The Ancient Order of Hibernians is a Catholic, Irish American Fraternal Organization founded in New York City 4 May,1836. The Order can trace its roots back to a parent organization, of the same name, which has existed in Ireland for over 300 years.
However, while the organizations share a common thread, the North American A.O.H. is a separate and much larger organization.
The Order evolved from a need in the early sixteen hunderds to protect the lives of priests who risked immediate death to keep the Catholic Faith alive in occupied Ireland after the reign of England's King Henry VIII.
When England Implemented its dreaded Penal Laws in Ireland, various secret social societies were formed across the country. These groups worked to aid and comfort the people by whatever means available.
Similarly, the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America was founded May 4th, 1836 at New Yorks St. James Church, to protect the clergy, and church Property from the "Know Nothings" and their followers. At the same time the vast influx of Irish Immigrants fleeing famine issues in Ireland in the late 1840's, prompted a growth of various social societies in the USA - the largest of which was, and continues to be, the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
1836........The Ancient Order of Hibernians was founded in New York City
1869........First A.O.H. Division in Connecticut was founded in Bridgeport
from . Latin . Hibernia, a corrupted form of Iverna
A. adj. Of or belonging to Ireland; Irish.
B. n. A native of Ireland: an Irishman
Hence Hi"bernianism, Irish character or nationality; an Irish characteristic, trait, or idiom. Hi"bernianly adv., in a Hibernian manner.
from OED II cd v 3
The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) is the oldest Catholic lay organization in America
by Mike McCormack, AOH National Historianhttp://www.kykofc.com/kentucky/koc_sites/int/hibernians.htm