Since the inception of the Club, Hibernian have always had an ambitious and progressive outlook.

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Hibernian Football Club is born on Friday 6th August 1875. Father Hannan is elected as manager and Michael Whelahan as the first captain.

Michael Whelahan and some of his friends had become interested in the game of football they watched being played on the Meadows, and indeed they had played themselves a few times - although quickly discovering that the anti-Irish prejudices made it nigh on impossible for them to play for any of the established clubs. It was Michael who hit on the idea that the CYMS should themselves form a football club, and he took the idea to Father Hannan. The Father was already aware of the rising popularity of the game among young men, and when his own enquiries into the organisation of the game proved favourable he invited Michael to put his case at the next meeting of the CYMS at St Mary's Street Halls.



Erin Go Bragh: Ireland Forever

The idea immediately caught the imagination of the CYMS committee, and Father Hannan agreed to assist Michael in ensuring that his idea came to fruition. Players for the new football team where quickly identified, all bar one of them being of Irish birth (the exception was one Danny Browne, born in Edinburgh of Irish parents). The first decisions to be made were club colours and a motto - these were easily agreed with Green with a Harp as the crest, and the motto 'Erin Go Bragh' (Ireland Forever). The name, at least at first, proved somewhat more problematic.


Canon Hannan

Father Hannan


Several ideas where put forward, but in the event it was Michael himself who came up with the answer. He recalled that many years before, the Catholic society known as the 'Ancient order of the Hibernians' had been absorbed into the CYMS. Hibernian was the old Latin name for Ireland, and so it was decided, Hibernian Football Club, for the Edinburgh Irishmen, was born on 6th August 1875. Father Hannan was elected as manager of the new club with Michael Whelahan the first captain. Hibernians were to be run as very much an integral part of the CYMS, it followed then that as all the members of that organisation were Irish Catholics, so then would be the players of the new football club.

Football in Scotland at that time was in its infancy, it was very much an amateur sport played supposedly by 'gentlemen' - Hibernians were to change that thinking, in many ways it could be argued that this was the first working-class football club in what was to become very much the sport of the working class. Father Hannan might perhaps have saw this new football club as being one of his weapons in that ultimate desire to break down the barriers between the Edinburgh Irish and Scottish communities, but if he certainly learned quickly that if that was to happen it was going to take some considerable perseverance.





Michael Whelahan suggests to Father Hannan the idea of creating a football team that could serve the Irish community.

The idea is put forward at the next CYMS meeting, receiving positive approval.

Hannan helps Whelahan to form the football team as players are identified.

The team is initially given the name of Erin Go Bragh, 'Ireland Forever'. Michael Whelahan suggests the potentially less problematic name of 'Hibernians'.

Hibernians is officially formed on 6th August 1875. Father Hannan is elected as manager and Michael Whelahan as the first captain.

All future players of the new football club had to be Irish Catholics.


Written as part of 'The Origins of Hibernian' series

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