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Allegheny County Division 1 was formed in Pittsburgh by Eliza Abbott, Margaret McNamara, and AOH County Past President John J. Riley, on August 16, 1897, and Eliza Abbott served as President. (1898 Minutes of Division 1). National 1902 records show Margaret J. Melia as the first President of Allegheny County. Margaret was a catalyst in organizing Divisions until her death at 39 bequeathing to the Allegheny County Board an ongoing Irish legacy. At various times through the years, Allegheny County has been the largest County with the greatest number of divisions and membership in PA.
During the last 122 years, several of our sisters from the Allegheny County Board have served at both the State and National levels. Some of our sisters who have served as President over the last few decades are: Sarah Mains, Jean O’Malley, Karen Brodrick, Patricia Flaus, Maureen O’Toole, Sharon McGrath, Kathleen Diulus and Eileen O’Malley. In conjunction with the AOH Allegheny County Board, the LAOH Board has co-hosted several State and National Conventions, including the 2022 National Convention.
From 1945-1974 the County had a Degree Team and in 1985 the Degree Team was reactivated as the Claddagh Degree Team of Allegheny County. Both teams have exemplified major degrees throughout the County, and at State and National Conventions. In July 2019, the Board participated in the Degree Exemplification Ceremony at the AOH/LAOH 100th PA Convention held in Pittsburgh PA.
In line with our Constitution, the Board fosters loyalty to the community through service and donations. Donations are given to FFAI, Columban Sisters and Fathers, Project St. Patrick, SOAR, Appeals for Aid, and to charities for domestic violence and abuse of women. All of our County Divisions generously partake in fundraisers, charitable and civic, and participate in the March for Life held in Washington DC. The County and its Divisions participate in the Irish History Writing Contest and have won both State and National honors.
Meeting four times per year and as early as 1993, the Allegheny County Board oversaw the greatest numbers of membership for any county in PA. To date, the Allegheny County Board oversees seven Divisions: 4, 7, 11, 21, 23, 32 and a Junior Division for girls aged 6 to 18 years old. As of 2019, our total membership was 320 sisters.
The Feast of St. Brigid in February and Our Lady of Knock in August observances are sponsored by the County. At the St. Brigid Mass a woman who has dealt with a chronic illness, or overcome tragedy with courage is honored with The St. Brigid Court Foundation Award. For the annual Our Lady of Knock Mass, sisters with 20 years of service are honored with the Golden Rose Award after the mass.
The County is proud of the fact that LAOH Allegheny County Board has had continuous history since 1898. Two Divisions within Allegheny County have remained continuously active, Division 11 since 1906 and Division 21 since 1908. Continuing forward, the LAOH legacy bequeathed by Margaret J. Melia is a gift remembered as the Allegheny County Board and Divisions channel our LAOH cultural, civic and spiritual works with grace and a grand Irish Heart. We honor our predecessors and history with our activities and look forward to continuing our traditions into the future.