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  • 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 charter 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.

    If you would like to join other Irish history enthusiasts to support this amazing project,
    only a few hours a month is all that is needed and we will be on our way to documenting our Milford Irish roots! A sign-up sheet is available at the club house at our monthly meetings. Current members are excited to welcome new members to further our progress toward documenting the creation and founding of our beautiful club and to record the early immigration of our Irish ancestors to the Milford area.

    To join the History Project or add your family’s story, contact the Irish History Project Co-chairs at ihsmhistoryproject@gmail.com.

  • Steve and Kathy Kraffmiller at the 2015 CTIAHS Award Brunch
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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 Maureen Moore

    Maureen Moore, charter member of IHSM, Cultural Committee Chair, past Social Activities Committee Chair, and past Chairperson for ‘The Market Place’ at the Festival.
    March 17th, 2019
    Main interviewer: Amy Lacey. Othrers present: Bernard Keilty and Sheila Danehy.

    Interviewer: Why did you join the Irish Heritage Society?

    Maureen: Well, the initial reason was that I was badgered by my best friend, Maureen Richetelli. No, she didn’t really badger me, but she got me interested. When they had the first meeting, I was unavailable because I was away, but I promised that I would follow up and go thereafter. I became interested for real in my Irish heritage the year before the club was founded when I went to Ireland. It was just such an amazing experience. I saw my father’s face on every street corner and that just made me very interested in becoming part of the organization. So that’s really how it started. My interest was piqued later in life, really, from the time of my engagement and marriage to Tom because he came from a huge Irish family. His mother was the oldest of seventeen! Keilty’s. So when he and I were engaged and young marrieds, it seemed like we went to some cousin’s wedding every Saturday for the first five years of our marriage, and every wedding ceremony and reception was followed by a magnificent party in someone’s garage, driveway, or backyard and the Irish songs would come out. That was 1964, when we got married, so from then on I really became interested in my Irish heritage. But the joining of the club, when the meeting came up, I was already interested after having been to Ireland, and there was no way that I could get around it, even if I wanted to…not with Maureen Richetelli in the picture! (laughter)

    Interviewer: OK. Right! What are your early memories of club experiences?

    Maureen Moore: I loved it from the beginning. Yes, I loved it from the beginning. The people that I met were just some of the nicest people that I’ve met in my life. I mean I have old friends — I’ve been in Milford since 1958 — I have high school friends and I have friends from various jobs, but many of the people that are nearest and dearest to me at this point in my life are part of this club, and I just found that whether there was this common interest or just similar heritage or same types of personalities — although there are many different types of personalities in this club — we seemed to click. Not that there weren’t debates, if you will, at the meetings where they got hot and heavy many times. Because we were still learning as we went along — as we still are — but there wasn’t as much structure as far as who was in charge of what and who was delegated to do what and a lot of people thought they were the boss which tends to create problems. (laughter) We had long meetings with lots of discussions but to me there were always the feelings of camaraderie and friendship, so those are my early memories in our nomadic stage.

    How about specific events?

    Maureen Moore: The first festival was amazing. Everyone thought we were crazy even those of us who wanted to do it, and I got involved with that right off the bat. We were in awe of ourselves, if you understand what I’m saying. It was happening, and it was successful, and it was like, “Oh My God! We are brand new, we’re having a festival and people loved the idea.” I got involved with the vendors on the early side of ‘The Market Place.’ I don’t even remember if we had that the first year, but I thought that was an important part of it. That, I think, is the thing that stands out the most, those early years. And we didn’t have a home, so we always had to find a place to ‘hold’ something if we were having an event. And that, of course, was a challenge for me as chair of the Social Activities Committee for many years, because it’s fine to say let’s do this or that but then it automatically costs you $350 on the front side before you’ve even sold a ticket or sold a glass of beer or anything. So those were challenging times as well. But, you know, that’s what I kind of remember. I remember planning certain early events. I remember a Christmas Party at Orange Ale House. I don’t know if it was the first year we were meeting or not, but my daughter Colleen was here from Texas and she ended up on the stage with Keltic Kick playing the tambourine. You know, she’s cute as a button, of course, and has long red hair, and she was up there with Keltic Kick. And she still talks about it. Things like that were always so much fun…just the craic, I guess! A lot of it was great!

    Interviewer: You’ve talked a bit about how you’ve been to Ireland, and how you got interested in your Irish heritage. Do you have early childhood memories of your Irish heritage?

    Maureen Moore: It really was not a thing that was talked about very much. We always knew, according to my father, that the Irish were better than anyone else in the world, but he was a bit of an Archie Bunker type, so it wasn’t so much about how great they were, but how everyone else didn’t quite measure up. We didn’t grow up in an Irish neighborhood. There was one other Irish family. My best friends were Jewish. It was in New Haven. And there were a couple of Italian families. And then there were 2 token Irish families. My father was proud of being Irish, but he didn’t talk that much about it. I really didn’t know much. His parents were born here. So, I didn’t know anything about my grandparents. And shame on me, I didn’t really pursue it, but I’m definitely interested now. I’ve signed up for a couple sites, so I’d like to really find out about my Irish ancestors.

    Interviewer: Did all that curiosity come about once you married an Irishman?

    Maureen Moore: Well, that made me more aware of what it’s like when an Irish family is really interested in their Irish heritage. He knows all the songs and all of that. That didn’t happen in my family. My father had a difficult life. They were poor. He was second to the youngest of 10. His father died when he was 2 in the flu epidemic of 1918. So they didn’t have like a big jovial Irish family. I mean, I loved them all, and they were always very kind to me and my sisters and brothers, but it wasn’t the same as Tom’s family. They were really…those Keilty’s can party!…AND the Moores…but mostly we were with the Keilty’s, because that was the big family. (laughter)

    Interviewer: What were your original expectations of the club?

    Maureen Moore: I didn’t know what to expect, really. From the beginning, I was interested in the cultural part of it. I’m an English major, and I like literature and poetry and that sort of stuff, and I hoped that that would become part of who we were, and, you know, the fact that we called ourselves the Irish Heritage Society, I was pleased with how we named ourselves. And I felt that we’d live up to it with that name rather than just the Irish Social Club or the Irish Club or whatever, but I really didn’t know what to expect. But, it has far exceeded my expectations. I think it’s amazing what we do with the number of people who are active. We can say we have 1200 members or 1500, but we really have 100 people at the most who run this club, and who make things happen. We have a lot of people who are interested and do take part in the activities. I think we are doing a good job with the cultural. I think we’ve got a great social life here. For some people that are single, and so many women – I’m so pleased that there are so many women who participate. This is a wonderful, safe place to come and to make friends, to not feel like you’re going to be hit on or picked up. I mean, I have problems with that all the time, you know, everybody does. (laughter) But anyway, those are the things that I’m really proud of that we’re becoming more and more well-rounded as a club.

    Interviewer: How do you think the club has changed over the past 10 years?

    Maureen Moore: I think it reflects back on what I was just saying. I think whatever people’s expectations were, I don’t think anyone imagined we’d have all the cultural activities, social activities, traditional music, a home of our own, a bar. I never thought we’d have this place. My older friends in the club and I felt they’d wheel us in, drooling and not knowing where we were, but we never really thought that in our active lifetime that we would have a place like this. I was on the building committee with a lot of the other of the old timers in the club, and there was a lot of discussion about that…what to do, what not to do…so that’s something that I’m very proud of. I think the building has given us a place to be who we really need to be, and it’s also made it inviting to those who may not want just one aspect, but they want to come and watch football and drink at the bar, and do some of the other activities as well. I think it works better than it used to, because there are people who are committed, who have been committed for a long time, and new people — young people — are coming up all the time. I didn’t think that would happen, but there’s a lot of young people that are interested in taking the baton.

    Interviewer: How can we continue to grow and improve?

    Maureen Moore: I think we need to not be overly ambitious. We need to keep what we plan to be quality events rather than quantity of events. That we always keep in mind that it is about our heritage. So the cultural aspect of it is important. I think just working together. I think our boards that we’ve set up and committees are doing a good job with that. A lot of us have learned over the years how to be a committee chair, and how to delegate to people, and again the young people. I can’t emphasize that enough. So, I think the committees that are fostering family activities and kids’ activities, in the long term, they’re going to be very valuable because those are going to be the kids that become the adults who continue it all. Clubs are dying every day. Organizations just can’t keep going. They just don’t have the membership because the young people are not interested.

    Interviewer: You mentioned a few roles you had. Can you remember any other roles that you’ve had? You were talking about the Cultural Committee Chair. Any others that come to mind?

    Maureen Moore: Yes, I was the chairperson of ‘The Market Place’ for a lot of years. In conjunction with that, I started the ‘Tea Cup Raffle’ which the Market Place people contributed gifts to that, and we did away with that when we started doing the trip. There were just too many raffles going on. But that was a lot of fun. Activities Chair was probably the biggest responsibility, and then I was on the board as a Trustee for 3 years, and then I was Parliamentarian. And when I was Trustee, I made an effort to make it not just a job that had a title, but that we actually did things. And now the Trustees are super active, and I feel that I was instrumental in that happening from when I was a Trustee, because I said, “I want to have jobs to do. I want to have a function. I don’t want to just come and raise my hand and say ‘Yea’ or ‘Nay’ to what other people suggest.” So I think that’s something that works really well because those people are turning out to be valuable.

    Interviewer: You also, I believe, started the Cultural Committee which branched off of the Activities Committee.

    Maureen Moore: Yes, well, we decided that it really needed to be two. It was too much for one person. When I decided to step down is when that happened. When I decided to step down as Activities Chair, I said to Kathleen that you need two people — not because it’s me — but that you need two people to do this job. And the logical thing in my mind would be Cultural and Social. And they could interact and they could work together, but sometimes it’s a different audience or a different attendee base. I felt that that was important. So, we created the Cultural Committee and Linda Fera was there, and I managed to corral her into becoming the Cultural Chair, and she was great at it because she has a lot of contacts, and she does that kind of thing for a living, you know, doing social activities at a retirement home. She had a lot of skills and she did a good job.

    Interviewer: And now you’re back in action again!

    Maureen Moore: I know! I’ve got a really, great committee, and I’m a delegator. I don’t want to do everything myself.

    Interviewer: So you talked a little bit about doing research. Have you established your family tree or tested your DNA?

    Maureen Moore: I haven’t done any of that. I attended the workshop we hosted at the library and it went on for a number of weeks. The community was invited to come as well. And a lot of the Irish folks from New Haven, the Historical Society people helped out, but Kathy Kraftmiller was really the leader of that. And I do have my binder on how to do everything, but I just got…it takes a lot of time! And I did retire for a couple of years, but then I went back to work. So now I’m going to retire again for real! Because I really would like to take it up.

    Interviewer: Do you keep up with current events back in Ireland? Being the Cultural chair, maybe you can talk a bit about the grant and the festival we’re thinking about holding in the spring.

    Maureen Moore: Oh, the grant application that we just finished? The grant application is the Emigrant Support Program which is the actual name of the entity that provides this grant. And this year they relegated it to strictly programming whereas in the past, this same program has given us funds for upkeep of the club, restoration of the house, utilities, insurance, all the things that a new club would need help with, but this one is delegated for programming. So, the Cultural Committee had a brainstorming meeting and we came up with the idea of having a one day — it could be longer — Irish Cultural Event. We gave it a Gaelic name which meant festival and when Mike and I were actually doing it on the computer in his office a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday morning — it’s an online application; there’s no hard copy application given — so we decided that the word for festival would make it confusing because we already have a festival. So what I believe we came up with is “Irish Heritage Arts Experience.” So that’s what the name will be. And what we had in mind and what was tossed around at the Cultural Committee meeting is to have something from all aspects of Irish Culture: artisans, knitting, tapestry is something that was brought up; we thought of involving Ogham Art and do the ancient art of Irish language; we have a poet who has come and given a couple of presentations at the club, and she’s a creative writing instructor at UCONN, so we could have her come and do a workshop on that; someone else talked about cooking and maybe have an Irish brown bread class you could sign up for. So this would be all open to the community and members.

    Interviewer: And music?

    Maureen Moore: And music, absolutely, would be a part of it. We’d probably need someone to teach the tin whistle, bodhrán, and other things like that that people might be interested in. So, that’s what we put in the money for, and they will not pay for performers. The portion of that would have to be paid for by the club. They have definite parameters of what they’ll cover. We put in a bid for $15,000 of what we said would be a $20,000 expenditure. We won’t know until the fall if we get the money.

    Interviewer: It sounds wonderful! I can’t imagine they’d say No.

    Maureen Moore: It does. And we can include a lot of other things as well. We can touch base with the Senior Center and maybe hire a little bus that day and bring however many of them want to come. We talked about maybe using Saint Gabriel’s School, a Catholic School that’s closed now, so using it. I also thought of using Lauralton Hall, which is a school that’s open, but it’s an absolutely lovely building to have something like that. And we would end the day with a concert with a big name from Ireland like the Druids or something. But we hope to keep everything mostly free.

    Interviewer: Who were you applying through when you applied for the grant?

    Maureen Moore: It’s through the Irish Consulate. It’s called ESP, Emigrant Support Program and they have been very, very generous to us in years past with some of the other funding, but that’s all been, basically, for the building.

    Interviewer: We talked about establishing the clubhouse. Is the clubhouse meeting your expectations and needs?

    Maureen Moore: As of right now, I don’t think that we have a problem because all 1200 people – Thank God – are not wanting to come on the same night to hear some band or to have a dinner or whatever. I mean, we are limited to the kinds of events that we can hold that involve many like a New Year’s Eve. We are really limited if you want chairs and tables and food to be done. The only thing that I would love to see is for just us to find a way for us to have more food. But it doesn’t seem to have bothered people. I don’t know if that’s why more people don’t come because when you go out for the night you say, “Well, I want to go out to have a drink, but I’d love to have a burger or something.” Like a one-stop shopping type thing. But I’m happy with it. I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the club turned out. The building itself. When I walked in here… Maureen Richetelli and I took a scouting run one Sunday afternoon here. We were both on the building committee. And we sat at the end of that bar on the ricketiest bar stools I’ve ever been on in my life, and there was one bare light bulb in this backroom that wasn’t on yet. We asked to have it turned on so we could look around. And there were about six guys around the bar, and they couldn’t imagine what the hell we were doing there. (laughter) I think she had on a skirt and a little jacket on. And I was dressed up as well. We looked so out of place. They obviously knew right away who we were and why we were there. So I said, “can we look around?” And that’s when they came back and I think they actually screwed in the light bulb that was hanging by a chain in here. We looked around but we did not want to look in the restrooms. And it was a good idea from what I understood later on that we didn’t look in the restroom area. So we sat and had our drink. We each had a vodka and tonic. And we looked at those arches and the wood and we both were solemn. And we went outside later and I said, “you know, those arches just got me.” And so we had a vision that this could be it. There were many times when we were working on this building that I wasn’t as convinced. There had to be at least 10,000 staples in the wall where they had put posters up. So, I worked with a staple puller. My husband and I worked in the house. He painted and I, of course, had to clean woodwork because when I’m his assistant, I do whatever he asks me to do. (laughter) There were times where it was just like Oh My God! And it was like a money pit for a while. Every time you turned around there was something that couldn’t be fixed and had to be replaced. But it’s all good. You know, the heating system, everything, all was new. (Maureen knocks on wood — laughter).

    Interviewer: If you had to pick one thing that makes you glad you joined, what would that be?

    Maureen Moore: It’s the friendships that I’ve made by being a member of this club. There are just so many people that I never would have crossed paths with, and I’m just very glad that I did. I just really met a lot of good friends here. I always feel welcome. And I feel like it’s family. Because people come and go in your lives. A lot of our friends moved away or retired and moved down south, so it was a good time of my life. It’s been thirteen years now. I was about 60 when we started the club. It was a good time in my life to meet some new people and make some new friends, both older and younger. And I enjoy younger people too, so that’s a lot of fun.

    Interviewer: What about your family, your kids? How many kids and are they involved?

    Maureen Moore: Two of my daughters live locally: one lives in Fairfield and one lives in Westport. And they are members, but they’re not active. My husband is not a club person, a meeting guy. He did all of this stuff years ago at the Elks when I was home with the kids. That was his interest, and his cause was Children’s Hospital. He did a lot of fundraising for that. He ran the St. Patrick’s Night at the Elks for many years. He did his thing then. And he just has no patience for meetings or any of that stuff. But, you know, he enjoys coming down and doing the social part of it.

    Interviewer: So you have 2 girls?

    Maureen Moore: I have two girls who are local and two grandsons. One lives in New York and one still lives at home in Fairfield. They’re 25 and 23. And I have a son and he and his wife live in Seattle. Then, my youngest daughter, Colleen, the one who played with Keltic Kick (laughter), lives in Austin, Texas. But whenever they’re here, I bring them down to the club.

    Interviewer: Is there anything else you’d like to add? Or do any History Project members have any questions?

    Bernard Keilty: I just have one question. What kind of an impact do you think the Irish Heritage Society has had on the city of Milford as a community? I mean, Milford’s a pretty good sized town. You can’t know everybody but the club has brought people together. What kind of impact do you think it has had?

    Maureen Moore: I think that we are highly respected in the community. You talk to somebody and say “Irish Heritage Society” and they know of it. It’s not like, “what are you talking about?” or “what is that?” We’re visible and we’re out there and I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone that we do stuff for the community, that we’re contributing to the community, and that we’re not just a bar. I think all the activities where we open it to the public helps, and we need to keep doing that. That brings people in. Some people object to that. They say, “well, they’re never going to join if they can come for free.” I don’t think that’s right. Some people are never going to join anyway. But if they go out and talk to somebody else about what a good time they had, or how interesting this was, they did a wonderful job…some people remember the Star Cafe. Some people remember the Italian restaurant that was here many years ago when my husband and I were young marrieds called Villa Nova. I think it’s had a very positive impact. This Devon neighborhood loves this club. When we were working in here people would walk by and pop in and say, “oh, we’re so glad that you’re here!” and “you’re doing a wonderful job!” They couldn’t have been happier. And the officials have embraced us. Our mayor right now was at the flag raising today which I missed because I was working, but I saluted it on the way home! (laughter) And even when you work with anyone from the city, you know, like the Rec Department, etc. when you’re trying to do the picnic, they know that we’re a positive organization. They were leery to begin with. They were not as easy going but now they know there’s not going to be trouble. It’s not going to be drunks. Most of the time it’s worked out for any kind of a public thing. And I had no idea how many Irish people there were in Milford. I don’t remember the percentage, but it recently was out there how many there are, so they were all in the closet there and they’re all coming out of the woodwork! (laughter). I’m very happy to be a part of it. I always say I’m done, and I’m not doing it anymore, but then I’m pulled back in!

    Interviewer: We know you love it!

    Maureen Moore: I do! I feel like I’m respected by people and usually people listen if I say something. They might not always agree, but they’ll listen. And that’s how it should be. That’s the way we should all be with each other. Even if you don’t agree, you should listen. I’ve changed my mind on things after I’ve felt a certain way. Believe it or not! (laughter). Because I listened to somebody else and saw that they were right. That’s what we need to do. Show mutual respect.

    Interviewer: Yes, it’s true. Anything else you’d like to add?

    Maureen Moore: No, not at all. I just hope it keeps going forever. I really do. And I see it doing that. We might have to move to a bigger place, but that too will happen.

    Interviewer:.. with a stove?!

    Maureen Moore: If we do that, we go to a bigger place, where you can really have families and picnics on your property. Maybe we’ll have to go to the other side of the Post Road or something like that. But that’s down the road. We’re being careful now. We’re not over spending, we’re not jumping into that before it’s necessary and I like that idea. We’re being conservative. We took a big leap but we’re being conservative with what we’re doing now. And I think that will keep us alive.

    Interviewer: I agree with you. And you’ve a been a big part of the club for all thirteen years! And a big inspiration for the Irish!

    Maureen Moore: Thank you! It’s hard not to be enthusiastic because it’s really a special organization!

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  • Click the link below to read Dave Conroy’s Interview:

    Dave Conroy, one of the first charter members of IHSM, past charter trustee, parliamentarian and St. Patrick’s Day Mascot.

    October 17, 1917.

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

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  • Click the link below to read Kathleen Stern’s Interview:

    Kathleen Stern, an Irish Heritage Society Past President, Past Vice President, and Charter Member of IHSM.
    Wednesday, July 12, 2017
    Main interviewer: Sheila Danehy. Others present: Steve Kraftmiller, Nancy Smith, Maureen Richetelli, Sheila Johnson, and Bernard Keilty.

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  • Click the link below to read Priscilla James’ Interview:

    Priscilla James, Irish Heritage Society’s first secretary and Charter Member of IHSM.
    Tuesday, April 18, 2017
    Main interviewer: Nancy Smith. Others present: Steve Kraftmiller, chairman of the Milford Irish History Project, Maureen Richetelli, Bernard Keilty, and Sheila Johnson.

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  • Click the link below to read Ed Mead’s Interview:

    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

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  • Click the link below to read Dan Sullivan’s Interview:

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

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  • Click the link below to read Dan Sullivan’s Interview:

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

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  • Click the link below to read Maureen’s Interview:

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

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

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  • Click the link below to read 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: Maureen Richetelli, Sheila Johnson and Bernard Keilty.

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  • The Co-Founding Fathers of the Club

  • Click the link below to read 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: Nancy Smith, Mark Morse, Maureen Richetelli, Bernard Keilty, Sheila Johnson and guest Jane Kraftmiller (Steve’s chauffeur).

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  • Click the link below to read 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 the link below to read 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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