Hibernians re-establish chapter in Travis County

Officers for the Travis County Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians were installed in Austin on Feb. 7. The Hibernians are the oldest and largest Irish Catholic group in the U.S. (Photo courtesy James Cullen)

By Catholic Spirit Staff

The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), the oldest and largest Irish Catholic group in the U.S., established the Travis County Division #1 on Feb. 7.
Board members from New Orleans and New York traveled to Austin for the installation of the new division and election and swearing in of local officers. The officers include President Michael Joyce, Vice President Kevin Buechler, Sentinel Nolan Maloney, Marshall Greg Hannan, Treasurer Thomas Miner, Financial Secretary John Broderick, Recording Secretary Kelly Newlin, Standing Committee Chairman Christian Hunker and the Division Chaplain, Holy Cross Father Peter Walsh.
Joyce has been working to establish the Austin division for about two years.
“It’s been a long time coming and I’m honored to be with you today and humbled by the service you’ve given to the Division so far,” Joyce told the newly installed division.
Previously the Michael O’Shaughnessy Division, which had 77 members in the 1980s and early 1990s before several of its leaders passed away or moved out of town, evaporated, according to Kevin O’Connell, who joined AOH in New York in 1956 and was one of the leaders of the organizational effort in Austin after he retired from the New York Police Department and moved to Austin in 1979.
Locally, the Travis County Division already has established relationships with the Celtic Cultural Center of Texas, Celtic Cowboys, Gaelic League of Austin, and Irish Consul Farrell.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians in America was formed in 1836 by Irish immigrant groups in New York and Pennsylvania to provide community and opportunity for those newly arriving Irish-American citizens as well as protect Catholic churches and clergy from persecution and violence. As the Irish settled west, so did the AOH, which privately provided social welfare benefits for members and stood guard over the Catholic Church. Today, Christian fraternity and charitable works occupy the time of local divisions across the country.
For more information about the Travis County Division #1 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, visit www.aohaustintx.com.