Hibernian? What’s a Hibernian?


Editor’s Corner: Hibernian? What’s a Hibernian?
By John O’Brien, Jr. @Jobjr

Perhaps you have heard of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America (AOH), and their magnificent counterpart, the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians in America (LAOH).  The Hibernians are a group of like-minded men and women, issues based, and dedicated to: promoting friendship, unity and Christian charity; to foster and sustain loyalty to our faith and to the United States of America among our members; to aid and advance by all legitimate means the aspirations and endeavors of the Irish people for complete and absolute independence; to foster the ideals and perpetuate the history and traditions of the Irish people; and to promote Irish culture.

Hibernians are the oldest and largest Catholic organization in the world. I’ve been a member of the AOH for a long time; I joined maybe fifteen, maybe twenty, maybe more, years ago; I honestly don’t know. The sense of working together for a greater good is the river that runs through the Hibernians, fueling and inspiring by the good works of member that have left an impact filled and lasting legacy since the AOH first formed in America on May 4th, 1836. 

I haven’t been a member quite that long, but I do see and strive for the legacy left behind by those that came before me. God willing, I, and those brothers and sisters at the convention, and not, will add to that legacy too, with what we leave behind us.

Preserving, presenting and promoting our rich Irish heritage is the primary reason we started Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival, almost forty years ago. It is the primary reason I started iIrish newsmagazine, more than sixteen years ago. It isn’t about me. We don’t do it for credit, we do it for a higher purpose – maybe friendship, maybe faith, maybe charity, maybe more.

Unity, Friendship and Christian Charity are things I have been working toward, seeking endlessly. I would work toward those causes whether I was a Hibernian or not. I suspect my Brother and Sister Hibernians would say the same. It is a branch of the river that runs through us. Seeking reunification for a united and free Ireland is most frequently heard about in the songs and stories of our bards, but Only Our Rivers Run Free

You Cannot Conquer Ireland
Irish independence leader Patrick Pearse said, … believe that we too love freedom and desire it. To us it is more desirable than anything in the world. If you strike us down now, we shall rise again and renew the fight. You cannot conquer Ireland. You cannot extinguish the Irish [or American] passion for freedom. If our deed has not been sufficient to win freedom, then our children will win it by a better deed.

The Ancient order of Hibernians in America and the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians in America are working to create better deeds – today, and a legacy of better deeds for as long as we have the gift of life. We are grass-roots Irish America.  |

The Hibernians held their Biannual National Convention, this year in Pittsburgh, PA. I am blessed, and I was able to attend.  We expanded iIrish to the Greater Pittsburgh area September 1st, almost a year ago. The chance to see in person the many wonderful people who have been helping iIrish to flourish was also too good to pass up. 

Both Ohio and PA were very well represented at the convention, as iIrish Madigan Muses Columnist Marilyn Madigan was elected National President of the Ladies (LAOH) order and Danny O’Connell was reelected as National President of the Men’s (AOH) order.  Throughout the Hibernian’s organizations, both Ohio and PA. are filling many positions of responsibility with dedication, and the desire to continue the evolution of the largest Irish Catholic organization outside of Ireland.

Even with its age, there are many in America who do not know that the AOH exists, and even more do not know that the equally impactful LAOH exists too. We strive to work hand in hand to fulfill those aforementioned goals that are our mission.

If you have Irish roots, are Catholic, and want to do the good things that we are able to do, Join us. Call me, email me, message me … and I will connect you with all the information you want, male or female, to leave a lasting legacy, too.

Cleveland’s Marilyn Madigan Today Was Elected to a Two-Year Term as President of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians (LAOH) Inc.

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – July 16, 2022 – The Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians (LAOH) Inc., a national Irish Catholic women’s organization, today elected Marilyn Madigan of Cleveland, Ohio, to serve as its President for a two-year term. The LAOH’s motto is friendship, unity and Christian charity and has more than 10,000 members in 30 states. 

Since joining the LAOH in 1977 as a member of Our Lady of the Rosary Division in Cleveland, she has risen through the ranks of officers on the local division, county, state and national levels. In addition to serving in many offices she also was a founding member of the Ohio Degree team, serving as Treasurer and Guardian. In 1988, when Cleveland hosted the LAOH national convention she served on the local committee. Ms. Madigan’s dedication, respect and devotion to her Irish heritage, the Roman Catholic religion and to helping the community at large propelled her as she ascended the LAOH chain of command. 

During her more than 40 years with the LAOH, Ms. Madigan worked tirelessly on behalf of the order and served as an officer in many roles. For the national board of the LAOH, she has been elected to the positions of National Irish Historian, Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President and now President. She has served in most of the offices on the local and State levels including service as division, county and state president.

She was very proud and honored to serve as LAOH National Irish Historian during the Centennial of the Easter Rising in 2016. Ms. Madigan has been very diligent and enthusiastic in promoting the Women of 1916 in the cause of Irish freedom speaking in Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York and Ohio on the topic. 

In 2019, Ms. Madigan was honored with the prestigious distinction of induction into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame. In 2002, the Boland Berry Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians selected her as the Hibernian of the Year. In 1994, the United Irish Societies of Cleveland selected her as Co-Chair of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

An active member of Cleveland’s Irish Community, in addition to the LAOH, she is a member and has served in leadership roles in the Cleveland Comhaltas, Gaelic Society, Irish American Club East Side, Irish Northern Aid, United Irish Societies, West Side Irish American Club, Irish Music Academy of Cleveland and Cleveland Feis. She also was a dancer with the O’Leary Manning School of Irish Dance and has served as Co-Chair of the Ohio Irish Festival. She has volunteered for many years at the Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival and with the Irish American Archives Society at the Annual Walks of Life event. 

As she embarks on this new leadership role as President of the LAOH, Ms. Madigan referenced one of her heroes, President John F. Kennedy by asking her fellow Hibernians, “Ask not what the Hibernians or your community can do for you. Ask what Marilyn Madigan can do for the Hibernians and your community.” 

Ms. Madigan added, “I am humbled and honored to be elected President of this prestigious organization and I’m excited to be leading the world’s largest organization of Irish, Catholic women. The LAOH is at a critical juncture. Our profile has been raised over the past few years and I will continue to work to grow the membership while continuing to champion social justice issues and empower Irish, Catholic women.”

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from St. John College and began her nursing career in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. Her work in nursing continued for 38 years as an Advanced Clinical Nurse in the Department of Operative Services. She retired in 2018 after 41 years of service at University Hospital Cleveland Medical Center. 


About the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians (LAOH) Inc.
The Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians (LAOH) Inc. is a 501(c) 3 clarity. The LAOH membership is confined exclusively to practicing Roman Catholics, and Irish by birth or descent, legally adopted, the wife or mother of a Hibernian, the mother of a Junior Hibernian or a member of a religious order. The intent and purpose of the LAOH is to promote friendship, unity and Christian charity, to foster and sustain loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church and to the United States of America among its members, to aid and advance by all legitimate means the aspirations and endeavors of the Irish people for complete and absolute independence, and to foster the ideals and perpetuate the history and traditions of the Irish people and to promote Irish culture.

See the What’s the Craic? Taking the Fields of Glory, and the Annual Festival Focus pages within for all the craic, and the details too, going on this month. There is so much more inside, and I have taken up enough of your precious time today.

Hope to see you at the Mahoning, Dublin, Ohio Celtic, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Michigan Irish Festivals this summer.

We’ll have the one, on me.

iIrish is made in America. We have always been green and are proudly Irish, all year long.

Nuair a stapann an ceol, an damhsa déanann an amhlaidh
(When the music stops, so does the dance)


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