About the AOH (Ancient Order of Hibernians)
The Ancient Order of Hibernians is a Catholic, Irish American Fraternal Organization founded in New York City on the 4th of 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. While the organizations share a similar origin, the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America is a separate and larger organization.
The Order evolved from a need in the early 1700’s to protect the lives of Irish Catholics and their priests who risked immediate death in keeping the Catholic faith alive in Ireland under the “Penal Laws”, which outlawed the practice of Catholicism as part of English colonial oppression and the general suppression of Irish culture. During those “Penal Times”, various secret social societies were formed across Ireland to aid and comfort the people by whatever means available. Similarly, the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America was in 1836 at New York’s St. James Church, to protect Irish Catholics, their clergy and church property from the nativist “Know Nothings” and their bigoted followers who targeted immigrants. Shortly thereafter, a vast influx of Irish migrants fleeing the “Great Hunger” in Ireland during the late 1840’s prompted the growth of various social societies in the United States – the largest of which was the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Active across the United States, the Order’s many Divisions and club facilities have traditionally been among the first to welcome new Irish Americans. Here, Irish culture — art, dance, music, language and sports are fostered and preserved. Newcomers as well as the American-born Irish are introduced to the social atmosphere of the Irish -American community and learn about their rich heritage. The AOH has been at the political forefront relative to issues concerning the Irish, such as immigration reform, economic incentives both here and in Ireland international human rights issues, the right to life and a peaceful and just solution to the issues which divide Ireland.
In these ways, the Order provides a continuing bridge with Ireland for those who are newly arrived and the American Irish who are generations removed from that country. The AOH sponsors many programs associated with promoting our Irish Heritage such as the “Irish Way Program”.
You are very welcome to seek further information and admittance to this venerable Irish Catholic organization — all we would ask is for you to live our motto of:
“Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity”
Dia’s Muire dhuit! (“God and Mary to You” – the Irish reply to “Dia dhuit” – ‘God to You’, which is the Irish way of saying “hello”, i.e., with a prayer and a blessing and the same in return.)