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UPDATED: Irish Social Club Closes Abruptly

"Sudden" decision to close shuts down the once very popular drinking and dancing establishment.

The of Boston closed abruptly this week after hosting its last event on Sunday night.

The club had been open for 65 years and once attracted folks in droves for live traditional Irish music, drinking, and dancing, but had been considered in decline for some time. Open only on Sunday nights and charging $10 for admission, there simply was not enough money coming in given the overhead costs, said club president Andy Sheehan.

According to Sheehan, the decision was abrupt and as such, customers were not made aware of the closing beforehand.

"It was sudden," he said.

Sheehan added that the plan going forward is to sell the club.

UPDATED: 6:25 p.m.

The Irish Social Club's lawyer, Paul Kilgarriff, told Patch that pressure from the Boston Fire Department and the State of Massachusetts to install a new, expensive fire detection and sprinkler system influenced the club to close.

The club had already been running out of money, Kilgarriff said, and had for the last several months been taking money from savings and that new members simply were not coming in. The cost of a new fire system, he said, would have been too much when the club was already struggling to pay overhead. And, he said, the club was fearful that if it did not close now it may come under a court order to install the system.

Central to the decision, though, was the very low influx of new members, a trend that has been going for "30 years or so," he said.

"The young Irish people are not coming in and the old members are just dying off," he said.

Kilgarriff said the club has not yet discussed exactly where the proceeds from a sale would go, but assured Patch that it would "not be going into anyone's pockets."

5:34 p.m.

West Roxbury resident Kathleen Adams, whose father Noel Daly spent several years as the club's president during its heyday talked about spending Sunday nights throughout her childhood at the club.

Adams heard that the club was closing late last week, not from club officers but by word of mouth. She said she is a bit puzzled -- and was certainly a bit surprised -- about the closing. A member of the club, she said that she wished there would have been some sort of a meeting to get people to help better run the club.

"If we could have had a meeting and said this is what's going on, maybe people would have stepped up," she said.

Irish stepdancing classes, holding events for a younger crowd on other nights, or perhaps by even just opening less frequently could all have helped the club sustain, Adams said. But, she said, Sheehan told her there will be no meeting amongst members to discuss these things and that the decision is final.

Adams said she has heard that the proceeds from the sale of the club, in accordance with its bylaws, would go to charity. 

West Roxbury Patch will have more to come on this story.

Brendan Adams April 20, 2011 at 10:40 PM
I find it hard to believe that a few elected Irish Social Club board members can decide the fate of an institution in the community without out input from members, the West Roxbury community or even make an attempt to fundraise and save the club.
T. Ryan April 21, 2011 at 12:28 AM
Same reason so many of the VFW, Legions, Elks, Eagles, are all shutting their doors. They blew off the fire sprinkler law and it's now catching up with them. Dedham VFW did it correctly, used the appeal process, gave up 12 seats in the rental hall, installed a new fire alarm system the state approved and is thriving. Too many waited to late.
Jonathan Cullen April 21, 2011 at 07:18 PM
There's no way this is going to happen, as long as the community gets involved. One of the problems is that the ISC hasn't done enough outreach to attract new and younger members. PLEASE JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP "SAVE THE IRISH SOCIAL CLUB OF BOSTON" http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/home.php?sk=group_143963639006386
David Ertischek (Editor) April 21, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Thank you for posting the Facebook page, Jonathan!
Michael Conneely April 22, 2011 at 08:08 PM
We need to pool some resouces. I agree with jon, no way.
Michael Conneely April 22, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Also, the irish Alehouse had the same problem and is now back on it's feet and seemingly thriving. I have an Engineer with the town of Brookline who has verbally agreed to discuss the issue.
Sarah Watts April 28, 2011 at 01:07 AM
Our non-profit rented the Irish Social Club last year for a fundraiser and we were astonished (and of course very pleased at the time) when they insisting on charging us only $150 for the entire night. ALL of the other venues of a similar size, (which was a dance for 550 people), charge upwards of $1,500 for one night. Some of them charge A LOT more. Our entire group LOVES the Irish Social Club and we were sad to hear that they were closing. We were looking forward to renting the dance hall again next fall, and we would have been more than pleased to pay $1000 for the privilege. Between the great size of the space, the friendly people, the ease of parking, the close proximity to public transportation, the dance floor, the kitchen, the stage, and all of the available seating, this place has a HUGE amount going for it as a rental facility, they simply need to charge what they are actually worth! What I would propose is that the building stay open as a rental facility, for all sorts of different events, including fundraisers, dances, weddings, cultural events, mini-trade shows, quinceaneras, birthday parties, bar or bat mitzvahs and so forth. Perhaps organizations who wanted to teach different kinds of weekly classes could rent the facility, knowing that they would have ample space. It would be particularly appealing to any groups who wish to do their own catering, or their own decorating, or their own music or show. With the money made, continue the Irish dances!
Sarah Watts April 28, 2011 at 01:10 AM
Many of the possible venues that we've seen either charge ridiculous rental amounts or they have compulsive & expensive catering. Or they couldn't hold enough people, or parking was going to be an issue... I can see the Irish Social Club as having the possibility of being a very popular rental venue for SO many reasons if it were marketed far more broadly then perhaps it has been. The Irish Social Club could be marketed far beyond the Irish community, serve a great many diverse people extremely well, and, as a result of becoming more financially sound, it could then continue its wonderful work in serving the Irish community. The event that my group held there was our annual Noche de Fiesta event, complete with salsa dancing lessons, two raffles, a magician, dinner and dessert. It was an absolutely wonderful experience, our best fundraising year yet out of 5 consecutive years of holding this event! It was the best year BECAUSE of the space and the friendliness of the Irish Social Club. We could not have asked for a more perfect match to our group's needs. If the Irish Social Club were to continue on, as I and ALL of the other members of my group sincerely hope that it will, we would be absolutely delighted to rent the facility in future years, this time for the money it's actually worth! Please forward this to all of the members of the Irish Social Club. There are a lot of great possibilities here!
Sarah Watts April 28, 2011 at 01:14 AM
One additional thought, perhaps the Irish Social Club could hold a big fundraising event in their own facility, making money from admission, donations, raffles and so on. It could raise money to put in a new sprinkler system. Perhaps licensed plumbers could volunteer time or donate materials towards the sprinkler system. Perhaps people could make pledges in terms of feet of copper tubing, or sponsor a sprinkler head. Get prominent citizens of Irish descent involved, Mayor Menino for example! Ask Irish businesses for tax-deductible donations. We have had wonderful donations from businesses, which have included, among other things, plane tickets, computers and Red Sox and Celtics tickets. (We work very hard at all of this! It's not easy, but it's always worth it!!!!) Perhaps prominent Irish artists could be approached to donate pieces of artwork that could then be sold in a silent auction. Or an Irish illustrator could offer use of their work on T-shirts, posters, greeting cards or posters that could be sold to benefit the Irish Social Club. (For that matter, perhaps it could be any artists, politicians or businesses that care about this cause.)
Sarah Watts April 28, 2011 at 01:20 AM
To give you an idea, we are a small group of highly dedicated parents, working as part time volunteers when we hold our fundraiser, and we raised around $12,000 in ONE night last year! Not HUGE, but not a small amount either. This money supplements our children's education and also helps to fund the arts in our school, for which there is no budget. It also helps a little to offset the rising budget cuts of the public schools. So in conclusion, if the Irish Social Club stayed open as a rental facility, what if they charged $1,000 on Friday and Saturday nights, $500 on weeknights, (to a diverse community) and continued their $10 a night Irish dances on Sundays. Then, let's say they hold a one time fundraiser, with the proceeds going to build a new sprinkler system. Would be great if they could stay in business and also have enough money to create other events which will appeal to younger Irish people, such as special Irish dance classes for children or adults, Irish music festivals, Irish art festivals, etcetera. Perhaps, over the course of time, the Irish Social Club can re-build their membership with a younger population and thrive once again. Sincerely, Sarah Watts
Richard Archer July 02, 2011 at 03:30 PM
The Irish Social Club is now well on it's way to stay open. On July 7th there will be an open meeting at 7 pm at the Social Club to make plans for a fund raiser on September 24th. There will also be an open registration for new members between 6-8pm on July 17th at the Irish Social Club. Please.. Tell your friends. Your help is needed. If we all chip in we can make it happen. Thanks, Richard Archer - President Knights and Ladies of St. Finbarr (Cork club)

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