Ancient Order of Hibernians Thomas J. Clarke
The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) is the oldest lay Catholic Irish-American organization in the United States. Founded in New York City on May 4, 1836 as a fraternal and protective society, the Order had its roots in similar secret societies, which had existed in Ireland for centuries defending cultural and religious values against the forces of bigotry. When the need for protection of Church and clergy diminished in America, the Order expanded its purpose to assist the Church's missions, support local charities and promote and preserve Irish traditions in America.
This is Thomas J. Clarke Division 8, located in Centereach/Selden, Long Island, founded in February 1967. It was originally named for Father Francis Fitzgerald, the founding pastor of the parish of the Assumption in Centereach. As the centennial of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland approached, the associated Ladies AOH sister Division chose to honor Irish patriot Kathleen Daly Clarke as their namesake since both men’s and ladies’ Divisions had close ties to the Clarke Home-site in nearby Manorville. The men’s Division soon followed renaming their Division in honor of Thomas J Clarke, who was, in fact, the leading member of the patriot force behind the Easter Rising. In 1968, their first year in existence they organized the Long Island Feis which was so successful that it became an annual event attracting thousands of competitors from all parts of the U.S., Canada and Ireland. They are responsible for discovering the Long Island home site of Irish patriot leader Thomas J. Clarke and establishing it as a historic landmark, erecting a 20-ton obelisk quarried and engraved in Ireland and dedicated at the site in 1989. It is now the scene of an annual commemoration ceremony. The Division purchased their own Culture Center in 1985, started a pipe band in 1989 and a library in 1994. The Culture Center they support has hosted free Irish language lessons, Irish history classes, bagpiping and drumming instructions and has provided its facilities community groups from boy and girl scouts to senior citizens and Veterans. The founding members of Division 8 were visionaries. They were dedicated examples for today's members and left a legacy of which we are justifiably proud.
About AOH DIVISION 8