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What is the Ancient Order of Hibernians In America?

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!


  • The Order awards the prestigious John F. Kennedy and Sean MacBride Awards to outstanding individuals.
  • The Order donates millions of dollars annually to charitable causes and provides thousands more each year in scholarships through our National, State, County Boards and Divisions.
  • The AOH established the first chair of Celtic Studies at Catholic University in 1894.
  • The AOH has recognized Commodore John Barry as Father of the American Navy and has established September 13 as a national holiday of the Order.
  • The AOH has recognized the valuable contributions of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians to our Order, the Catholic Church and the Columbian Mission Fathers.
  • The AOH has sponsored and supported Feisanna, as well as traditional Irish music, and song.
  • The AOH has recognized, honored and supported Irish-American achievement in theatre, education, law, medicine, and the arts.
  • The AOH has encouraged tourism to our ancestral homeland, Ireland.
  • The Order has supported the Gaelic Athletic Association and the traditional ancient sporting games of Ireland.
  • The AOH, through monetary, political and other means, has vigorously supported humanitarian and civil rights works
  • The AOH has recognized the contributions of the Irish in the American Civil War through history, lectures, films and monuments.
  • The AOH has assisted in the reforesting of Ireland through the Trees for Ireland program.
  • The Order has fostered the instilling of our Irish culture, history and traditions in our youth through the AOH Irish Way Scholarship Program for the sons and daughters of our members.
  • The AOH has recognized the contributions of Irish-Americans and Irish-born who have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and has erected a monument to their memory at the Valley Forge Medal of Honor Grove.
  • The AOH, being composed of loyal Americans, has recognized July 4 as one of the legal holidays of the Order.
  • The AOH consistently promotes and attempts to encourage the learning and usage of our ancient language, Irish Gaelic.
  • The AOH recognizes March 17 as one of the legal holidays of the Order, thus preserving the teachings and ideals of Saint Patrick and the Catholic Church.
  • The AOH, through its' many monetary donations to various charitable societies in Ireland, has shown that the motto of our Order, 'Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity,' is as important and relevant today as it was in 1836 when our Order was first founded in America.
  • Co-sponsored and commissioned a monument in Ennistymon, County Clare, to victims of the Great Hunger.
  • Assistance in cases of bias and bigotry through the vigilance of a national anti-defamation committee.


             New leadership of the AOH/LAOH of Orange County
Pictured above from left to right are Mick O’Keefe, immediate past AOH Orange County Board President, Doris Gildea, LAOH St. Brigid Division President, Dan Murphy, AOH Orange County Board President, and Jeraldine O’Keefe, immediate past LAOH St. Brigid Division President. Please show your continued support and commitment for the incoming leadership of our Order. Many thanks and appreciation to Mick O’Keefe, and Jeraldine O’Keefe for your guidance over the years (1998-2000).


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