The Hibernians were founded by mostly Protestant Irishmen, but they were very ecumenical in electing the local Catholic priest, Father Simon Felix Gallagher, pastor of St. Mary’s, as their president. They also used nonsectarian symbols of the harp and shamrock in their emblem which is prominent above the door of Hibernian Hall. Because of this early ecumenism, religious tensions between Irish Catholics and Protestants were never high in Charleston. In fact, Jewish members have been included since the 1800s. Membership has always been, however, restricted to men only.
As is the case with most of the structures standing in and around Charleston, they come with a long and detailed past.