Ancient Order of Hibernians

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Ancient Order of Hibernians
Ancient Order of Hibernians.png
Abbreviation AOH
Motto Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity
Formation 4 May 1836
Type Catholic
American fraternal order
Headquarters 31 Logan Street,
Auburn, New York,
United States
President Brendan Moore
Website www.aoh.com www.paaoh.com

The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) (Irish: Ord Ársa na nÉireannach) is an Irish Catholic fraternal organisation. Members must be Catholic and either Irish-born or of Irish descent. Its largest membership is now in the United States, where it was founded in New York City in 1836. Its name was adopted by groups of Irish immigrants in the United States,[1] its purpose to act as guards to protect Catholic churches from anti-Catholic forces in the mid-19th century, and to assist Irish Catholic immigrants, especially those who faced discrimination or harsh coal mining working conditions. Many members in the coal mining area of Pennsylvania had a background with the Molly Maguires. It became an important focus of Irish-American political activity.[1]

Ireland[edit]

The organisation had its roots in the Defenders and the Ribbonmen, Catholic agrarian movements of the 18th and 19th centuries.[2] It emerged in Ulster at the end of the 19th century in opposition to the Orange Order.[3] It was organised by Joseph Devlin of Belfast, who was Grandmaster by 1905.[4] The AOH was closely associated with the Irish Parliamentary Party, its members mainly members of the party.[5] It was strongly opposed to secular idologies such as those of the Irish Republican Brotherhood who were most unhappy at the re-emergence of this old rival "right-wing" nationalist society.[6]

From a membership of 5,000 in 1900, nearly all in Ulster, it climbed to 64,000 by 1909, complementing the United Irish League.[7] By 1914 the order had spread throughout the country, mainly because of its utility as a patronage, brokerage and recreational association.[8] As a vehicle for Irish nationalism, the AOH greatly influenced the sectarian aspect of Irish politics in the early twentieth century. In Ulster and elsewhere it acted as an unruly but vigorous militant support organisation for Devlin, Dillon and Redmond against radicals and against William O'Brien: O'Brien regarded himself as having been driven from the party by militant Hibernians at the "Baton Convention" of 1909.[9]

AOH 1911 plaque, Kanturk, Co Cork, Ireland

After the 1916 Easter Rising the organisation declined outside of Ulster, its members absorbed into Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Army.[10] In many areas the organisation provided by the AOH was the nearest thing to a paramilitary force. Many republican leaders in the 1916–1923 period, among them Sean MacDermott, J. J. Walsh and Rory O'Connor, had been "Hibs" before the formation of the Irish Volunteers in 1913.[11]

The AOH is also significant as a link between the new nationalist organisations and the century-old tradition of popular militant societies. More directly, it lingered on as a pro-Treaty support organisation. Some Hibernians fought in the Irish Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. The quasi-Fascist Blueshirts movement of the 1930s may, in fact, have owed as much to the Ribbon tradition which it so much resembled as it did to continental analogies.[12]

Within Northern Ireland, the AOH remains a visible but somewhat marginal part of the Catholic community. It parades at Easter, Lady Day and a few other times a year.

United States[edit]

St. James Church, New York City
Helena, Montana Chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians banner

The Order was founded in the United States on May 4, 1836, at St. James Church in New York City, near the old Five Points neighbourhood.[13] A branch was formed the same year at Pottsville, Pennsylvania.[14] The existence and activities of the Order were concealed for some years.

During the late 1860s and early 1870s many of the lodges of the order in Pennsylvania were infiltrated by the Molly Maguires. However the Molly Maguires and their criminal activities were condemned at the 1876 national convention of the AOH[15] and the Order was reorganised in the Pennsylvania coal areas.[16]

In 1884 there was a split in the organisation. The Order had previously been governed by the Board of Erin, which was governed the order in Ireland, Great Britain and the United States, but was composed of officers selected by exclusively by the organisations in Ireland and Great Britain. The majority left in 1884 and became the Ancient Order of Hibernians of America, while the small group called itself Ancient Order of Hibernians, Board of Erin. In 1897 the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Board of Erin had approximately 40,000 members concentrated in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan, while the Ancient Order of Hibernians of America had nearly 125,000 members scattered throughout nearly every state in the union. The two groups reunited in 1898.[17]

A female auxiliary, the Daughters of Erin, was formed in 1894, and had 20,000 members in 1897. It was attached to the larger, "American" version of the order.[18]

The AOH had 181,000 members in 1965 and 171,000 in 736 local units of "Divisions" in 1979.[19]

John F. Kennedy joined the AOH in 1947.[20]

The Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians (LAOH) raised $50,000 to build the Nuns of the Battlefield sculpture in Washington, D.C., which the United States Congress authorised in 1918.[21][22] The Irish-American sculptor, Jerome Connor, ended up suing the Order for non-payment.[21]

In 1982, in a revival of Hibernianism, the Thomas Francis Meagher Division No. 1 formed in Helena, Montana, dedicated to the principles of the Order and to restoring a historically accurate record of Meagher's contributions to Montana. Soon after, six additional divisions formed in Montana.[23]

The Brothers of St. Patrick Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America was established at Brother's of St. Patrick in Midway City, California, in 1995.[24]

In 2013, The Ancient Order of Hibernians raised and distributed over $200,000 to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy [25]

In 2014, the AOH called for a boycott of Spencer's Gifts, which it claimed promote anti-Irish stereotypes and irresponsible drinking.[26]

On May 10, 2014 a memorial to Commodore John Barry, an immigrant from Wexford who was a naval hero of the American Revolution and who holds commission number one in the subsequent U.S. Navy, was dedicated on the grounds of the United States Naval Academy. The memorial and associated "Barry Gate" was presented to the Academy by the members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians [27]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b David W. Miller Church, State and Nation in Ireland 1898–1921 pp. 209–15, Gill & Macmillan (1973) ISBN 0-7171-0645-4
  2. ^ MacDonald, Sharon (1993). Inside European Identities: Ethnography in Western Europe. Berg. p. 155. ISBN 0-85496-888-1. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  3. ^ MacDonald (1993), p. 156.
  4. ^ Rees, Russell (1998). Ireland, 1905–1925: Text and Historiography. Colourpoint. ISBN 1-898392-40-4. 
  5. ^ Garvin, Tom: The Evolution of Irish Nationalist Politics, The Rise of the Hibernians, pp.107–110, Gill and Macmillian Ltd. Dublin (2005) ISBN 0-7171-3967-0.
  6. ^ Garvin, Tom: p.106 lines 25–26, p.107 lines 2–4
  7. ^ Garvin, Tom: pp.107–108
  8. ^ Garvin, Tom: p.108, lines 12–14
  9. ^ Garvin, Tom: p.108, lines 28–32
  10. ^ Garvin, Tom: p.109, lines 24–25
  11. ^ Garvin, Tom: p.109, lines 33–35
  12. ^ Garvin, Tom: p.110, lines 12–22
  13. ^ About The AOH
  14. ^ AOH Pennsylvenia State Board: History
  15. ^ Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations Westport, CT; Greenwood Press p.158
  16. ^ Albert C. Stevens, Cyclopedia of Fraternities: A Compilation of Existing Authentic Information and the Results of Original Investigation as to the Origin, Derivation, Founders, Development, Aims, Emblems, Character, and Personnel of More Than Six Hundred Secret Societies in the United States New York: Treat, 1899, pp. 212–3
  17. ^ Stevens p.212
  18. ^ Stevens p.212
  19. ^ Schmidt p.158
  20. ^ Schmidt p.158
  21. ^ a b Save Outdoor Sculpture! (1993). "Nuns of the Battlefield, (sculpture)". SOS!. Smithsonian. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  22. ^ Jacob, Kathryn Allmong. Testament to Union: Civil War monuments in Washington, Part 3. JHU Press, 1998, p. 125-126
  23. ^ http://www.hibernian.org/helena/index.html
  24. ^ Benjamin Epstein (December 1998). "Willkommen! Bienvenuto! However you say it, if you've got a longing for that old county, join the club". Orange Coast Magazine (Emmis Communications) 24 (12): 129. ISSN 0279-0483. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  25. ^ http://www.canarsiecourier.com/news/2013-04-18/Other_News/National_Hibernians_Lend_A_Hand_To_Local_Divisions.html
  26. ^ Massive Irish American effort to end insulting St. Patrick’s Day gifts, Irishcentral.com, February 22, 2014
  27. ^ http://www.capitalgazette.com/all_yours/your_news/my-time-naval-academy-dedicates-new-john-barry-memorial/article_3be15e07-80a0-50fc-94b9-2a98903e85a9.html

Reading[edit]

  • Tom Garvin: The Evolution of Irish Nationalist Politics Gill & Macmillan (2005) ISBN 0-7171-3967-0 : Pages 105–110: The Rise of the Hibernians.
  • Prof. R.V. Comerford: Ireland Inventing the Nation (Hodder 2003).

External links[edit]