AOH is "Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity"
by Cate Murway
The Ancient Order of Hibernians [AOH], founded simultaneously in NYC at St. James Church and in Schuylkill County, PA in 1836, is an Irish Catholic fraternal organization whose members must be male, Catholic and either Irish born or of Irish descent.
The use of the name of the society in Ireland can be traced back to 1641 and is derived from Hibernia, the Roman name for Ireland. It was founded by an Irish chieftain, Prince Rory Oge O'Moore of the principality of Leix. He took up the cause of religion and the protection of the priesthood as well as the defense of his dominion.
The vast influx of Irish immigrants fleeing famine issues in Ireland in the late 1840’s prompted a growth of various USA social societies, the largest of which was, and continues to be, the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
It is the oldest Catholic Lay organization in America, and the largest Irish society in the world with Divisions in Ireland, and 49 of the United States.
Its motto is "Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity."
“Friendship shall consist of helping one another and in assisting each other to the best of our power. Unity, in combining together for mutual support in sickness and distress. Christian Charity, in loving one another and doing to all men as we would wish that they should do unto us.”
Ambitious and determined AOH President, Kevin Patrick Loughran, Sr. and its members are fostering and preserving the art, dance, music, and sports of the Irish culture, a heritage of which they are justifiably proud.
The self-confident and self-reliant Kevin recommended this “Spotlight” himself.
“I am an active member of Bristol Ancient Order of Hibernians. We were formed 125 [years ago] and have had the same clubhouse since 1892. We are active in many social, ethnic and community activities. One very notable project is the Hibernian Hunger Project. We have been very active in keeping the local food pantries stocked. Additionally every July we assemble thousands of meals to be distributed through Aid for Friends in NE Philadelphia. March is a very important month for Irish Americans and we are no exception. We have been holding a mass at Saint Marks on March 17--Saint Patrick's Day.
It would be an incredible boost to see our organization featured in the Bristol Pilot Profile. Our members have done so many good deeds and we continue to support the community.”
Twins Kevin Patrick, Sr. and Terence Michael “Terry”, BE ‘86 are the youngest of the children born to Thomas Joseph, Sr. and Patricia Ann [Paulaski] Loughran.
[Charter member of the AOH, late Civil War veteran Michael Dougherty, was the 1st Secretary. He was born in Falcarragh, County Donegal, Ireland, and he also was the youngest, but of seven children. He served as a Bristol Council Member from 1880-1882. Dougherty's grave is in the small cemetery behind St. Mark's Church.]
The older Loughran siblings are Patrick Michael, BHS ’74, carpenter Thomas Joseph, Jr., BHS ’75, Borough resident Veronica Marie [Loughran ] Ragan, BC’80 and Grace Mary [Loughran] Barone, BC’82.
Kevin delivers lumber for the largest privately owned single-facility producer of treated wood in the NE US, Land & Sea Forest Products of Fairless Hills and his twin brother, Terry, a lab tech who also resides in the borough, is an Air Force veteran who was stationed in Travis AFB, CA.
Their father, Thomas Joseph has steadfastly lived by the Hibernian motto of ‘Friendship, unity and true Christian charity’, since his teen years. He is a graduate of Northeast Catholic High School and served as an Air Force MP prison guard at MacDill AFB in Tampa. Their dad grew up in historic Bristol on the Delaware with his late siblings James and Ann. His sister, Elizabeth “Betty” Leinheiser now resides in Edgely.
Kevin learned his potent work ethic at an early age while he labored arduously with his father in his TJ Loughran Carpentry & Roofing business.
“I remember as a kid, working on the roof and on the clock tower roof.”
Marvin [wife, Gloria] Hirschhorn, “a really nice gentleman”, ran the Tea Factory in the Grundy Commons, the former textile mill, and “we practically lived in there doing all the wood floors work from when I was 8 until I was 13.”
Formerly a Bristol Riverside Theatre stagehand, his nephew Ryan J. O’Gara [TJ’s son] has served on Broadway as the Associate Lighting Designer for West Side Story, To Be or Not To Be, Cry Baby, Gypsy, and Xanadu and he is currently providing the lighting for “The Little Prince” performances at the BRT.
Kevin’s three children, Nicola , BHS ’05, cheerleader Patricia Rose  who is an aspiring veterinarian; and future AOH member, Kevin Patrick, Jr.  who loves football were all born in Belfast, Ireland. While in Ireland, Kevin was an operations manager for a start up company, Guilbert Office Supply. He returned his family to his beloved Bristol in 2001 when more violence broke out between rival crowds of Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.
“I love this town, it’s a gorgeous town.”
Kevin and Terry shared their birthdate with the late Oswald George Nelson “Ozzie Nelson” [1906-1975], best known as the very hands-on and involved father in what is considered America's first "reality" TV sitcom, “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet”.
The twins were both Boy Scouts and together they joined the Civil Air Patrol [CAP], a Congressionally chartered, federally supported, non-profit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the USAF. There are 18 PA CAP planes for search & rescue and Kevin is a licensed commercial pilot for single/ multi-engine general aviation aircrafts.
Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others.
Kevin and his father have helped with all the AOH charities and especially, the Hibernian Hunger Project. They provide meals for the less fortunate in remembrance of the more than one million Irish people who died of starvation and related diseases during the Great Irish Famine in the 1800’s.
Information from the AOH web page is astonishing!
During the 2003 holiday season, the HHP donated 7,500 lbs. of food to local charities, The Bristol Borough Community Action Center, Kelly Family Services, and A Woman's Place. A year later, the donations amassed16,500 lbs. of food for Martha's Cupboard, Loaves and Fishes Pantry and A Woman's Place. The Aid for Friends donation totaled 13,675 meals, and that holiday season, they collected 80,000 servings of pasta, 7,500 can goods, 10,000 diapers, 1,000 juice boxes, 500 cereal boxes plus thousands of various household essentials.
The Project delivered the meals to local food banks, senior centers, churches and homeless shelters and linked with social service agencies including Aid for Friends to distribute the food.
The AOH on Corson Street also adopts and provides for a family for Christmas and they have paid many bills for the Food Pantry on Wood Street.
They raise and support a fund of money to continue their charitable works with various projects that showcase the positive contributions of the Irish to every walk of American life.
For Celtic Day, Liam Shardinger, proprietor of “Dinger & Doug”, designs the shirts and the crowd shows their Irish pride with every purchase.
Jim Fowler is the driving force behind the “Live @ The Hibos” CD sessions and Chad Palmer provides the mix. The CDs and a fine array of Gaelic custom merchandise are available all year at Mignoni Jewelry and Gifts on Mill Street.
Their car wash last year was a very good moneymaker and an additional community service goal is to raise funds for compact fluorescent light bulbs for the Grundy tower residents.
AOH scholarships are provided for CEC seniors.
Mark your calendar for June 3, 2011 for The Annual Golf Tournament.
Sponsors and golfers are needed.
“We have hard working citizens that make this town happen.”
Ed Gallagher is Vice President, the Treasurer is Al Mitchell and Patrick Stanley is the Financial Secretary.
The charitable contributions have been significant and no one will ever know the extent of the assistance that has been presented to needy families, many of whom never knew the source of the benefactors.
You may further seek admittance to the finest Irish Catholic Organization in the world; all they would ask is for you to live their motto of: "Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity".
AOH meets the first Thursday of the month at 8:00PM. Call 215.788.9806.
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