During the decade from 1845 to 1855, over a million Irish men and women came to America. Among these,many thousands came from Cavan. For the most part they were penniless, unskilled and friendless,landing in a climate of prejudice and discrimination, after having survived the black years of the great hunger (An Gorta Mor), witnessing shiploads of grain taken away from their country by their “benevolent” neighbors, and surviving the coffin-ships,we can only assume that they were a hard bunch of men and women.These were the people who worked our mines and built our railroads and canals, laying the foundation for the great industrial revolution that was dawning. It was inconceivable to them that any government would help them. After all the only government they had ever known was an alien one which left them tenants-at-will on their own land. Self-help was the only avenue open to them. In a alien country, far from home and family, they came together to form an organization which would foster a spirit of fraternity and where they might help each other in time of need

In 1848, a small group of these exiles formed what is known today as The Cavan Protective & Benevolent Association. The cavanmen boast the oldest county association in the U.S; the first written record concerning the cavan association in New York ia in an official program for an Annual Ball celebrating its 35 Anniversary in 1883. The Ball was held in Tammany, hall located on lower Fourth Avenue in New York City.The program lists a large committee representative of every parish in cavan. The price of admission was twenty-five cents, probably a day’s pay for most of those attending.

Apparently, in the late 1800’s, a rift developed in the association with two rival groups emerging. The group which  became dominant and attracted new blood was known as The Cavan Young Men’s Association. It was incorporated in the state of New York on March 19th 1891 and existed under that name until January 10th 1911. By a vote of 21 for and 18 against the name was changed to The Cavan Men’s Protective & Benevolent Association.

Although the Constitution of the Association has been amended occasionally to keep in line with changing times, its primary goals remain unaltered. These goals are to foster a spirit of friendship among the members, and to help them and their families in time of sickness and death.