GCUES Presidents 1 thru 3

L to R- J. Barney Ferguson, NYPD ES (2) Tom Doyle, FDNY ES (3), Mrs Sean O’Huigin, Sean O’Huigin, Ireland Counsel General and future Ambassador to the USA and Jack Clark (1). Picture taken in 1983

The Beginnings

It was during the 1950s that the movement for Emerald Societies took hold with the formation of NYPD Emerald Society (1953), NYCD Emerald Society (1955), and FDNY Emerald Society (1956). The movement led to the formation of Emerald Societies not only in New York but across the country.

The founders of the respective Emerald Societies, mindful of the fact that the average Irish Organization is composed of Irish people from every walk of life, decided that the idea of occupational groups under the name of “Emerald Society” would provide a means of enabling Irish peoples by birth or ancestry, to meet their “Brother and Sister Emeralds” in the same trade or profession. More important, it would be a new avenue of approach for those of Irish heritage to continue their efforts in perpetuating their history, customs and traditions.

History of the Grand Council

The Grand Council of Irish Societies Inc. was founded in 1956 in New York City. The Council had 65,000 members in all Emerald Societies and Irish American societies in Federal, State, and City civil service. In 1968 the Grand Council of Irish Emerald Societies Inc. changed its name to the name to The National Grand Council of Irish Emerald Societies Inc.

The Grand Council of Emerald Societies Inc. was incorporated on May 29, 1958 and the Grand Council of Police Emerald Societies was formed in the early 1970’s.

At one point in time, three Grand Councils existed, and the Emerald Societies splintered into many factions. At the slightest notice, an Emerald Society would leave one Grand Council and switch to another.

In 1974, the Grand Council’s were down to two groups. The Grand Council of Police Emeralds, headed by William McGowan (NYC Police Dept). The National Grand Council of Irish Emerald Societies, led by John P. Clark (NYC Correction Dept), had all the other Emerald Societies, both in the police, public and private sector.

In the Spring of 1974, Frank Cull, legendary Irish Echo columnist “Round the Emerald Green,” was approached to mediate a merger and was named Chairman Pro-Temp. Attorney Thomas McCarthy set out to settle differences in constitutions, by-laws, treasuries, and other legal matters.

Thomas Reilly of the Port Authority Police Emerald Society suggested the delegate body overwhelmingly accepted the name, Grand Council of United Emerald Societies (emphasizing “United”), and Paul Cinder of the MABSTOA Emerald Society designed the logo

A constitution-formation committee was named, and the group consisted of Pat Heslin, (Port Authority Police Emeralds), Ed Hazel (NYC Sanitation Emeralds), Jack Clark, (NYC Correction Emeralds), and Matt Walsh (NYC Transit Police Emeralds). In December of 1974, the first elections were held at the Irish Institute in Manhattan, and Jack Clark was elected the first President with his term of office to commence on January 1, 1975. The Grand Council of United Emerald Societies became a reality! 

The Emeralds have grown dramatically since the 1950s, and the Grand Council, in particular, has engineered many of those organizations.


The Grand Council of United Emerald Societies has a membership over 25,000 members with 25 Affiliated Emerald Societies.

The membership of our Affiliated Emerald Societies serve in front-line professions such as Law Enforcement, Fire Service, EMS, Education, Sanitation, Mass Transit and Public Utilities.

The Grand Council has affiliates in New York City, NY Counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Ulster, New York-New Jersey, Boston MA. and the Washington D.C area.

Our members served with pride before the pandemic, during the pandemic, and we will continue to after we eradicate the pandemic.