had gone to the Fairfield club to see a band or something and have dinner…we were doing dancing there too as well as other things, and on the way Danelle had said, "You know, it’s getting too far. We should start something in Milford.” And just that weekend, I was reading the paper and I said, “Look! There’s two other nuts like you, and they want to have a meeting to start an Irish club!” They were meeting at the nursing home, there, on West River. So we showed up at that meeting.

    Interviewer: Sounds good. OK, what was the biggest challenge in getting the club started?

    Dan Sullivan: ByLaws and the goals. You know, everybody had different ideas. There was one gentleman, I remember, you know, who felt everybody had to be Irish; there were procedures on how we were going to do it, and, you know, just the whole thing about setting up ByLaws was the main thing at first, because that’s how you got your officers and things like that. So, we had worked mainly on that. There had been this gentleman that was very important, Seth, who was an attorney and he helped us a lot. We had met in his office (aside to Danelle…what was his name? Cohen) yes, Cohen…and, yeah, he had helped out a lot, and he wrote up the By Laws and gave us ideas and gave us a lot of input.

    Interviewer: Okay. What has been your personal experience and involvement in the club?

    Dan Sullivan: Well, we did the first fundraiser when they had decided to do an Irish Festival. We had done a breakfast at the VFW in Milford. We cooked egg sandwiches and gave away tee shirts for everybody to wear that showed the date of our Irish Festival. It was Father’s Day, because that’s when the Fairfield club held their festival, so we had everybody come for breakfast and wear their shirts to the festival there. Also, I did the Oyster Festival which we did the first year. That was our first real money-maker which financed the Irish Club here. (aside from Danelle: Who’d you do that with?) Oh, yeah, Tori Spillings was very, I think, very important to the club. It was her idea to do the Oyster Fest which was our first fundraiser and then when the club, to me, was kind of petering out a little bit, or having issues, she came up with the idea of the Happy Hours and that kind of kept things going because we had become kind of stagnant for a little while, it seemed like. I have a lot of good memories such as the parades, going to the Irish Village — that was like something! I still talk about those events. We met a lot of people in town. You know we weren’t from Milford and Ed Mead, Kathleen, Nancy, and Steve Kraftmiller and actually everybody was there. I had great experiences with those people. You know, we’d go to the music and Bernie’s there and it was nice. The people we’ve met, the parades, going to different places, Mystic, going across that bridge and stuff, New York, Yonkers. We met the Counselor General of Boston from Ireland. It was really interesting going to that club up there and hearing what those clubs did because really what those clubs were about was helping out the people coming from Ireland. That’s really what these were about and that’s kind of important to me. I was always, like, not really for the bar. It was not my goal. I kind of was more into helping the people coming from Ireland with the club. Not that it’s wrong; I say all the time I’m amazed at what they’ve done. My parents and everybody I know enjoys all the functions that they have here. They really do a lot. We’re really lucky. We really are fortunate with the group of people that they’ve put together that really get involved. And it’s hard. You get politics, and people do have different goals and ideas. But, no, it’s been very functional. It blew my mind every time I was going to meetings: all the amount of people that would show up because when we went to those things in Boston they were paying people to come to their meetings! They were doing raffles just to get people to come to their meetings. So, we really should be proud of what they’ve done here.

    Interviewer: OK. We’ve just had our 10th anniversary. Can you talk about or do you have anything to say about the growth over these last ten years? I know you’ve covered some of that. Any early memories of the club?

    Dan Sullivan: Again, yeah, the parades, and like I said, when we first started the club the meetings were at some of the bars, but they were also at people’s homes and again the association with those people, you know, going to homes, we really developed a lot of friendships. We did some cool things, movies at people’s houses in their backyard, that’s kind of what I really enjoyed about the club. That kind of stuff. We did a lot of neat things. They really did a lot…nice social (events), not expensive things to do.

    Interviewer: Sounds like a good time!

    Dan Sullivan: It was, it really was.

    Interviewer: One thing I was thinking was do you want to expound on what you did for the first job you had?

    Dan Sullivan: Yes, I was the first Sergeant at Arms. That was when they sicced my wife on me. It was, I don’t know, maybe their third or fourth meeting, once they had put a board together, and they asked Danelle, “Is he going to come to the meetings or is he not?” So, she asked me that night. They couldn’t ask me themselves (laughter). And so then I started going to the meetings and then, like I said, we had them at Marty’s back porch…and I forget the other one’s name there…and Mike’s house, too. And Bill MacNamara. And for the first Oyster Festival we did, I had all the volunteers come over my house. We had a picnic that night and discussed people’s ideas and how we were going to manage the volunteers. We had no idea. I remember turning around to Mike and saying I’d be so happy if we make $50 bucks! (laughter) It was a big investment! We had nothing. We had 300+ dollars that we had made at the VFW, and the same thing, the first Irish Festival. I think they put it on for like $10,000. That was kind of a cool thing too: what we were able to accomplish with nothing. And, you know, we have this club, ten years later. And, like I said, it was started with nothing. It was just two nuts’ ideas. Then we got that nursing home. We did that maybe three or four times. And then we started moving around to the bars, and then we started going to homes. Once we had a board we started meeting at the homes, because it was too big. We had maybe about 30 people in the beginning, right? (Aside: Seems like they outgrew this too). Yes!

    Interviewer: Do you have any ideas now, where you would like to see the club go?

    Dan Sullivan: No, like I said, I think they’ve done an amazing job. I mean, I like exactly what they’ve been doing. I know my brother enjoys coming to the trivia night, and Danelle’s sister and my parents talk about it all the time. I just hope they stay with what they’re doing. Keep up with the parades and things; those were fun. And now I see they plan trips. We don’t come down that often right now, so I really don’t think it’s right to say. Like I said, I’ve been here a couple nights, and like I said, it’s amazing. And when people ask me, I say it’s really something, what everybody has done in such a short time. I remember the Fairfield Club up above the stores, and that was a long time to get to where they are. And these people have done it in ten years. It’s a nice thing to work together like that. That’s hard.

    Interviewer: Does anyone else have a question? Okay, Dan, thanks so much!

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  • Interview of Danelle Sullivan

    Danelle Sullivan, First Membership Chair and Charter Member of IHSM
    May 16, 2017
    Main interviewer: Sheila Denehy. Others present are Steve Kraftmiller, Nancy Smith, Maureen Richetelli, Sheila Johnson and Bernard Keilty.

    Interviewer: We are here with Danelle Sullivan, and she’s going to talk about her experiences with the club, and especially about her experience as the first membership chair and any other thoughts she has on the club.

    Danelle Sullivan: OK, to expand on Dan’s recollection, we met at the West River Nursing Home where Chris McEnerney worked and he and Marty Hardiman had hosted the meeting there. I’d say there were about 75 people there that night, and they had asked people to sign sheets about themselves and different things that they would like to enjoy with the club, and anything that they could add for the club. I signed up for the bylaws committee, and we started with that. It was the first committee to meet, and we had a lot of fun along with some tedious work with the bylaws, because it was new and we certainly borrowed from the Internet to put some rudimentary bylaws together, and then we started the board. I was the first membership chair, and initially we had about one hundred members. I think with that first amount of people at the nursing home, our first meeting, and then we had several meetings as Dan said at different local bars. And at West River, I think we met there a couple of times. We had about 100 members. We had our first fundraiser with the Oyster Fest not to take Dan’s little fundraiser with the tailgate to the Fairfield Club away from him. The big one was the Oyster Festival. We made quite a bit of money that year like $15,000 (Dan – probably about $7,0000) oh, yes, because it was two right in a row.

    Interviewer: In today’s dollars (laughter)

    Danelle Sullivan: Yeah, in today’s dollars! We borrowed money from Marty’s parade committee to get that started. I think we had to raise five hundred dollars, which was a lot for us; it is a lot of money. It was a big investment and we had to serve food and green beer.

    Dan Sullivan: Yeah, learn how to serve the food and beer! The green beer was the deal…everybody there was lined up forever, and we were the Irish club, so they had to buy beer from us. We killed it. We sold like 15 kegs of beer. (laughter)

    Danelle Sullivan: We also got a lot of members that day. I think that Ed Mead, I remember Ed Mead and Debbie coming up and they signed up. I even think the mayor, Ben Blake, the current mayor, he signed up the following year, he and his wife. Yeah, he had signed up that year. I don’t think he renewed his membership, but he did sign up that second year in 2007.

    Dan Sullivan: This is from your membership experience (shows some papers).

    Danelle Sullivan: Oh, there you go, he’s got a couple lists there some of the first lists.

    Dan Sullivan: So, tell them how you did it. You had a membership at the festival, and you were greeting all the people at the festival. You always set up a table at every meeting.

    Danelle Sullivan: Yes, we got to meet some very nice people. Yeah. and then we started our own festival. We didn’t get into that yet. And that was the same thing, first year. Who knew we were going to be able to do that from the Oyster Festival, you know, we had to put some money together to have a festival. Very gutsy people, you know? And, I don’t think, I did the tea room for the first year. I wasn’t there for that one. I had to go away for work, so the second year we had the festival, I had a membership table, and then I think the third year is when I had the tea room.

    Interviewer: Did you have the membership table with the tea room together?
    Danelle Sullivan: No, they were two separate things. It was the third year. Were they together?

    Dan Sullivan: You had them together the second year. The first year everybody was a charter member, so you started it that second year.

    Interviewer: So, the initial charter members were about one hundred, you’re thinking?

    Danelle Sullivan: It could be a little bit more than a hundred. That first festival when I came back from being away there were a whole lot of applications. I had a book that was this big. I gave that to Priscilla and that is the original applications in that one binder of all the charter members are in that one binder that I gave it to Priscilla. I gave her a very nice tote and that’s in there.

    Dan Sullivan: (showed some documents). These are from 2006. They’re originals. These were the lists from my files.

    Danelle Sullivan: Yeah, I know I gave Priscilla all of that. I made sure that they’re here already, so they have all that. I gave Priscilla all those things.

    Interviewer: Ok. Anybody else have a question?

    Maureen Richetelli: Everybody worked so hard.

    Dan Sullivan: You don’t know my computer was buzzing …I sat there at night typing all these lists.

    Danelle Sullivan: I know, I had my kids involved. Like I said when I came back it was a little overwhelming from the festival, and they had all these applications and they had money over here, and money over there.

    Dan Sullivan: …but again that’s what made it work, because like she said, she was very worried. So, she would make sure people got cards, because it made them feel if you forgot them already you’re slacking off in the beginning of the Club, and so she took it seriously, and she wanted to make sure people got the cards, or you got a phone call, or, you know, she was always making sure everybody was happy. She made a lot of phone calls just to keep everybody in the loop, because it was hard at first.

    Danelle Sullivan: And there wasn’t very much email, because email was new and not everybody had email.

    Dan Sullivan: People didn’t really know anybody, so she was like the person who tied everyone together. She would introduce other people to other people, because it’s hard when you are first meeting people. So, to make them feel comfortable, she would walk them over to somebody she knew. Sometimes, she’d walk them over to introduce them to me, because I’d be talking to somebody else, and then they’d start talking and so on, and then you felt, you know, once you met people here, you know for whatever reason, once you felt comfortable like that you’d start talking.

    Danelle Sullivan: And I still do that to help people feel more comfortable even at the grocery store! (laughter)

    Maureen Richetelli: We all felt we had a job to do.
    Interviewer: Thank you, Danelle! It sounds like you were a big help to the start of the club!

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  • Click below to go to Maureen’s Interview:

    Current president and Charter Member of the Irish Heritage Society of Milford
    Tuesday, June 20, 2017

    Main interviewer: Sheila Danehy. Others present are Michael McCabe, Sheila Johnson and Bernard Keilty.

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  • Click below to go to Mike’s Interview:

    Current president and Charter Member of the Irish Heritage Society of Milford
    Tuesday, June 20, 2017

    Main interviewer: Sheila Danehy. Others present are Maureen Richetelli, Sheila Johnson and Bernard Keilty.

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  • The Co-Founding Fathers of the Club

  • Click below to go to the Co-founders’ Interview:

    Joint interview of Marty Hardiman and Chris McEnerney, co-founders and past presidents of the Irish Heritage Society of Milford. February 23rd, 2017

    Main Interviewer: Steve Kraftmiller. Others present are Nancy Smith, Mark Morse, Maureen Richetelli, Bernard Keilty, Sheila Johnson and guest Jane Kraftmiller (Steve’s chauffeur).

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  • Click below to go to Marty’s Interview:

    Co-founder, past president and Charter Member of the Irish Heritage Society of Milford
    Saturday November 19, 2016

    Main interviewer: Nancy Smith

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  • Click below to go to Chris’s Interview:

    Co-Founder, past president and Charter Member of the Irish Heritage Society of Milford
    Friday, January 13, 2017

    Main interviewer: Bernard Keilty

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