Ancient Order of Hibernians

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Ancient Order of Hibernians
Ancient Order of Hibernians.png
AbbreviationAOH
MottoFriendship, Unity and Christian Charity
Formation4 May 1836
TypeCatholic
American fraternal order
Headquarters31 Logan Street,
Auburn, New York,
United States
PresidentBrendan Moore
Websitewww.aoh.com
 
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Ancient Order of Hibernians
Ancient Order of Hibernians.png
AbbreviationAOH
MottoFriendship, Unity and Christian Charity
Formation4 May 1836
TypeCatholic
American fraternal order
Headquarters31 Logan Street,
Auburn, New York,
United States
PresidentBrendan Moore
Websitewww.aoh.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 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 in the United States was founded in New York City 4 May 1836 at St. James Church[13] located near the old Five Points neighbourhood. Its existence and activities 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[14] and the Order was reorganised in the Pennsylvania coal areas.[15]

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 US, 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.[16]

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.[17]

The AOH had 181,000 members in 1965 and 171,000 in 736 local units of "Divisions" in 1979.[18]

John F. Kennedy joined the AOH in 1947.[19]

St. Patrick's Day Parade controversy[edit]

The ban on LGBT messages at the A.C.O.H.'s St. Patrick's Day parade in New York City has led to criticism and boycotts in recent years. In 2011, Ireland's foreign minister, Eamon Gilmore, said "Exclusion is not an Irish thing" while visiting the city.[24] Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a lesbian and granddaughter of Irish immigrants, decided not to march in the 2013 parade during her mayoral campaign.[25]

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. ^ Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations Westport, CT; Greenwood Press p.158
  15. ^ 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
  16. ^ Stevens p.212
  17. ^ Stevens p.212
  18. ^ Schmidt p.158
  19. ^ Schmidt p.158
  20. ^ a b Save Outdoor Sculpture! (1993). "Nuns of the Battlefield, (sculpture)". SOS!. Smithsonian. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  21. ^ Jacob, Kathryn Allmong. Testament to Union: Civil War monuments in Washington, Part 3. JHU Press, 1998, p. 125-126
  22. ^ http://www.hibernian.org/helena/index.html
  23. ^ 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. 
  24. ^ "Leading NYC mayoral contender will sit out St. Patrick's Day parade over ongoing gay ban". NJ.com. March 15, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Irish Foreign Minister criticises ban on gays in St.Patrick’s Parade". Irish Central. March 17, 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 

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