AOH Hicksville NY

Facts about Commodore John Barry and the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Commodore John Barry

Few Americans are well-acquainted with the gallantry and heroic exploits of Philadelphia’s Irish-born naval commander, Commodore John Barry. Obscured by his contemporary, commander John Paul Jones, Barry remains to this day an unsung hero of the young American Republic. Many historians note, John Barry can be classed on a par with Jones for nautical skill and daring, but he exceeds him in the length of service (17 years) to his adopted country and his fidelity to the nurturing of a permanent American Navy. Indeed, Barry deserves the proud epithet, “Father of the American Navy,” a title bestowed on him not by current generations of admirers, but by his contemporaries, who were in the best position to judge.

In the space of 58 years, this son of a poor Irish farmer rose from humble cabin boy to senior commander of the entire United States fleet. Intrepid in battle, he was humane to his men as well as adversaries and prisoners. Barry’s war contributions are unparalleled: he was the first to capture a British war vessel on the high seas; he captured two British ships after being severely wounded in a ferocious sea battle; he quelled three mutinies; he fought on land at the Battles of Trenton and Princeton; he captured over 20 ships including an armed British schooner in the lower Delaware; he authored a Signal Book which established a set of signals used for effective communication between ships; and he fought the last naval battle of the American Revolution aboard the frigate Alliance in 1783.

About the A.O.H.

The AOH is the oldest ethnic, catholic, charitable, organization still operating in the United States.

The twin constitutional goals of the Irish and Catholic membership are to assist in the re-unification of Ireland and to support the church and its missions.

Hibernian monuments to famed Irish or Irish-Americans like Commodore Barry and memorials to events like the Great hunger are in every major American city like in Mobile, AL (Fr. Abram Ryan), Washington, D. C. (Nuns of the Battlefield), Valley Forge, PA (Medal of Honor grove) and Chicago, ILL (.Mt Olivet Cemetery).

Being Irish means more than just wearing a green shirt, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day or raising a pint of stout. It’s about a history of a proud and determined people. This section of our website provides links to historical information about the Irish and their culture.


Read Penal Laws Below for information on British Rule in Ireland

British Penal Laws, Enacted 1691 – 1760

Professor William Edward Hartpole Lecky (1838–1903), a Protestant of British blood and ardent British Sympathizer, writes (in his A History of Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, 4 vols. London, 1887) that the objective of the British Penal Laws were threefold.

1. To deprive the Catholics of all civil life.

2. To reduce them to a condition of most extreme and brutal ignorance.

3. To disassociate them from the soil.

(He might, with absolute justice, have substituted Irish for Catholic and added;

number 4. To expire the race.)

The Irish Catholic was forbidden to practice their religion.

Forbidden from receiving and education.

Forbidden from entering a profession.

Forbidden from holding public office.

Forbidden from engaging in trade or commerce.

Forbidden from living in, or within five (5) miles of a corporate town.

Forbidden from owning a horse of greater value than five pounds.

Forbidden from purchasing land.

Forbidden from leasing land.

Forbidden from accepting a mortgage on land in security of a loan.

Forbidden from voting.

Forbidden from keeping any arms for their protection.

Forbidden from holding a life annuity.

Forbidden from buying land from a Protestant.

Forbidden from accepting a gift of land from a Protestant.

Forbidden from renting land worth more than thirty (30) shillings a year.

Forbidden from reaping from their land a profit exceeding a third of the rent.

Could not be a guardian to any children.

Could not, when dying, leave their infant children under Catholic guardianship.

Could not attend Catholic worship.

Was compelled, by law, to attend Protestant worship.

Could not educate their children themselves.

Could not send their children to a Catholic teacher.

Could not employ a Catholic teacher to come to their children.

Could not send their children abroad to receive an education.

MacManus, Seamus, Story of the Irish Race, Devlin-Adair Co., Greenwich, Connecticut, 1979, pp. 458-459.

The last Catholic Relief Act became law on April 13, 1829, and Catholic emancipation was achieved.


This excerpt touches on the beginning of the start A.O.H. (faithful sentries of the faith ),

Taken From “The History of the Irish Race” by Seamus Mac Manus,

Throughout these dreadful centuries, too. The hunted priest – who is his youth had been smuggled to the Continent of Europe to receive his training – tended the flame of faith. He lurked like a thief among the hills. On Sundays and feast days he celebrated Mass at a rock, on a remote mountainside, while the congregation knelt on the heather of the hillside, under the open heavens.

While he said Mass, faithful sentries watched from all the nearby hilltops, to give timely warning of the approaching priest-hunter and his guard of British soldiers. But sometimes the troops came on them unawares, and the Mass Rock was bespattered with his blood, – and men, women, and children caught in the crime of worshiping God among the rocks, were frequently slaughtered on the mountainside.


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