The History of the Irish in Bristol & the Bristol A.O.H.
Like other ethnic groups, the Irish Immigrants were drawn to areas where friends or relatives had settled. Of those who came to Bucks County, some settled in the upper end of the county, while others selected the area along the river, especially in and around Bristol. Of the latter, the early arrivals settled in what was known as "The Hollow". It is now part of Bristol, above the Adams Creek, along the 1200 block of Radcliffe Street and the Delaware River. Later, the Irish established their homesteads west of the Lehigh Canal from Beaver Street to Clymer Street (The Race). While this area was predominately Irish, it also had other ethnic origins within its borders and became a sort of melting pot. In later years, it was referred to as the "Kettle."
In 1883, a group of men who wished to preserve their heritage - and this was a heritage of which they wer justifiably proud - organized a chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. They endorsed the motto of Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity. Monthly meetings were held at the Bristol House on Mill Street in Bristol.
The original officers of this group were Patrick Fallon, Edward McHugh, Maurice Roche, James Rehill and Jeremy Kelly. Others who assisted them were named Boyd, McCarry, Cogle, Dougherty, Waters, McGinley, Dugan and many others whose progeny still bear their names in this area. One of the original members was Michael Dougherty. He was the first secretary of A.O.H. Division No. 1.
Three years after they received their charter, Division #1 made plans for their own clubhouse. This was a unified endeavor. They chose the site at Corson and Plum Streets in the "Kettle". Then, through their own efforts and their own skills, they erected (during their non-working hours) the building which still stands at the above location. They moved to this hall in 1892.
Down through the years, they have participated in and supported many of the community, social and civic functions. No one will ever know the extent of the assistance which was extended to needy families, many of whom never knew the source of the benefactors. As the years passed, the A.O.H. attracted a membership of young men and the Hibernians, among others, were instrumental in organizing and developing a sports program. Baseball, football and basketball leagues were formulated and teams uniformed and sponsored. A competitive spirit was engendered, rivalries developed and interest in athletics escalated throughout the Lower Bucks Community to an apex never before or since attained. In the past, the A.O.H. has sponsored a Special Children's "Tee Ball" team.
Another important feature of Hibernian membership is fellowship and camaraderie and the discussions which occur on any number of subjects, such as, education, religion, history, geography, athletics, politics, and knowledge of the surrounding areas. It was this participation which generated or motivated many of the members to serve their communities in such positions as councilmen, supervisors, commissioners, mayors, State and Federal legislators, etc., all of whom served with distinction.
After over 139 years of service, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division #1, is still a viable organization. It has persisted, through good years and bad, with continuous service and operation to reach far past its Centennial.
Thus, the legacy of our founders - Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity - has survived. It is as alive today as it has been in the past. We feel certain that it shall continue into the future, as we preserve those precepts and bequeath them to those who follow.