Madigan Muses: Irish American Heritage Month – Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians
March has been proclaimed Irish American Heritage Month. St. Patrick’s Day Parades are held in many Irish American Communities throughout the United States. If you wanted to you could be a spectator or participant in Parades every weekend in March.
Of course, Irish American Heritage Month is more than Parades. During this month, our proud Irish and Irish American History should be promoted.
March 8 is International Women’s Day. In this column, I would like to honor Irish American Women. This year the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians are celebrating their 125thAnniversary. This organization is the oldest Irish Catholic Women’s organization in the country.
In 1894, at the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) National Convention, held in Omaha Nebraska from Ma y8-13, the Ladies were organized as an Auxiliary. The Ancient Order of the Hibernians (AOH) was founded in 1836 to protect the Clergy and the Catholic Churches against the violence of the American Nativists and to assist Irish immigrants.
One of the first Divisions of the newly formed Ladies Auxiliary to the Ancient Order of Hibernians was established in Minnesota only two months after the Convention. The Auxiliary grew fast, spreading from coast to coast. Soon there were Divisions in all the main cities of Ohio.
Initially the Ladies were led by the National Officers of the AOH. In 1902, an Advisory Board of three Women worked with the National Board of the AOH and requested that the Auxiliary be granted the privileges and rights to govern their own Organization. At the Saratoga Convention, the Auxiliary elected their own leaders. At the 1912 Convention, an Ohioan was elected National Secretary: Adelia Christy from Cleveland.
Adelia Christy served in many leadership roles. She served on the National level as Secretary, Vice President and President. The years she served on the National Board corresponded with a very important time in Irish History; the Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.
In 1918, three leaders of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Ancient Order of Hibernians addressed a Congressional Committee on the Irish question. On December 12, 1918 as Past President of the Ladies Auxiliary, Ellen Ryan Jolly, along with the President of the LAAOH, Mary McWhorter, and future President, Adelia Christy, addressed the Hearing of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Irish Question.
Many Irish Representatives spoke before the Congressional Committee to encourage the passing of a Resolution 357 to present the Right of Ireland to freedom, independence and self- determination at the International Peace Conference. In the Opening statement, the group stated, “We ask, Mr. Chairman, only for a free Ireland. We ask that, in conjunction with all other small nations, Ireland may be allowed to work out her own development, to look after her own interest and to be governed and directed by a government of her own people.” When addressing the Committee, Jolly stated, “for 700 years the Irish people have been subjected to grievous wrongs, but now we may entertain the hope that the day of their deliverance is not far distant. The resolutions before you provide that self-determination shall be given to the people of Ireland; that they shall finally and for all time decide for themselves the system of government under which they shall live. I am confident that this honorable committee will report a resolution which the plenipotentiaries at the Peace Conference on the soil of France, representing the various nations of the world, will be apprised of the widespread conviction in America that the doctrine of self-determination shall be applied to the settlement of the Irish Question.”
Mary McWhorter, President of the LAAOH addressed the Congressional Committee, stating, “I am here to represent 75,000 Women – Women of Irish Blood.”
Inconcluding her address, she stated, “You have heard about the wonderful contributions that Ireland has made to Americangreatness and to the world’s greatness. Ireland bound in slavery making such a wonderful contribution to the greatness of this country and other countries where they have made a foothold. What, then, gentlemen of this Committee, would not Ireland free accomplish for the world’s greatness?”
In addition to the LAAOH and the United Irish Societies, Adelia Christy also served as a National Delegate to the American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic. I would like to find more information on this remarkable woman. If there are any family members or others that have information on Adelia Christy, please contact me at me*******@gm***.com. More of her story needs to be shared.
In addition to Adelia Christy, Ohio is honored to have two other women elected to National President. Kathie Linton from the Akron area was elected in 1994 and Carol Sheyer from the Cincinnati area in 2018. During Kathie Linton’s term as President, the 150th Anniversary of the Great Hunger was commemorated. The AOH and LAOH dedicated a monument in County Clare Ireland.
Anyone there that day remembers the wonderful speech that President Linton delivered. Unfortunately, the speech was not recorded. Also during her term, the AOH and LAOH started Project St. Patrick to assist those studying for the Priesthood or Religious life.
Again, an Ohioan is serving during a historic time with the Celebration of our 125th Anniversary, Brexit and the possibility of a Referendum on Irish Reunification. President Sheyer and I will be traveling to Ireland on the Freedom for All Ireland Tour. Next month, I will write about the tour.
I am very proud to be a member of the oldest Irish Catholic Women’s organization, that for the last 125 years has served our Church, country and heritage in many charitable endeavors. For more information on the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, please visit our website www.ladiesaoh.comor email me at me*******@gm**.com.