In those dark and dreary days of 1565, when to be a Catholic in Ireland meant political as well as social ostracism, when to be a priest of the Catholic Church meant to be hunted like a wolf, with the same price upon the head of each, when to impart education to youth or instill the truths of religion into the minds of the people was dealt the same pains and penalties as were prescribed for the commission of the most heinous crimes, when every effort was being made by the English government to stamp intelligence, patriotism and civilization from the minds of the native Irish, the Ancient Order of Hibernians was born.

From traditions in the Order it would seem that its aims and objects were mainly the protection of the priesthood while in the performance of their sacred duties, and the execution of those rites and ceremonies, instituted by the Catholic Church for observance by the faithful throughout the world. Certain it is that to this organization is due in a large measure the preservation of the Catholic religion in Ireland. By their zeal, energy, watchfulness and assiduity, it became possible for the good "Soggarth Aroon" to offer up the holy sacrifice of the Mass, carry the consolations of religion to the sick and dying, and administer the Sacraments to his benighted and scattered flock.

Many are the heroic and chivalrous deeds performed by the members of this Order in executing its work, and undoubtedly many of them suffered severely for their faithfulness whenever the minions of the English crown could establish a fitting case to vent their spleen, malignity or revenge.

This then was the origin of our grand and noble Order. "Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity" was and is now the motto under which we march. In the minds and lives of these men, this legend is not merely a euphonious and attractive phrase intended to catch the popular ear, but is the expression of a principle in accordance with which they endeavor to regulate their lives, not only in theory but in practice, having its roots entwined around the heart of the very organization from which it draws its nourishment and strength.

When in 1798, Wolfe Tone declared for an independent self-governing people in Ireland, consolidating the religious as well as the political questions, under a free government of the Irish people, the members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians supported him and those that followed in their efforts to achieve independence.

Irishmen, by birth and descent, in the United States supported these efforts by giving personal services and money to the cause.

Since I836, when the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America was founded, it has supported all efforts for an independent and free Ireland of 32 counties.

We continue to support the efforts to create a unified Ireland, by the return of the six northeastern counties to the Republic of Ireland.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians is a Catholic, Irish American Fraternal Organization founded in New York City 4 May,1836. The Order can trace its roots back to a parent organization, of the same name, which has existed in Ireland for over 300 years. However, while the organizations share a common thread, the North American A.O.H. is a separate and much larger organization.

The Order evolved from a need in the early sixteen hundreds to protect the lives of priests who risked immediate death to keep the Catholic Faith alive in occupied Ireland after the reign of England's King Henry VIII. When England Implemented its dreaded Penal Laws in Ireland, various secret social societies were formed across the country. These groups worked to aid and comfort the people by whatever means available. Similarly, the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America was founded May 4th, 1836 at New York's St. James Church, to protect the clergy, and church Property from the "Know Nothings" and their followers. At the same time the vast influx of Irish Immigrants fleeing famine issues in Ireland in the late 1840's, prompted a growth of various social societies in the USA - the largest of which was, and continues to be, the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Active across the United States, The Order seeks to aid the newly arrived Irish, both socially, politically. The many Divisions and club facilities located throughout the U.S. traditionally have been among the first to welcome new Irish Americans. Here, the Irish culture -- art, dance, music, and sports are fostered and preserved. The newcomers can meet some of "their own" and are introduced to the social atmosphere of the Irish-American community. the AOH has been at the political forefront for issues concerning the Irish, such as; Immigration Reform; economic Incentives both here and in Ireland; the human rights issues addressed in the MacBride Legislation; Right-To-Life; and a peaceful and just solution to the issues that divide Ireland.

The Order has also provided a continuing bridge with Ireland for those who are generations removed from our country. The AOH sponsors many of the programs associated with promoting our Irish Heritage such as the IRISH WAY PROGRAM.

You may further seek admittance to the FINEST Irish Catholic Organization in the World -- all we would ask is for you to live our motto of:

"Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity".
Dia 's Muire dhuit!

Here is a link to many other Historical Facts found on the National AOH Web page:http://www.aoh.com/pages/irish_history


Facts about the
Ancient Order of Hibernians

  • The AOH is the oldest ethnic organization still operating in the United States.
  • The Hibernians represent the most broadly based Irish-American organization with over 80,000 members in 46 States, Canada and Ireland.
  • The twin constitutional goals of the Irish and Catholic membership is to assist in the re-unification of Ireland and to support the church and it mission.
  • Hibernian monuments to famed Irish or Irish-Americans (Commodore Barry, Robert Emmett) and memorials to events like the Great hunger or the slaughter of abortion are in every major American city and in Mobile, AL (Fr Abram Ryan), Washington, D. C. (Nuns of the Battlefield), Valley Forge, PA (Medal of Honor grove), and Chicago, ILL (.Mt Olivet Cemetery).
  • The history of the AOH lies not just in big cities but tracks America’s expansion West along the Lewis and Clark Trail (St Anne’s, Great Falls, MT), along the Cherokee trail (Sacred Heart, Pueblo, CO) and along side the Central Pacific Railroad from Ogden, UT (St. Joseph’s) to Sacramento, CA (Old Cathedral).
  • The march of the AOH across the continent stretches from first stop on the National Road (St Patrick’s, Cumberland, MD) to Seattle, WA (St James Cathedral) with lesser known stops along the way that have all but vanished…Hinckletown IA, Snoddy’s Mill, IN, Kalo, IA . Forty Fort, PA, Irwin, GA and Iron Mountain, MO.
  • Early history and growth of Hibernians is linked to mining for gold (Yreka, CA), copper and silver (Butte & Anaconda, MT), iron ore in Escanaba, MI (St Patrick’s) and Mt Pleasant, PA (St Joseph’s), hard rock mining (St Peter’s, Rutland, VT) and coal in Schuylkill CO, PA. where the infamous Molly Maguire trials were held
  • Hibernians shared meeting halls with other fraternal societies like the Foresters, Odd Fellows, Knights of Columbus, Knights of Pythias, and the GAR but were bitter opponents of the anti-Catholic and anti-Irish Know-Nothing ‘s who burned and attacked Catholic churches throughout the country.
  • Members of the AOH have included labor leaders Terrence Powderly and John Sweeney, Bishops John Lennon and Fulton Sheen, and John Cardinal O’Connor, astronaut James McDevitt, President John F. Kennedy, insurance industry leader Bill Flynn, actor Pat O’Brien, Civil War General Francis Meagher, and two recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor