Get Your Irish On

March 7, 2014 

Angela Grossmann-Roewe
Contributing Writer

Everyone loves an Irish girl, and in this area, there’s no shortage.

There’s even a club for them - the St. Clair County Ladies Order of Ancient Hibernians with dozens of local women who are the real deal - Irish through and through. The local chapter is the oldest division in the United States, and continues to write history.

A Sisterhood of Irish and Irish-American Catholic women, LAOH’s primary purpose in the 1800s was to protect young immigrant Irish girls coming to the United States; assist them in securing employment; give them the opportunity to be with their own kind; and keep them from becoming homesick and discouraged. As society changed so did its mission, which now focuses on its Constitution’s preamble - to Promote Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity.

There are currently 75 members of the St. Clair County group, and members would like to see that number increase this year. Membership privileges include celebrating and honoring your Irish heritage, learning more about your roots, making new friends, and giving back to the community. Lassies hoping to join must be Irish and Catholic.

An informational membership open house is slated to run from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 10 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 5420 Old Collinsville Road, Fairview Heights. Heavy appetizers and refreshments will be served with alcoholic beverages available at the hall’s bar. St. Clair County Associate Judge Heinz Rudolf will be the guest speaker.

Throughout the year, LAOH donates monies and goods to organizations in need, including the Catholic Urban League, Special Olympics, the Pregnancy Care Center, Columban Fathers and Sisters, and others. Its largest fundraiser, the Irish Tea, is held in March. Members periodically collect items for specific organizations, and gather for an annual St. Brigid’s Day Mass and brunch and a holiday party.

“We are a goodwill club,” club Vice President Patti Bond said, “and the fact that we are the oldest division in the U.S. is a very special designation ... something every member should be proud of.”

The St. Clair County LAOH group is also responsible for the Flag Raising Ceremony at the St. Clair County Courthouse in Belleville to commemorate the city’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. This year’s flag raising is set for 10 a.m. March 15.

LAOH meets once a month (excluding June, July and August) at 6:30 the third Thursday of every month at the K of C Hall in Fairview Heights. Refreshments are always served. Yearly dues are $20. For more information regarding the club or membership, call Patti Bond at 618-363-4816, or e-mail her at blarneygirl73@yahoo.com.

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