The Ancient Order of Hibernians is America’s oldest Irish Catholic fraternal organization. It was founded in 1836. The AOH traces its roots back to similar societies in Ireland that existed for more than 300 years.

The early Irish societies were created to protect Irish Catholics. Because of the Penal Laws of 1691, Irish Catholics (especially clergy) risked their lives to keep the Catholic faith alive in occupied Ireland. These secret societies were formed across the country to help the faithful Irish people. In the same way, the Ancient Order of Hibernians was created in New York at St. James Church on May 4, 1836. The founders modeled the AOH after the earlier secret societies. The goal of the AOH was to protect the clergy and faithful Catholics from anyone who attacked Irish immigrants and Church property. Over time, the vast number of Irish immigrants feeling the Great Hunger in Ireland prompted the growth of many Irish societies in the United States. The largest of these was (and continues to be) the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Today, the AOH fosters and preserves Irish culture – art, dance, music, and sports – throughout the United States. It provides a home for Irish-Americans and welcomes Irish immigrants. The AOH contributes to local communities through scholarships, volunteer work, and education. And it advocates on issues concerning Irish-Americans such as immigration reform, human rights including the right to life, and a peaceful and just solution to issues that divide Ireland. The AOH in Alexandria, Virginia hosts a wide range of events, supports the community through volunteering and donations, and provides a community for Irish-Americans in Virginia.

To learn more about the Ancient Order of Hibernians please vist the AOH National website. To join the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Alexandria, Virginia click here.