Hibernian Society

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Founded 08 July 1968,[1] the Hibernian Australian Catholic Benefit Society was a church-based support network. It was founded in 1868 by a group of Irish immigrants, including Mark Young. In 1857 Young arrived in the colony of Victoria from Ireland. He moved to Ballarat, where he worked in a variety of occupations, including keeping a store with his brother. In 1861 he joined a gold rush to Otago, New Zealand, returning to Ballarat in 1862. Young ran the the White Hart Hotel in Sturt Street and became very active in local affairs. He assisted other Irishmen in the foundation of the Ballarat Hibernian Benefit Society and later worked to achieve the amalgamation of that society with the Australian Catholic Benefit Society to form the Hibernian Australian Catholic Benefit Society. He was elected as its first president.

Many Catholics were not is a friendly society because Bishop Gould of Melbourne did not favor Catholics joinign ny society which bound members to a form of secrecy. Mark Young proposed a society for Catholic men without secret signs or passwords. The meeting swre open to all. The first meeting was held at the White Hart Hotel, Sturt Street, Ballarat. The first meeting was held in the belfry of St Patrick's Cathedral on 01 July 1868 with Mark Young as President and Michael Dugan as Secretary.[2]

The first of the members of the Hibernian held on Thursday evening, at the hall of the Western Fire Brigade Engine-house. Mr M. Young, president, occupied the chair. There was a numerous attendance. The president having in some prefatory remarks pointed out the advantages arising from the formation of such societies, proceeded to read the rules and bylaws proposed for adoption. These rules, which are based upon those of the St. Patrick Society, Melbourne, the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, and similar friendly societies, were exceedingly voluminous, and such as are contemplated by the statute. There were a few special provisions which gave rise to some discussion, but which were allowed to remain unaltered. The rules were adopted in their entirety. The appointment of the following officers was confirmed:— President, Mark Young; vice-president, Michael O'Grady; trustees, James Cotter, Daniel and Patrick Thompson; treasurer, John Barry; secretary, Michael Deegan.

The Society supported St Patrick's Day parades. In 1953 sixty of its branches marched in the Melbourne parade.[3]

Branches were extablished at Bacchus Marsh, Clunes and elsewhere.


The constituion of June 1870 stated:

One of the onjects of the Society is for the members to cherish the memory of Ireland. Also, to endeavour to instil in the winds of teh Celtic Australian race a veneration for teh land of their forefathers in order that they may imitiate if not excel in the faith and virtues of that devoted nation, and to extend the hand of friendship to their co-religionists of every nationality, participating with them in a brotherly spirit, every benefit of social and precuniary the society affords.[4]


A meeting of members and friends of the Hibernian Society was held at the Western Fire Brigade Hall on Thursday evening. Upwards of fifty gentlemen were present, and great interest was manifested in the proceedings. The chairman, Mr. Mark Young, in few eloquent and pertinent remarks, urged the necessity of establishing such a society for Ballarat as the means of cementing union and good-feeling among the Irishmen of the district, and also of keeping up the amor patriae and Recollections of the home country. His suggestion met with general approval. The certificate of provisional registration was read, and rules, similar in object to other benefit asociations, were adopted. Stringent regulations are made for the exclusion of political and religious matters from all business connected with the society. After electing the various officers necessary prior to final registration, and accepting names of several condidated proposed for membership, the meeting adjourned.[5]

Our Ballarat correspondent writes — At a meeting of the Executive Directory of the Ballarat Hibernian Society, held on February 11th, three dispensations were granted for opening branches of the society, in connection with the parent one, at Sebastopol, Bacchus Marsh, and Gordons. The requisition applying for each dispensation was most numerously signed, and conformed in every particular with the rules of the society. The president, vice-president, and secretary, were in each instance deputed to perform the ceremony. The opening of the Sebastopol branch took place on Monday evening, February 15th. The large hall of the Mechanics' Institute, where the meeting was held, was crowded, several visitors from the Ballarat society being present, in addition to the local candidates for membership. At eight o'clock the President of the Directory (Mr. Mark Young) opened the meeting, the following gentlemen also being in attendance:— Mr. F. Byrne, vice-president of directory; Mr. J. Berry, treasurer; Messrs. D. Brophy. W. Kinnane, F. Power, D. O'Keane, P. Collins, and J. O'Keane, members of directory; and Mr. James Martin, secretary to Ballarat branch No. 1. Mr. M. Deegan, district secretary, was absent during early part of the evening, but subsequently attended the meeting. The President, after reading the dispensation, authorising the opening of the Sebastopol branch, urged on the members the imperative necessity of compliance with the rules of the society, and of tlie practices and principles of union and friendship towards one another. Upwards of forty-three members were elected, and ten candidates proposed. The nomination of office-bearers was next proceeded with, the ballotting for same to take place at next meeting. The night of meeting was fixed for each alternate Monday. The greatest enthusiasm and interest pervaded the entire proceedings, and confident anticipations were vouched of this branch being both in a numerical and financial sense a most successful one. The Vice President conveyed to the meeting the congratulations of the Ballarat branch, and of the good-will evinced by it towards the new off-shoot of the parent stem. The regular routine business having been disposed of, the minutes and accounts were read and certified to, and the President declared the meeting closed.[6]

A SPECIAL meeting of the Ballarat Hibernian Society was held at their hall in Dawson street, on Tuesday night, for the purpose of receiving new. rules and altering the name of the society to "The Hibernian Benefit Society." The chair was occupied by Mr. F. H. Byrne, vice' president of E.D.; M. O'Grady in the vice, chair. The following delegates, were present Messrs. Martin Ryan, secretary, Learmonth; Edmond Daly, president, Smythesdale; Andrew S. Ward, president, Springdallah; William Caffrey, vice-president, Buninyong; James Young, president, Navigators; John Martin, past president, Sebastopol; and William Corbett, president. In addition to these about seventy members attended. The new rules were read by the secretary and adopted. The alteration in the name of the society, as above referred to, was carried by a very large majority, the sense of the several branches having previously been taken at their various meeting votes of thanks to the delegates and the meeting concluded, the advertised business of meeting. Before the members left the hall the chairman submitted samples of regalia recently received from Paris and Melbourne. The French sample, from the firm of M. Simon Jeune, of Paris, was much admired for the purity of colour and the excellence of the texture, to the more solid article, sent by Mr. Charles Martin, of Flinders lane, Melbourne; were generally preferred, and attracted much attention as having been the first thing of the land in which gold embroidery was executed by any colonial firm. The motto and coat of arms were so beautifully worked by needle in gold thread, on an emerald green ground, as to reflect grew credit, on Mr Martin. Mr. Martin has satisfactorily executed a large order of these sashes for the New Zealand branches of the society. [7]

Also See

Daniel Brophy (1832-1895)

Also See

Daniel Thompson

Andrew S. Ward


  1. Ballarat Star, 10 July 1918.
  2. McLenehan, E.K., 'The Foundation of the Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society' IN The Ballarat Historian, Vol 1, No 9, June 1983.
  3. https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/articles/2036, accessed 27 August 2017.
  4. McLenehan, E.K., 'The Foundation of the Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society' IN The Ballarat Historian, Vol 1, No 9, June 1983.
  5. Melbourne Advocate, 18 July 1968.
  6. Melbourne Advocate, 20 February 1869.
  7. Melbourne Advocate, 18 June 1870.

External Links

Medallion - https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/articles/2036

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