Author: William Puchert

SADOE Receives City of Reno Historical Resources Commission Award

The Sons & Daughters of Erin were be recognized on May 9 by the City of Reno Historical Resources Commission for their Legacy Business Award, which recognizes the City’s oldest businesses for their contribution to the community. SADOE joined other businesses that were over 50 years old for their contribution to the community. We were nominated by one of our Irish Person’s of the Year, Cindy Ainsworth, a former president of the RHRC, for our efforts in restoring Irish-American Family graves at Hillside Cemetery and continuing the Blanchfield Memorial Tradition.

Ainsworth’s nomination stated the following:

The group is dedicated to celebrating Irish history, culture and traditions.

The non-profit organization was established in 1969 and is one of the oldest Irish Clubs on the west coast.  The group not only promotes the history of the Irish in Nevada, but through the years has contributed to the Northern Nevada community in many ways.  The group established the St. Patrick’s Grove in Rancho San Rafael, continues to help with the Hillside Cemetery restoration of 19th Century Irish families’ gravesites and reinstated the Blanchfield Memorial Ceremony.  This active  organization itself should be considered a part of Reno’s history.

History and Accomplishments:

The Sons of Erin was formed in 1969 by nearly forty prominent Reno businessmen and elected officials, who held their first St. Patrick’s Day Dinner & Show at the Reno Elks Lodge. They included the last names of Healy, Connolly, O’Mara and Sullivan who are familiar in the business community today. The name “Sons of Erin” (Ireland) is derived from a Civil War regiment made-up of Irish soldiers.

In 1996, their name was changed to: “The Sons and Daughters of Erin (SADOE).” They are and have been involved in community projects over the years to improve conditions in our area including the following activities: Memorial tree planting at St. Patrick’s Grove in Rancho San Rafael park, adopting Longford Park in Sparks, inheriting the Celtic Celebration as the “Northern Nevada Celtic Ceilidh,” participating in various community events such as parades and donating to local charitable organizations 

In 2012, SADOE renewed a tradition of spreading shamrocks on the grave of Irish-American airmail pilot William Blanchfield, on or around St. Patrick’s Day. The event continues as an annual memorial with a bagpiper and recitation of his heroic feats. Many Blanchfield relatives attend the yearly event. SADOE commemorated the century mark of this tradition at their St. Patrick’s Day Dinner earlier this year.

In 2019, the group worked with the Sons and Daughters of Erin of Southern Nevada and with assistance from the City of Reno to restore around 30 burial plots of Irish families at Hillside Cemetery, one of Reno’s oldest cemeteries.

Reno Irish Group Commemorates Century Long Tradition

Note: The following article was published in the April 2024 edition of the Irish Herald of Northern California

By William Puchert

The Sons & Daughters of Erin of Northern Nevada (SADOE) commemorated a century long tradition of honoring Irish-American airmail pilot William Blanchfield.

Over the weekend of March 9-10, the Reno-based Irish heritage club celebrated the 100th anniversary of the tradition spreading shamrocks sent from Blanchfield’s native town of Courtmachsherry, County Cork and placed on Blanchfield’s grave at a Reno cemetery on or around St. Patrick’s Day with at their annual dinner and a memorial ceremony the following day.

The tradition began after the airmail pilot died on August 1, 1924 while attempting to perform an ariel stunt of dropping a wreath on the grave of a fallen pilot. Ordinarily a two-man task, it was unexpectedly left to Blanchfield alone when his aerial assistant fell ill. As he made the last of three slow descending circles over the burial ground, maneuvering his DeHavilland DH.4 bi-plane with one hand while holding the wreath in the other, the aircraft struck telephone lines and burst into flames. The young flyer was killed instantly, and fire from the wreckage destroyed a house nearby. He was only 29 years old when he died.

The following March, Blanchfield’s mother in Ireland began sending sprigs of shamrocks to then Reno undertaker Silas Ross to be placed at the grave of her son on St. Patrick’s Day. The tradition continued by other relatives until the undertaker’s death in 1975, was continued by Barbara Rabenstein of Reno, whose home Blanchfield struck and destroyed with his plane and then by Reno historian Cindy Ainsworth, who was honored at the dinner. In 2012, SADOE created a formal memorial ceremony with a bagpiper and a recitation of Blanchfield’s life, at the request of a few Courtmacsherry residents.

Since SADOE has carried out the ceremony, interest has grown in the tradition and in recent years has attracted three of Blanchfield’s living descendants Bob Williams of Carson City, Erin Saenz of Sacramento and Maureen Nokes of San Jose who all received a proclamation at the dinner honoring their relative by a group of Reno elected officials.

Blanchfield was a distant cousin of Captain Myles Keogh, an Irish-American soldier who served in the Papal Army and then in Union Army in the Civil War where he fought in the Battle of Gettysburg and served under Gen. George Custer until he died in the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Prior to emigrating to America, Blanchfield flew reconnaissance missions for the Royal Air Force at the outbreak of World War I, shot down three German aircraft and attained the rank of Major by the war’s end. He arrived in Reno in 1920, where he immediately applied for citizenship and a year later joined the fledgling US Government Postal Service as a pilot flying the Reno to Elko leg in the first day-to-night transcontinental airmail delivery. These pioneer aviators were regarded at that time as the “Pony Express of the Skies.”

Blanchfield was widely mourned when he died and Reno’s first airport, now a municipal golf course, was named “Blanch Field” in his honor. Reno’s surrounding area still has remnants of cement navigational arrow beacons that guided Blanchfield and other airmail pilots along their transcontinental route.

SADOE also has engaged in a public service project of restoring 30 Irish family plots at one of Reno’s oldest cemeteries near its university in recent years. Founded as the Sons of Erin in 1969 and reincorporated as SADOE in 1996, the non-profit Irish heritage organization presents and sponsors Celtic events, celebrates Irish history and culture, participates in local events and donates to local charities. For more info, visit

William Puchert is the President of SADOE. A San Francisco native, his Irish ancestors were stone masons in the Colma cemeteries

Local Irish American Author’s Memoir On Life After His Father’s Death

Local marketing specialist Dave Mulligan has a memoir about his younger years following the untimely death of his beloved father in the 1980s, legendary  Hollywood comedy writer and producer, Jim Mulligan—-legendary Hollywood comedy writer and producer, Jim Mulligan, who had an impressive portfolio of TV shows including was Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, the Smothers Brothers, Sonny & Cher, Webster, Silver Spoons, specials for John Denver, Perry Como, Andy Williams and others. M*A*S*H was one of his last before he died at 55.

The book chronicles the younger Mulligan’s adventures dropping everything and beginning a whirlwind tour around the world to find himself with plenty of adventures. He also has a book of short stories, essays and poems. The Mulligans’ Irish ancestors, Mathew and Bridget Mulligan, emigrated from County Clare.

He also has a book of short stories, essays and poems. The Mulligan’s Irish ancestors, Mathew and Bridget Mulligan emigrated from County Clare.

To order a copy via Amazon, click here. To contact Dave Mulligan, click here

SADOE Members’ Therapy Dogs Pay Visit To LV FBI Field Office

SADOE is proud to support members of our law enforcement community. Last week, the Dalmations owned by SADOE Treasurer Paul Beaton and Director Missy Reinheimer were invited to provide their therapy services at the FBI Las Vegas Field Office. Molly and Cooper were accompanied by Retired FBI Special Agent Maureen Anderson-Borosky and her therapy dog, Tex.

Molly, who has been certified as a therapy dog for over 6 years, was making her 3rd visit to the FBI. Cooper, nearly a year old, is in the process of obtaining his therapy certification, and this was his first official observed visit.

A photographer for the US State Department happened to be in the Las Vegas office at the same time as our visit and took the attached pictures. The FBI intends to have Molly and Cooper visit on a more regular basis as they have seen the positive results their visit have for Agents and staff.

Molly makes regular visits to Henderson’s Police and Fire Dispatch Center, as well as occasional visits to Henderson Fire Stations. Cooper will start making these visits as well once he finishes his therapy certification. They are happy to help our local first responders any way they can.

Preserving The Graves Of Irish Americans in Reno

SADOE Member Fran Tryon returned to give an update at the May General Meeting about the restoration efforts of Nevada’s oldest burial grounds that contains the graves of about 30 Irish families.

Located at 900 Nevada Street near the Knights of Pythias Hall just west of UNR, the Hillside Cemetery has undergone many improvements since Tryon first spoke to SADOE in 2018 about those Irish buried there–several of whom immigrated to America as during the Great Famine of the 19th Century.

Her presentation then and at our May meeting brought to life many of the over 30 Irish Americans buried there by discussing who they were, their decedents and ancestors. Each person buried there requires 36 hours of research. The cemetery was established in 1876 and was widely used until the early 20th Century. Those buried there include those families that have Reno streets named after them. For example, Irish American Kate Mayberry, daughter of James Mayberry and Catherine Blessington Mayberry and her three aunts. Also among them is the late Nevada Congressman George Cassidy, who served from 1886-1890, who received a US Congressional Marker at his grave.

For years, the cemetery had been neglected, vandalized which required years of volunteer labor to clear the brush and haul away trash. Tryon and others formed the Hillside Cemetery Preservation Foundation (HCPF) as a non profit organization dedicated to protecting the cemetery and engages in restoration efforts, public information campaigns to protect the cemetery from development and guarding against vandals and thieves. Their Facebook page reports on their events and activities.

They welcome assistance with the cemetery’s upkeep as they are a volunteer organization. Several community organizations donate their time and resources.

In 2019, SADOE was awarded $2000 in Grants from the City of Reno and the Southern Nevada Sons & Daughters of Erin (SNSDOE) to install burial plaques at the Irish Family plots and other restoration projects. In August of that year, a delegation of SNSDOE members came up to Reno to assist in clean up efforts and to present our organization with a check.

In August 2020, during the pandemic, the Irish grave plaques were installed and a brought a significant improvement to the cemetery. In June of 2022, SADOE awarded the remaining $500 in funds to the HCPF from its original grant money. The Foundation frequently holds a Meet the Families event to raise money for ongoing restoration and to celebrate the completion of their work.

Thanks to SADOE members and previous Irish Persons of the Year David Bobzien and Missy Reinheimer for their roles in helping us get the grant funds.

Related: The July 2023 Version of the Reno News & Review published a story on SADOE’s efforts to restore Irish American graves at Hillside Cemetery.

SADOE Member Wins TMCC Alumnus Of The Year

Congratulations to SADOE Member Courtney Meredith who was recently selected for Truckee Meadows Community College’s Alumnus of the Year.

She graduated from TMCC High School, received her AAS degree at TMCC, and carries numerous certifications and degrees in Graphic Design, Communications, Digital Media, Arts, and Marketing. Courtney is the CEO, Senior Design Strategist, and Creative Director of Design on the Edge, a boutique family-owned design firm and agency co-founded with her husband, Chris, a previous recipient. They are pictured above at their graduation years ago.

Alumni of the Year serve as ambassadors of TMCC to their communities, and represent how far a TMCC education can propel a student into their future. Every spring, TMCC collects nominations for the title of Alumna/us of the Year, which is selected by a committee of faculty, staff and community members. At Commencement each year, the Association bestows this honor to an individual who demonstrates excellent service to TMCC and to the Reno/Sparks community. She will be honored at TMCC’s Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 12 at Lawlor Events Center

Courtney and her family’s agency, Design on Edge, have received numerous marketing and advertising awards over the years and she is former recipient of the Silver Thistle (Scot of the Year) Award from our Scottish cousins in the Nevada Society of Scottish and is a past recipient of SADOE’s Irish Person of the Year.

SADOE VP’s Winery Wins Prestigious Wine Competition Awards

Congratulations to our friends at Nevada Sunset Winery, owned by SADOE’s Vice President Mike Steedman and his partner Alynn Morgan Delisle for winning two gold medals and four silver medals in the prestigious SF Chronicle Wine Competition, which is the largest competition in North America. They invite you to come to their Tasting Room, located at 415 E 4th St in the Reno Brewery District of Downtown Reno  Thursday – Saturday from 3-7p to give these a try. Nevada Sunset Winery and their neighboring businesses Black Rabbit Meadery and Lead Dog Brewing is the site of our  Northern Nevada Celtic Ceilidh mentioned below.

SADOE Member Collecting Valentines For Seniors

SADOE member and Sparks City Councilman Donald Abbott is once again leading an effort in what has become an annual public service campaign to encourage local children to send hand made Valentine’s Cards
to deliver to local seniors, several of of whom are alone or without families.

He is encouraging the community to have children make Valentines/ Friendship cards and looking to partner with elementary schools and parents. You my drop them off at Cardinal Financial, 979 Pyramid Way, Ste 101 in Sparks by Feb. 7. Last year the campaign resulted in nearly 4,000 Valentine’s Day Cards to local seniors at 51 different locations. This year’s goal is to reach 5,500.

Donald and his co-organizer of this campaign were featured on KOLO-TV Channel 8 last week and spoke about their campaign.

For more information and to get involved call Donald at 775-771-8674.

Storyteller’s Tour of Erin’s Isle

SADOE Member and Erin’s Isle Podcast creator Erin Breen is offering a  two-week exclusive tour of  Ireland, where she will share the stories behind it all May 23 through June 6, 2023

The tour features High Tea at Ashford Castle, Dublin Tour and its pubs, walk the Prom on Galway Bay, a visit the Donkey Sanctuary, a hike the Cliffs of Moher and much more.

The cost is $4,400 per person double occupancy  (Single Supplement: $1,065) and includes 12 hotel nights with breakfast daily, including downtown Dublin, Abbeyglen Castle and quaint Irish inns 4 dinners, including ‘Welcome to Ireland’ dinner, special dinners at Abbeyglen Castle and the Leename Hotel, and dinner in the cars of the original Orient Express.

Ground transportation, including Luas Trams, trains, the hop-on hop-off bus and private coach. $500 non-refundable deposit due upon booking, remainder due April 8.

Convenient airline booking and travel insurance, as well as pre- and post-trip additions, are available from Mandi Mendez, Business & Leisure Travel Solutions, [email protected]

The tour is limited to 12 persons so reserve your spot now! Contact Erin Breen by calling 775-379-6929.

SADOE Member Attends White House State Dinner

SADOE Member and Reno City Councilman Devon Reese joined Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve as guests at the White House State Dinner last Thursday honoring French President Emmanuel Macron.

“It was the experience of a lifetime and one that will stay with me forever. My heart is very full,” said Reese, who has been in Washington DC this week attending a conference.

KRNV My News 4 has an article on the White House visit, which shows photos of Reese with Vice President Kamala Harris and Late Night Host Stephen Colbert.  The Reno dignitaries joined a list of more than 300 additional guests. The state dinner honor foreign leaders is a tradition that dates back to 1800s with Ulysses S. Grant hosted a Hawaiian king in 1874.

According to Wikipedia, the last state dinner for an Irish Republic dignitary was former President Mary Robinson in 1996.

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