The Ancient Order of Hibernians in Ulster, 1905-18

  • Daniel McCurdy

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This is the first history of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), an Irish nationalist organisation largely based in Ulster that enjoyed its heyday between 1905-1918. A wealth of new material and previously untapped sources informs the present study. To date, the Hibernian Journal, the official press organ of the AOH, has been largely unused by historians; and this despite its recording every facet of Hibernian life. Branch and executive minutes have also been located, shedding new light on the degree of congruence and dissonance between the AOH rank-and-file, and its leadership. Our image of the society’s financial practices has also been much improved by the discovery of financial records on no less than five AOH divisions. Building on recent work, this thesis suggests
that the Order housed and in fact catered to constitutional separatists, a group positioned halfway between constitutional nationalism and separatism. This feat was achieved by recourse to a programme of “populist patriotism” as well as what might be called Hibernian home rule. Of the little work completed on visions of home rule, most focuses on constitutional elites. Elsewhere, historians have precluded the possibility that separatists had a stake in home rule, by concentrating on the experiences of Irish revolutionaries. Here it is argued that the AOH’s leadership used Anglophobia, and claims to a separatist lineage, along with an improvised policy in the economic and social spheres, to gain the support of constitutional separatists. Hibernian home rule was particularly efficacious because of its hazy nature. Failure to achieve this goal, however,
exposed the Order’s function as a gag for separatist sentiment, and when Redmond perverted the Irish Volunteer Force by committing it to the war effort, many constitutional separatists became disillusioned. With the Easter Rising and the rise of Sinn Fein, this disaffection became support for what was, in many ways, a more genuine embodiment of constitutional separatism.
Date of AwardNov 2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorKyle Hughes (Supervisor) & Peter O'Connor (Supervisor)


  • Ancient Order of Hibernians
  • AOH
  • Joseph Devlin
  • Ulster nationalism
  • Irish nationalism

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