HomeDOE HistoryDOE PittsburghDOE BuffaloDOE DetroitDOE Member area


Daughters of Erin

In October 1954 at the National Convention of the Knights of Equity held at the Powers Hotel, Rochester New York a group of wives and sisters of the Knights decided to organize a women's auxiliary for the Knights of Equity. The resolution to make the Daughters of Erin an auxiliary of the Knights of Equity was passed October 9, 1959 at the 64th National Convention held at the Shelby Hotel, Detroit Michigan. The aims and objects of the Daughters of Erin are to aid the Knights of Equity financially, socially, and to further its aim, principles and causes. To participate in catholic action and contribute to charity. To foster Americanism. The Current President of the Daughters of Erin is Ellen McGraw Kuehlewind from Court 5, Buffalo.

In October 1954 at the National Convention of the Knights of Equity held at the Powers Hotel, Rochester, NY a group of wives and sisters of the Knights of Equity from Rochester and Detroit met and decided to organize an auxiliary for the Knights of Equity. After much discussion Mrs. Jean Maguire from Detroit offered to draw up a set of By-Laws to be sent to Knights for approval. Officers Pro-Tem elected were:

President: Mrs. Jean Maguire - Detroit Vice-President: Mrs. Irene Hart - Rochester Secretary: Mrs. Julia Dean - Detroit Treasurer: Mrs. Belle O’Connell -Rochester

In 1955 Mrs. Jean Maguire sent a copy of the By-Laws to be read at three consecutive meetings. The aims and objects of the Daughters of Erin are to aid the Knights of Equity financially, socially, and to further its aim, principles and causes. To participate in Catholic action and contribute to charity. To foster Americanism.

In October 1956 the Knights of Equity Convention was held at the Sheraton-McAlpine Hotel in New York City. Regarding the National Daughters of Erin, the matter was tabled for this year and will be presented at a later date. In October 1960 The National Convention of the Knights of Equity was held in Buffalo, New York at the Statler Hotel. The National Daughters of Erin were officially accepted by the Knights of Equity as an Auxiliary. The following officers were elected: National President: Mrs. Jean Maguire, Detroit, Michigan Vice-President: Mrs. Ruth Bush, Buffalo, New York Secretary: Mrs. Catherine Kavanaugh, Detroit, Michigan Treasurer: Mrs. Thelma Kavanaugh, Detroit, Michigan Trustees: Mrs. Madeline Sheehan, Buffalo, New York Mrs. Lois Leahy, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Mrs. Belle O’Connell, Rochester, New York Mrs. Julia Dean, Detroit, Michigan Mrs. Catherine Riley, Irwin, Pennsylvania The resolution to make the Daughters of Erin an auxiliary of the Knights of Equity was passed October 9, 1959 at the 64th Convention of the Knights held at the Shelby Hotel, Detroit, Michigan. (From minutes of the Convention.) The first National Convention of the Daughters of Erin was held in conjunction with the National Convention of the Knights of Equity, October 13th through 15th, 1960, at the Statler Hotel in Buffalo, New York. Present at that time were Daughters of Erin from Rochester, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Irwin, as well as some women from Toledo which hadn’t formed a Daughters of Erin as yet.

Motion was made by Mrs. Ruth Bush, Buffalo, New York seconded by Mrs. Lois Leahy, Pittsburgh, PA that a per capita tax of twenty- five cents ($.25) per each member be assessed immediately, and in the future to be payable by the first of October of each year. There was much discussion as to an emblem for the Daughter of Erin. Either the Irish Claddagh Ring, or the Tara Brooch. It was decided to table the matter until the next meeting in 1961. There were 55 members present at the first meeting . At the request of the President Rev. Roy Morphy, Rochester, New York was appointed Spiritual Director for the coming year.

The second National Convention of the Daughters of Erin was held at Powers Hotel, Rochester, New York October 1961. It was decided to allow one vote for every twenty members, and one vote for the President. Also the Tara Brooch was selected as the emblem of the Daughters of Erin. It was decided that the Constitution which was established in 1954 be revised, allowing, each Court to be governed by its own by-laws, as long as there was no conflict with the National Constitution. Mrs. Maguire appointed the following committee to review the Constitution and report their findings at the next National Convention. Mrs. Ruth Bush, Mrs. Madeline Sheehan, and Mrs. Pat Caudle all of Buffalo.

The Third National Convention of the Daughters of Erin was held at Toledo, Ohio, October 1962. It was proposed that we have a National Charity. The Convention City will select the charity that will receive the donation from the Daughters of Erin in the name of the National Organization for the following year. Each court will determine the amount to be given on the basis of their membership or by some organized activity to raise funds, and will present this check at the next convention. Activity Reports for the year 1962 were read. The Fourth National Convention was October, 1963, at the Penn Sheraton Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

A resolution was passed that the National Charity for 1963, the Seminary of the Divine Word, in Ohio, be presented with a check as a memorial to late Past President, Jean Maguire, who died May 26th, 1963. The Daughters of Erin will always feel the impact of her fine organizational and leadership qualities.

Amendments to the By-Laws were made, and a copy of a proposed National Constitution was given to each Court and to the Supreme Secretary of the Knights of Equity for their approval and recommendations.

The initiation ceremony of the “Conversion at Tara” was presented by the Buffalo Court and was unanimously adopted as the official initiation ceremony.

The Fifth Convention of the Daughters of Erin was held in conjunction with the 69th Convention of the Knights of Equity at the Sheraton-Cadillac Hotel, Detroit, Michigan, October 15th through 17th, 1964.

A hearty welcome was extended to the newly re-organized Court at Irwin. A resolution was passed to record the loss of our late President, John F. Kennedy by entering it in the minutes of the meeting and a copy of the resolution was forwarded to Mrs. John F. Kennedy.

Another resolution was passed that all Courts adopt the third Sunday in September as the date for the joint Mass and Communion for all living and deceased Daughters of Erin.

These officers were elected for 1965: President: Lois Leahy, Pittsburgh Vice-President: Rosemary Rowan, Toledo Secretary: Mary Jane Duffy, Pittsburgh Treasurer: ` Josephine Cotter, Detroit

The Supreme Secretary of the Knights returned the copy of the National Constitution as approved, and it was unanimously approved by the Daughters.

The Daughters have met in National Assembly each year since 1954 and have made significant contribution to the Knights of Equity and to the Irish American community.


1960-1962 Jean Maguire Detroit

1963-1964 Ruth Bush Buffalo

1965-1966 Lois Leahy Pittsburgh

1967-1968 Rosemary Rowan Toledo

1969-1970 Irene Hart Rochester

1971-1972 Mary O’Connor Detroit

1973-1974 Patricia Caudle Buffalo

1975-1976 Marion McMahon Pittsburgh

1977 Belle O’Connell Rochester

1978 Madelyn Sheehan Buffalo

1979 Maelyn Sheehan Buffalo

1980-1981 Bernice Bolsinger Pittsburgh

1982-1983 Phyllis Casey Detroit

1984-1985 Ruth Ryan Buffalo

1986-1987 Marie McDonough Altoona

1988-1989 Mary Margaret Meyer Pittsburgh

1990-1991 Dianne Dobson Detroit

1992-1994 Mary McGraw Buffalo

1995-1997 Norma Jean Reilly Pittsburgh

1998-2000 Joann Kelly Detroit

2001-2002 Bonnie O'Hara Buffalo

2003 – 2004    Eileen Dougherty Pittsburgh

2005 – 2006    Mary Lou McKelvey Detroit

2007 – 2008    Ellen McGraw Kuehlewind Buffalo



The forerunner of the Daughters of Erin, Court #5, was the group known as the Ladies of Kincora. This group, composed of wives of third degree members of the Knights of Equity, was recognized as an Auxiliary of the Knights of Equity at the national convention in Detroit, Michigan in October 1959.

The formation of Court # 5 Daughter of Erin in early 1960 consisted of many, but not all, members of the Kincora group and other eligible Irish women from the local community. Throughout the past 35 years the Buffalo Court has worked diligently to live up to the concepts under which they were formed - to help the Knights of Equity spiritually, financially and socially - to participate in Catholic Action - to foster Americanism and to promote Irish Culture.

The Daughters have helped the Knights in many ways - with conventions, parties, socials after meetings and other projects with both moral support and at times a good share of elbow grease.

Charity has always has been a priority. Flea markets, raffles, dinners and currently our Calendar Party have helped to raise funds for charity. Our Lady of Victory Infant Home was the primary recipient in our early years and is still among the many worthy causes receiving support. Over the years Belfast Summer Relief , the Local Parade Committee, the Feis sponsored by the Irish Cultural & Folk Art Association, three schools of Irish Dance as well as many other worthy organizations have reaped the reward of the Daughter fund raising activities. In general they reflect the Irish Community and mainly those which pertain to our children. Every Christmas at our party we collect small individual gifts to be given to the patients of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.

The Daughters many projects have helped to bring knowledge of Irish culture to both our members and friends. Speakers, Gaelic classes, Irish dancing, history of Ireland portrayed in skits and on floats in the local St. Patrick’s Day Parade are but few of the ways we have worked to insure our heritage. The inspiring “Conversion at the Hill of Tara” initiation ceremony is a wonderful introduction to our Irish roots for incoming members.

Meetings are held on the third Wednesday of the month at the Buffalo Irish Center, the same as the Knights of Equity. After the meetings our two groups socialize. We feel this common gathering has helped to keep our courts strong through the years. Daughters and Knights work as a team to raise funds for scholarships and to host the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Dinner and the Stag, Doe and Fawn Picnic.

Our membership fluctuated through the years from 40 at the beginning to 175+ today.  Attendance at our meetings is very good.

We are proud to have seen 8 members of Court 5 serve as National President.  They are Ruth Bush, Pat Caudle, Marilyn Ryan, Madelyn Sheehan, Ruth Ryan, Mary McGraw, Bonnie O’Hara and Ellen McGraw Kuehlewind.  Mary McGraw and Ellen McGraw Kuehlewind is the first Mother-Daughter to serve as National President of the Daughters of Erin

We are blessed with members who are caring, compatible and willing workers. With God’s help we will continue to enjoy one another company, maintain our ability to assist others and promote our Irish heritage.


The Daughters of Erin in Detroit was organized on a Sunday afternoon in October 1953 when about 15 wives, daughters, mothers and sisters of the Knights of Equity met under the leadership of Jean MAGUIRE to discuss the concept of forming an Auxiliary of the Knight of Equity. Jean and many of those present had attended Knights of Equity conventions and their local activities for many years. Also at that time the Knights had recently opened a beautiful club house on Fenkell Avenue.

The first meeting of the Detroit Daughters of Erin was held in January 1954 with Josephine COTTER serving as the first president. When the National Daughters of Erin was founded in 1961, Jean MAGUIRE of Detroit became the first National President. Our official name became Daughters of Erin Court 6.

From the onset, the Detroit Court concentrated on helping the Knights and planning activities that were family-oriented, such as the “Annual Picnic”; the children’s Christmas party; the children’s Irish Step-Dance lessons and the Mother/Daughter Communion Breakfast. The original hall was the scene of many wedding receptions of the sons and daughters of the members.

Our first charitable contribution was the St. Elizabeth Home, a residence for senior ladies. The PIME Missionaries became our second charity. Later, we chose the Capuchin Soup Kitchen and we have supported this charity for over 20 years. Our fund-raising activities included rummage sales and annual card parties in the original hall which held 39 or more tables.

The Daughters also supported the Knights by hosting many parties; participating in the St. Patrick’s Day Parades; the Memorial Mass Service; the Convention; fund raising dinners; and the Ethnic Festivals in down-town Detroit.

Meetings of the Daughters of Erin have always been held on the 2nd Tuesday of the month. We have held three Sunday afternoon Teas. One to honor Jean MAGUIRE; one in celebration of our 30th Anniversary in 1983; and our most recent Tea featured a harpist and Irish Step-Dancers. These Teas were a way of installing new members and also entertaining members who could no longer go out at night.

Our membership has usually averaged about 65, with a core of 25 involved with the planning and organization of the monthly meetings and activities. Three of our members represent third generations, active along with their mothers and with grandmothers who were founding members of Court 6.

Court 6 has proudly seen six members serve as National Presidents of the Daughters of Erin. They are; Jean MAGUIRE, Mary O’CONNOR, Phyllis CASEY, Dianne DOBSON, Joann KELLY and Mary Lou MCKELVEY.

Court 6 is alive and well. We hope to continue for many years to come. In about ten more years maybe we can get a fourth generation member.


1954-1955 Jo Cotter 1956-1957 Julia Dean 1958-1959 Thelma Cavanaugh 1960-1961 Becky Tavarozzi 1962-1963 Mary O’Connor 1964 Catherine Kavanagh 1965-1966 Betty Mulcahy 1967-1968 Dolores Mulcahy

1969-1970 Joann Kelly 1971-1972 Aileen Mulcahy 1973 1974 Ann Mulcahy 1974-1975 Patricia Murrin 1976 1977 May Lou Houlihan 1977 1977 Betty Mulcahy 1978 1979 Dolores Mulcahy 1979-1980 Joyce Foley 1981-1982 Kathleen Gergel 1983-1984 Grace Schulte 1985-1986 Mary Lou McKelvey 1987-1988 Dianne Dobson 1989-1990 Jo Ann Freeman 1991-1992 Marilyn Walker 1993-1994 Karen Mulcahy 1995- Maureen Kelly


The Daughters of Erin had their start in Pittsburgh in 1956. The first members were either wives or sisters of the Knights of Equity. Their presented a spirit of helpfulness and they assisted the knights in many different ways. They helped them advance spiritually, socially and intellectually. Sir Knight Blair Leahy, John McNamara and Si Robertson were very instrumental in helping these ladies organize. It was decided they would be known as an auxiliary to the Knights of Equity and the decision to call them the Daughters of Erin was made at this time. In 1958 they were officially recognized as an auxiliary to the Knights of Equity, Court 9, Pittsburgh.

At a national convention in 1960 the Daughters of Erin were officially recognized as the auxiliary to the Knights of Equity. A vote was taken and the name “Daughters of Erin” was chosen to be the name of the national auxiliary. The name Daughters of Erin was selected because there is no female equivalent to a knight. The constitution was written by Blair Leahy. The intent of this auxiliary was to assist the knights in their fraternal and cultural work as well as having many activities on their own. “Their aims and objects are to create and foster a spirit of mutual helpfulness among its members; to advance them spiritually, intellectually and socially; and by cooperation among them to promote their material interest and well-being; to participate in Catholic Action and contribute to charity, to foster Americanism and promote Irish Culture”. The preceding excerpt is taken from an article written by Lois and Blair Leahy, members of Court 9.

The Pittsburgh Daughters have flourished well. Our first president was Annabelle Kilkeary and many fine women have succeeded her and contributed much to promote our Irish Heritage. Each one of these ladies is an important part of our history. Quoting from Marian McMahon, a past president, here are some thoughts on what we are about. “We are Americans first, but want to explore and experience our Irish heritage - to know who our forefathers are and what they did and how it shaped our lives and what exactly we have gotten from them, or can get from them if we only desire it. Our lives will be richer if we find the full inheritance of our past.”

Through the years, over $17,000 has been donated to various charities. A huge card party is held once a year and the proceeds go to charity. Some of those who have benefited from the work of the daughters are the Spina Bifida Organization, The Little Sisters of the Poor, The Jubilee Kitchen, The Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation in Ireland, Covenant House, Mom’s House and children from Northern Ireland. We have also contributed to the Salvation Army, Bethlehem Haven ( a woman’s shelter) radio stations who promote the Irish and to anyone of our daughters if the need arises.

Our Birthday Buddy Club enables us to make some youngsters happy on his or her birthday. We contribute to the Holy Family Institute on a monthly basis. We receive a list of names from the Institute telling us who has a birthday that month. We mail a birthday card along with a monetary gift to each of those on the list.. This guarantees a child a gift on his/her birthday. Those in charge tell us this is sometime the only gift that child receives.

We Have Participated in the Flag Day Parade for many years. We also march in the Ethnic Parades held in our city. Of course every year we march proudly in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and we usually receive a trophy. The Daughters along with the knights always have an after-parade party at various sites in the Pittsburgh area. This is a time for families and friends to join us in celebration. Always a great time. Our St. Patrick’s Day Banquet is celebrated on the actual feast day and is recognized throughout the city. This is the event where we display our finest. The TARA Award is presents to a most worthy Irish Daughter at this time. The TARA Award originated in Pittsburgh and was created by Ellen Keeley Toomey a member of Court 9.

Pittsburgh had a folk festival for over 25 years and the Daughters of Erin worked alongside the Knights of Equity in food booths, display booths and stage shows. We also have encouraged Irish dancing and acted as a sponsor so our children and adults could take lessons. At one time in our history we had a professor teaching Gaelic and also conducting Irish History Courses. We were part of an Irish Cultural event entitled Irish Perception, and we enjoyed many Irish artists, actresses, teachers and speakers. A great experience for all. Our Daughters and Knights sponsored an Irish Fortnight which proved to be a very worthwhile project. Standing room only for the presentation of “Just Irish Women”.

The Pittsburgh Daughters have certainly fulfilled the promise of participating in Catholic Action. We attend, in conjunction with the Knights, the memorial mass to remember all of those who have gone before us in that particular year. After this mass we also partake in a lovely breakfast. To show our support for the pro-life campaign, we have sent delegates to Washington D.C. on Pro-Life Day which is usually in January. We support the “Right to Life from Conception until Natural Death”. We pray at every meeting and whenever we lose a daughter to the Lord, we pray in unison at the side of the casket. We also have a mass offered upon the death of one of our daughters.

Socially we keep in step with the best. We have an annual picnic for our members with plenty of activity for all. We have taken boat rides , gone to horse races, dog races and even made trips to the Irish Catskills. We have been members of a bowling league for many years. Dinner-dances and shows were once part of our social life. Of course the galas are always a fun time for all of us. There was a time when we held Halloween Parties and dressed in costume. An annual Christmas Party was held for the children and grandchildren of the members. To celebrate the Christmas Season we always have a Christmas Party for all the daughters. On special occasion we have some daughters who show up in costume just to obtain a few laughs.

Court 9 has proudly seen six members serve as National Presidents of the Daughters of Erin. They are; Lois Leahy, Marion McMahon, Bernice Bolsinger, Mary Margaret Meyer, Norma Jean Reilly, Eileen Dougherty

Anna Carr, Publicly Representative for the National Daughters as well as Court 9 for many years has offered this description of the Pittsburgh Daughters.

“The Daughters of Erin of Pittsburgh has something of interest to all age groups, from the movers and the shakers to the ladies who just want to sit back and enjoy”. That seems to be an appropriate description. We have projected our Irish image by our Masses, helping the old as well as the young, the healthy and the sick, the poor and the homeless.

Updated and corrected 11 Sept. 2007