ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS DIVISION 17
The Ancient Order of Hibernians was organized in the United States in the year 1836. The Order had its inception in Allegheny county in 1659 and Division 17, Wilmerding was chartered in September, 1892.
The Division officers at that tlme were Michael J. Carroll, president; James J. Craddock, vice president; William McElligott, recording secretary; John Quinlan, financial secretary. John O’Keefe, treasurer; Rev. Michael H. Ward, chaplain.
Rev. Ward was pastor of St. Aloysius Church on Marguerite Avenue. The Division meetings were held there at 3:00 PM on the last Sunday of the month. The records show that Father Ward was a dues paying member. They also allude to his oratorical ability, unflinching courage and indomitable patriotism. He was well known throughout the County and State having held chaplaincies at each level.
Meetings were moved from St. Aloysius sometime around 1917 to the Liberty Hotel then to the meeting rooms over the East Pittsburgh National Bank Building (now Mellon’s). In the ensuing years moves were made to accommodate the growing membership. In 1951 we moved to 5 Caldwell Avenue which was our home for 20 years. In 1971 our building was sold to the Urban Redevelopment Department. We then, through the courtesy of the Wilmerding Fire Department, used their meeting room until 1980 when we moved to our present location.
There are many, many of our fellow citizens who have no idea of what a Hibernian is, yes, this may even be said of some of our fraternal members. Too many people think of the AOH as a social club. Admittedly the social facet of our life and well-being is a concern to all of us. We Hibernians have several more sides among them religious, civic, history, educational and charitable. Few know of our contributions to the early Irish when classes in civics, English, mathematics and history were taught in order that they might get their citizenship papers.
first two are well understood. Charity is one about which we do very little talking, so I must tell you that we have been at the forefront in aiding those made homeless in the Italian earthquakes. the floods in Johnstown, the tidal waves in Chile, Galveston, and Charleston. We sponsor chairs of learning at Catholic University and the University of Notre Dame. Columbian Fathers participate in our charity fund.
The divisions were centers for keeping alive Irish nationality and Irish ideals; in addition to caring for the sick, the weak and defenseless. They worked toward correcting false impressions which were spread rampant by an alien government to justify its savage oppression of our people. Working through educational centers the Irish were able to lower those barriers which had long been raised against us.
Our motto “Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity” is a tradition in the Order. The Cardinal O’Connell once said “The Ancient Order is endeavoring to perpetuate in America the spirit of your Catholic ancestors, love of God and love of country – your adopted land and Erin”.
What an opportunity and privilege, then, does membership offer to every man of Irish heritage.
Edward J. Deenihan, Chairman (deceased 2015) l00th Anniversary Committee September 26. 1992