History of the ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS in Ireland


History of the ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS in Ireland

Written by Thomas F. McGrath, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 1898
Edited by Brother Greg Seán Canning, Kissimmee, Florida, USA, 2013

Early Beginnings

Edmund Burke

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, as its name indicates, is a society composed exclusively of Irishmen by birth or descent, and practical Roman Catholics, organized in Ireland for the preservation of the Catholic Church and the protection of the priest and schoolmaster, who were hunted like wolves, with a price set upon their heads and those who would grant them a shelter or refuge. Edmund Burke said: “Of these days of persecution and suffering, that the ingenuity of the human intellect never devised an instrument so calculated to exterminate a race or degrade a nation as the system of British tyranny did to the Irish people.”

There has been a great deal said as to when and where the Ancient Order of Hibernians was first organized. Some authorities place it at 1642, when Pope Urban VIII sent his blessing to the Irish people and encouraged them in their fight for God and country. It is also given in 1651, in Connaught, after Cromwell’s infamous edict of “To Connaught or to Hell.”

Pope Urban VIII

The History of the Ancient Order of Hibernians is practically the history of Ireland, as its members took an active part in all the struggles and efforts of the old Celtic Chiefs to throw off the hated Saxon yoke. According to such authorities as MacGeoghegan’s and Mitchell’s, Wright’s, Leekey’s, O’Holleran’s, and Robinson’s History of Ireland, the Ancient Order of Hibernians was organized in 1565 by Rory Oge O’Moore in the county of Kildare, Province of Leinster, Ireland. In 1565 the Earl of Sussex issued a proclamation establishing a penalty of death for any priest found in the Province of Leinster. It was then that Rory Oge O’Moore organized the Defenders. He made arrangements with the clergy to erect rude altars in the mountain fastnesses for the people to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Without printed constitutions or a code of laws for their guidance they met together, not in gilded and upholstered halls with rich carpets, but in the mountain fastnesses with the canopy of heaven for a shelter and the stars as their only guide to the trysting place. Strong hands grasped in friendship and true hearts beating in unison (bound together by sacred ties and untied for a common purpose) they resolved to resist to the utmost every encroachment of despotism upon the liberties and rights of people and pledged eternal friendship, hallowed by their country’s misfortune. Rory sent out fleet-footed and trusted men to inform the Catholics of the country where the priest would hold the next Mass. He placed sentinels on the hilltops to give warning to the people of approaching sacrilegious intruders. Those sentinels stood on the hills and mountains while the winter winds howled and moaned around them, with the sleet cutting into their unprotected faces.

They also found a place to shelter the hunted priest. Sometimes it would be in an isolated cabin in the mountain’s glens, where he would be welcome with a Céad Míle Fáilte regardless of the danger incurred for a harboring a priest. But often it would be in the cold dismal caves of the mountains.

A Fiendish Plot to Murder Chief Families of Irish Clans

Sir Francis Cosby

In 1577 Sir Francis Cosby, commanding Queen Elizabeth’s troops in Leix (Laois) and Offaly, concocted a fiendish plot to murder the chief families of the Irish clans with the full knowledge and approval of Sir Henry Sidney, the Lord Deputy of Ireland. Cosby feigned great friendship for the Irish and invited them to a grand feast in the rath (a strong circular earthen wall forming an enclosure and serving as a fort and residence for a tribal chief) of Mullaghmast. The O’Nolans, O’Kellys, O’Moores, and others responded to the invitation. As they entered the rath they were seized and butchered by the blood-thirsty English. One hundred and eighty (180) of O’Moore’s kinsmen were massacred that day. Rory Oge O’Moore tracked Cosby and his minions with a sword of vengeance. When they least expected, Rory swooped down upon them with fire and sword and exacted a terrible revenge. Cosby was slain at the Yellow Ford near Armagh during the bloody battle of Glenmalure. The avenging sword of the Defenders sought out Cosby and swiftly sent him before his God to answer for his crimes. With the red flag of England in the dust, Lord Gray de Wilton and his Saxon army fled from the terrible charge of the Irish under the command of Feach McHugh O’Bryine of Ballinacor.

Irish Rath 1

Rory O'Moore

Following the death of Rory, Donald O’Driscoll was elected chief of the Defenders. He continued to protect the priests and harass the Red Coats until December 24, 1594. With six of his men, O’Driscoll escorted the Rev. Father O’Connor to the trysting place near Bray in County Wicklow to celebrate the midnight Mass. They were surprised by a company of English soldiers. After a bloody fight, Donald and his companions were killed. Donald’s head was taken across the sea and placed on a spike at the Tower of London. Thus died the founders of the Ancient Order of Hibernians – fighting for church and country.

Donald was succeeded by Owen O’Moore, son of Rory, who continued in the same line as his father. He also assisted the old Celtic chiefs in their efforts to drive the British tyrants out of Ireland. Owen was with Hugh O’Neil at the siege of Armagh on August 10, 1595, when the Defenders distinguished themselves by their bravery at the battle of Clontribet. As a token of merit they were detailed by O’Neil to lay siege to Porteloise, a fort held by the English in Leix. After a five days’ siege the fort surrendered. The Defenders now joined O’Neil in the attack on Portmore Castle and continued with him until he drove the English and Scotch from the north and west of Ireland. The people of the north and west enjoyed two years of peace and prosperity under O’Neil’s government.

However in 1601 Queen Elizabeth sent the butcher, Sir Peter Carew, to Ireland as Lord President. With the view of breaking O’Neil’s power, Carew presented to O’Connor forged letters from Earl Desmondstating that Desmond was offering to betray his confederate, O’Connor. Carew, with an offer of friendship and a thousand pounds, encouraged O’Connor to turn against Desmond and hand him over to the English as a prisoner. This O’Connor did. Carew next induced Nial Garv O’Donnell and Art O’Neil to take up arms against Hugh O’Neil. Carew, having the Irish divided, placed himself at the head of British troops and put every man, woman and child to the sword, not even sparing the innocent babe in its mother’s arms.

With Ireland under the dominion of the English once more, the Defenders took to the mountains to defy England and her hirelings. Owen now commenced to increase the membership of his organization by uniting with other Irishmen, who like himself, refused to submit to British rule in Ireland. Branches sprung up all over the northern and western parts of the country. They became known by different names, such as Tories, Rapparees, Defenders, etc.

The Capture and Death of Owen O’Moore

England offered large rewards for the capture of Owen O’Moore, dead or alive. He continued to defy them until he was captured through the treachery of the traitor Corney Doyle, on the night of May 12th. Owen and Captain O’Brien were returning to their rendezvous after leaving Father O’Roarke in the cabin of a friend. They were fired upon by British soldiers, who lay in ambush awaiting their return. O’Brien was killed instantly, while Owen was dangerously wounded and taken prisoner. Two days later he was taken before a magistrate and given a hurried trial, after which he was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. He was executed on the morning of May 16, 1619, four days after his arrest.


The Defenders continued under different leaders from the death of Owen until they became part of an oath-bound organization, known as the Confederation of Kilkenny. In 1641, the prelates and laymen of the church issued a proclamation calling upon all Catholics to take the oath. Sir Phelim O’Neil was appointed to the command of the old Irish, who were tall and huge of frame. Lords Gormanstown and Mountgarret had charge of the Anglo-Irish, who were weak and low of stature. The Lords of the pale (Anglo-Irish) were the descendants of Strongbow and other adventurers, who invaded Ireland beginning in 1169. At the time of the Reformation, they stood true to the Roman Catholic Church. Hence they were known as the Gentry of the Pale.

Formation of a National GovernmentRichard Coote

The Lords of the Pale now became convinced that their kindly feeling towards England could no longer protect them when their tenants on their own estates were being mobbed and murdered by the blood-thirsty demon Richard Coote, 1st Earl of Bellomont. Coote would smile and become facetious when an infant was writhing on the pike of a soldie. His barbarities in Wicklow are beyond description and his threats of not leaving a Catholic in Ireland alive began to gain some truth. Finglas, Clontarf and Santry were scenes of the most wanton and brutal murders.

The Pale

Thus, the old Celtic Irish and the Lords of the Pale met on the Hill of Crofty in county Meath. There, they took a solemn vow to bury into oblivion the feuds and dissension’s which had for 400 years wasted their strength and left them a prey to the designs and hatred of the common enemy. Delegates were elected to attend the National Synod in the City of Kilkenny on October 14, 1642. This meeting became the first annual meeting of the Federation. Present at this meeting were eleven spiritual and fourteen temporal peers and 226 commoners, representing the Catholics in Ireland. Lord Mountgarret was chosen president at the annual meeting. Six people were chosen as delegates, representing each province.


* FOR MUNSTER: The Viscount Roche, Edmund Fitzmaurice, Sir Daniel O’Brien, Robert Lambert, Dr. Fennell and George Comyn.
* FOR ULSTER: The Archbishop of Armagh, the Bishop of Down, Colonel Hugh McMahon, Philip O’Reilly, Heber McGinnis and Turlough O’Neil.
* FOR CONNAUGHT: The bishop of Clonfert, the Viscount Mayo, and the Archbishop of Tuam, Sir Lucas Dillon, Patrick Darcy and George Brown.
* FOR LEINSTER: The Archbishop of Dublin, Nicholas Plunkett, Richard Belling, James Cusack, Lords Gormanstown and Mountgarret.

Those delegates represented four-fifths of the people of Ireland. They formed the National Government under whose legislature the Catholics struggled for three years against bigoted and tyrannical England for the right to worship God according to their conscience. Irish Catholics adhered to the faith of their ancestors, taught them by the holy St. Patrick, and defied the British government of its hirelings in their prosecutions and land confiscation’s.

King Charles I

Charles I

By 1642, the Defenders lost their identity as a national organization. They became part of the Confederationists and were assigned to the command of Phelim O’Neil. Pope Urban VIII sent Father Scarampi with a purse of $30,000 and his blessing to the Irish Catholics. King Charles I, became alarmed at the actions of the Irish and decided to seek peace with. He appointed the Marquis of Ormond as peace commissioner, urging him to use all his powers in diplomacy (treachery) to bring the Irish to terms. At the first conference held in Ormond’s Camp at Sigginstown (September 15, 1643), a compromise treaty was effected as follows:

* First: The Catholics of Ireland are to enjoy the free and public exercise of their religion.
* Second: They are to hold and have secured to them all Catholic churches not now in the hands of the Protestants.
*Third: The Catholics shall be exempt from the jurisdiction of the Protestant clergy.
* Fourth: The Catholics agree to send 10,000 men to assist King Charles at Chester.

The old Celtic Chiefs were forced to accept the terms. The Lords of the Pale threatened to leave the Federation and take up arms for King Charles if the terms were rejected. Mr. Nugent Robinson, in referring to the treaty says: “The Irish, by signing the treaty of Sigginstown, lost their golden opportunity. The tide which set in so gloriously for the Irish independence rolled back it sobbing waves slowly and sadly toward the English coast and has never since returned with the same hopeful freedom and overpowering strength.”

Following the Treaty

Before 1644, the English ruthlessly and dishonorably violated the treaty and the persecutions of the Catholics continued with increased vigor and hatred. On October 21 of 1645, John Baptist Rinuccini, the envoy of Pope Innocent X, landed in Kenmare Bay with war supplies (2000 muskets, 2000 pike heads, etc) sent by Father Luke Wadding. The supplies and arms were sent to Owen Roe O’Neil, urging him to strike another blow for God and Country.

O’Neil was not slow in accepting the invitation, for on June 1 of 1646, he marched with 5,000 foot soldiers and 400 horsemen and attacked General Monroe in Armagh. Monroe, having a much superior force than O’Neil, came forth to give battle on the morning of June 5th. O’Neil kept him engaged for four hours, when Monroe resolved to retreat to Armagh. Own Roe, seeing the advantage gained, gave the command to charge. With the cry of vengeance the Irish dashed down upon the enemy and after a fierce and bloody struggle the English fled, leaving 3,000 dead upon the field. Monroe fled so precipitately that he left his hat, sword and cloak upon the field. Irish loses were 70 killed and 200 wounded. Thus ended the battle of Benburb, a glorious victory for Church and Country.

Oliver Cromwell

Owen Roe O’Neill died suddenly at Cloughoughter Castle, County Cavan, on November 6, 1649. His death took place while on his march south against Oliver Cromwell, who had landed in Ireland on August 14, 1649. The murders and massacres that followed from the siege at Drogheda to Hugh Dubh O’Neil’s evacuation of Clonmel were ferocious, savage and brutal. On and after September 11, 1654, rewards of five pound sterling were offered for a priest’s or wolf’s head. Any person giving shelter to a priest should suffer death and the loss of their property. Any person knowing the place of concealment of a priest and not disclosing it to the authorities was publicly was publicly whipped and suffered loss of both ears. Everything that the ingenuity of the human intellect could devise was resorted to crush the Irish people and stamp out the existence of the Catholic Church of Ireland.

A.M. Sullivan in his splendid work, the Story of Ireland, quoting from Cassel’s History of Ireland, says: “The eighteenth century was the era of persecution in which the law did the work of the sword. Having no rights or franchise; no legal protection of life or property; disqualified to handle a gun even as a common soldier or a gamekeeper; forbidden even to acquire the elements of knowledge at home or abroad; forbidden even to render to God what conscience dictated as his due; what could the Irish be but abject serfs? Is it not amazing that any social virtue could have survived such an ordeal? That any seed of good, any roots of national greatness could have outlived such a long tempestuous winter?”

The Penal Laws

In 1695 the following laws were enacted under Lord Capel:penal_laws_01

* Catholic gentlemen were fined 60 pounds ($300.00) for absence from Protestant form of worship.
* They were forbidden to travel five miles from their houses, to keep arms, and to maintain suits at law.
* Any four justices of the peace could without further trial banish any man for life, if he refused Protestant services.
* Any two justices of the peace could call any man over 16 years of age before them, and if they refused to renounce the Catholic religion, they could bestow his property to his next of kin.
* No Catholic could employ a Catholic schoolmaster to educate his children, and if he sent his child abroad for education, he was fined 100 pounds ($500), and the child could not inherit any property either in England or Ireland.
* Any Catholic priest who came to the country should be hanged.
* Any Protestant suspecting another Protestant of holding property in trust for any Catholic, might file against the suspected trustee, and take his property from him.
* Any Protestant might take away the horse of a Catholic, no matter how valuable, by simply paying five pounds ($25.00).
* Any Catholic gentlemen’s child, no matter how young, by becoming a Protestant could take possession of his father’s estate and property, and have a guardian appointed.
* Any Protestant seeing a Catholic tenant on a farm that in his opinion yielded one-third more than the yearly rent, could, by swearing on the same, take possession of the farm.
* Horses and wagons belonging to Catholics were in all cases to be seized for the use of the militia.

Penal Mass

Those were days that tried men’s souls when the sons and daughters of Erin would steal into the mountain glens and valleys under the cover of night to be present for the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There they kneeled in prayer while the cold winter winds howled and shrieked around them. The Defenders (to which the AOH traces its origin) stood as sentinels to give warning of the approach of the bandogs of the law who were seeking the head of a priest that they might claim the five pounds reward offered by the English government.

On one occasion, a congregation of Roman Catholics were assembled in a church in Dublin. The Protestant justices, hearing of it, dispatched to the chapel a host of sacrilegious ruffians of whom the leaders were the archbishop, the mayor and the recorder of Dublin. They entered the Church in the midstof divine service, dragged the priest from the altar, hacked and hewed the sacred images and other ornaments. Like common robbers, they purloined the crucifixes, copes and chalices and other valuables.

The Continued Persecution of Irish Catholics

Matters continued in this condition until 1745, when Irish Catholics were granted the right of public worship. Priests and friars went around unmolested, enjoying a freedom they were denied for over a century. Although the penalty of death for being a priest was withdrawn and the right granted to the people to worship God in public, persecutions of the Catholics continued for over a hundred years longer.

The Defenders now turned their attention to the persecuted farmer, who was evicted from his holding on every pretext that the ingenuity of the agent of an absentee landlord could devise. The farm was turned into pastureland to raise cattle for the English market. The unfortunate farmer was driven to squat upon the bogs and marshes, trying to raise a crop upon the cut-away bogs and trying to make soil by scraping down the barren rock from the mountainside. The condition of the peasantry was most pitiable. The little plots of potato ground were let at a rental of six pounds sterling per acre. However, this was not paid in coin; it was worked out at the rate of six pence per day. For one acre of potato ground, a man had to work 240 days for the landlord. This left him 73 days to toil for himself and family, pay the tithe to the Protestant clergyman and contribute to the support of the parish priest.


The Defenders organized branches throughout the north and west of Ireland. Their object was the protection of the laborer in his wages and to prevent, wherever possible, the ejectment of farmers from their holdings. The Irish farmers were unable to pay oppressive rents and tithes. They were also unable to prevent land grabbing and the putting of farms and houses up to the highest bidder. In 1760, kindred organizations made their appearance in the south of Ireland, known as White Boys, Levelers, etc. The country was in a deplorable condition. Farmers were evicted with their families. Without industries or other resources, they were unable to procure their existence.

Committees were appointed by the British parliament to inquire into the cause of Irish disturbances. A great deal of the disturbance arose about the rents. The land during war years was set very high in most parts of Ireland, while in peace there was a great reduction in the price of produce. The landlords were proceeding to distress the tenantry by demanding high rents which the produce of the land did not enable them to pay. This caused a number of persons to be turned out of their farms and from that arose a number of outrages from distressed tenants.

Sir George Cornewall Lewis traced the rise of Irish rebellion to the miserable condition of the Irish peasantry, their inability to pay the land rent, and their anxiety to retain possession of land which is to them a necessary of life, the alternative being starvation. With the dread of this alternative before their eyes, it is not to be wondered at their desperate efforts to avert it.

The wretched condition of the mass of the Irish peasantry, their inability to obtain employment for hire and their consequent dependence on land, drove them to a system of self-defense against ejectment. It isnatural that the most improvident person should seek to struggle against such fearful consequences as these, that they should try to use some means of quieting apprehensions which would themselves be sufficient to embitter the life of the most thoughtless; and it is to afford this security that the Ribbon combinations were formed.

The Ribbonmen’s association may be considered as a vast trades’ union for the protection of the Irish peasantry. The object being not to regulate the rate of wages or the hours of work, but to keep the actual occupant in the possession of his land. In general, to regulate the relations between landlord and tenant for the benefit of the latter.

The Rise of the Orangemen

In 1771, the Steel Boys made their appearance in the north of Ireland. They were the predecessors of the Orangemen. In 1780 came the Protestant and Peep O’Day Boys. In 1795 came the Orangemen. The British government looked upon every Irish Catholic as being a rebel and treated him as such. The magistrates encouraged Orangemen in their persecutions of the Catholics. They burned their houses, murdered the occupants, wrecked their churches and desecrated their altars. The Catholics were driven from the place of their birth. They, in-turn, were arrested and punished for crimes committed by the Orangemen.

Such unheard of cruelty and unmitigated acts of barbarity, as was practiced by judges and Orangemen, are without parallel in the annals of any country in Christendom, save Ireland in the days of Elizabeth and Cromwell. It is absurd to imagine that justice could be fairly administered when the administration of justice was in the hands of Orangemen, who were opposed to everything Roman Catholic and are sworn to do all in their power to exterminate the Papist of Ireland. Yet the Catholics were expected to be loyal to a government, which not only deprived them of their civil rights but placed the execution of the laws in the hands of their bitterest enemies.

It now became necessary that Catholics should unite for self-preservation against the common enemy. The Defenders of the north and the White Boys of the south joined hands and adopted the name Ribbonmen. They used two pieces of ribbon as the symbol of their organization – green and red. The green denoted unity, and the red blood for blood. This organization rendered valuable aid to the unfortunate Catholic, who fell short in his rent.

homeless woman

The Orangemen posted notices on the doors of Catholic families ordering them to leave the place. If they did not leave at the time specified on the notice the Orangemen would assemble at night, burn down the houses and force the families to flee for their lives. The Orangemen, encouraged by the magistrates, continued their hellish pastime of burnings and murdering. In 1796 they either murdered or drove from their homes in the county of Armagh, 7,000 people. The wretched people had no place of shelter to flee to. Some of them took to the mountains; others were put in prison and died. The young men were packed off to the seaport and drafted on board of an English man-o’-war. Is it any wonder that the Ribbonmen held midnight meetings and devised plans by which they would protect themselves from murdered and the hirelings of a bigoted government, who advocated the extermination of the Papist by fire and sword? In 1808, during the administration of the Duke of Richmond, a party of Orangemen fired into an assemblage of Catholic men, women and children who were enjoying themselves around a garland pole at Corinshiga, a mile and a half from the town of Newry. One man by the name of McKeown was killed and several wounded. One of the magistrates, a Mr. Waring, sent the depositions of the Catholics to the officials in Dublin, asking the government to issue a proclamation offering a reward for the apprehension of the murderers. The secretary, Mr. Traill, replied that the government declined to take any steps in the matter.

In July of the same year the Orangemen murdered the Rev. Father Duane at Mountrath. In 1809 they murdered a Mr. Kavanagh in his own house, beating out his brains in the presence of his wife and children. Again at Baliesborough in the county of Cavan, the Orangemen attacked the house of the parish priest, fired several shots and left the priest for dead. Not satisfied with this they wrecked the chapel and insulted and wounded every Catholic that they met that day. Still the government refused to take any steps to protect the Catholics or punish the guilty Orangemen. Is it any wonder that the Ribbonmen sometimes took the law into their own hands and retaliated on those miscreants who were encouraged in their acts of crime against the Catholics by the government?

Edmund Burke says the crimes of the English against the Irish people may justly be regarded as one of the blackest pages in the history of persecutions. Again, in speaking of the disturbed condition of the country, he says: “these rebellions were not produced by toleration, but by persecutions. They arose not from just and mild government, but from the most unparalleled oppressions.”

The Ancient Order of Hibernians (The Ribbonmen)

After one hundred and sixty years of penal laws and persecutions, God, as if by miracle, preserved the faith, virtue, vitality and power of the Irish race. Branches of the Ribbonmen began to spring up in England and Scotland under the names of the Hibernians Society and the Hibernia Sick and Funeral Society, as the name Ribbonmen was outlawed by the British government. In 1825, the name in Ireland changed from the Ribbonmen to that of St. Patrick’s Fraternal Society. It is not to be supposed that all these changes took place in harmony, as there were a large number of the members who rebelled against those changes and withdrew from the order and continued under the name of the Mollie McGuires and Ribbonmen, especially in the county Antrim.

In those days one hundred pounds were offered by the English government to any person who would give private information where a body of Ribbonmen might be found. Although the Irish were poor and crushed by the minions of England, there was not one among them who would be Judas enough to take the blood money offered by a blood-thirsty government.


This grand and noble society cemented its members together in the bonds of friendship, unity and true Christian charity. There were no sick benefits connected with the order at that time. But the members were at all times to assist each other in every way possible when a member would arrive in England orScotland and had either a traveling card or the password and sign. If he was in distress he would receive immediate aid from the brothers he would meet. As each district pro parish master, as they were then called, had on hand a fund of money from which he would assist the members who were in distress. There was work found for the new arrival. He was made to feel that he was a member of an organization that had for its object friendship, unity and true Christian charity.

The men who organized, fought and died for the Ancient Order of Hibernians are gone, but their memory still lives. Star after star sinks and leaves darker the gloom which lowers over the land of the shamrock – the country that produced a Swift, Burke, Grattan, Flood, Curran, Goldsmith, Davis, Sterne, Moore, Emmet, Wolfe Tone, Fitzgerald, Saarsfield, Montgomery, O’Connell, Mitchell, Meagher, Parnell, Biggar, Sexton, Griffin, Davitt, Daly, Sir Charles Russell, and a bright galaxy of illustrious characters. A country which has furnished almost every nation in Christendom with the statesmen and warriors, driven from their native soil by lordly despotism, rampant injustice and religious intolerance. A land which has produced the men on whom the destinies of Europe often depended in the field and in the cabinet.

The people and the peoples’ leaders are passing away, but the Ancient Order of Hibernians continue to grow and assist the Catholic Church in her onward march for the salvation of mankind. Wherever the A.O.H. may be established, there you will find its members as missionaries aiding the sick and those of their race when in distress.

 AOH Button

The Establishment of

The Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

In 1836, some Hibernian members who had immigrated to America wished to organize a branch of the order in New York City. They communicated their desires to their brothers in Ireland and in June received the following instructions from the Hibernians in Ireland to wit:

“Brothers, greetings – be it known to you and all it may concern, that we send to our brothers in New York full instructions with our authority to establish branches of our society in America. The qualification for membership must be as follows:

First – All members must be Roman Catholic and Irish or Irish descent, and of good and moral character, and none of your members shall join in any secret societies contrary to the laws of the Catholic Church, and at all times and at all places your motto shall be: “FRIENDSHIP, UNITY AND TRUE CHRISTIAN CHARITY.”

You must love without dissimulation, hating evil, cleaving good. Love one another with brotherly love, without preventing one another, let the love of brotherhood abide in you, and forget not hospitality to your emigrant brother that may land upon your shores, and we advise you, above all things, have natural charity among yourselves.

Also be it known unto you that our wish and prayer is that when you form your society, in many cities or towns, you will do all that is in your power to aid and protect your Irish sisters from all harm and temptation. As the Irish woman is known for her chastity all over the world; some of them may differ from you in religion, but, brothers, bear in mind that our good Lord died for all, therefore be it known unto you that our wish is that you do all that you can for the Irish emigrant girls, no matter who they may be, and God will reward you in your new country, and doing this you will keep up the high standing and honor of the Irish in America.

We send these instructions to you, hoping that you will carry them out to the best of your ability. Be it known unto you that you are at liberty to make such laws as will guide your workings and for the welfare of our old society, but such laws must be at all times according to the teaching of the Holy Catholic church, and the obligation that we send you, and all of your workings must be submitted to any Catholic priest, when called for. We send you these instructions, as we promised to do with a young man that works on the ship, and who called on you before. Send a copy to our late friend that you spoke of and who is now working the Pennsylvania. Hoping the bearer and this copy will land safe, and that you will treat him right, we remain your brothers in the true bonds of friendship, this 4th day of may, in the year of our Lord, 1836.”


PATRICK McGUIRE — County Fermanagh
JOHN REILLY — County Cavan
PATRICK McKENNA — County Monaghan
JOHN DERKIN — County Mayo
PATRICK BOYLE — County Sligo
JOHN FARRELL — County Meath
THOMAS O’RORKE — County Leitrim
JAMES McMANUS — County Antrim
JOHN McMAHON — County Longford
PATRICK DUNN — County Tyrone
PATRICK HAMILL — County Westmeath
DANIEL GALLAGHER — Glasgow, Scotland
JOHN MURPHY — Liverpool, England