A Long History of Service and Tradition
The Irish Social Club of Boston dates back to June 27, 1945, when it was first incorporated as a non-profit group by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It operated out of Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square, Roxbury, where the Club held Sunday afternoon ceili dances each week, created step dancing feisanna for children, and beginning in 1962, organized charter flights from Boston to Ireland for its members.
Founding members included Nora (O’Brien) Hart, the first president of the Irish Social Club, who died in 1946, and Mary Concannon, who was described as the ‘heart and soul of the organization’ until her death in 1975.
The early days of the Irish Social Club were vibrant, as returning GIs from World War II and a new generation of Irish immigrants vitalized the Boston Irish community. This was particularly true about Dudley Street in Roxbury where the Irish congregated.
A November 1945 story in the Irish World newspaper by columnist Eva Connor reported that over 500 people attended a recent Irish Social Club dance at Hibernian Hall. “A fine group of musicians furnished the music including Mrs. Nora McCarthy, Johnny Fitzgerald, James Concannon and Tom Senier,” she wrote.
Later, when Hibernian Hall shut down in the 1960s, the Irish Social Club shifted its events to Metropolitan Hall in Jamaica Plain, and then moved to its own club house at 79 Stanton Street in Dorchester, where it stayed until 1975. Then between 1975-1980 the Irish Social Club met at the T. J. Roberts American Legion Post in West Roxbury, according to the Irish Social Club’s literature.
On May 28, 1980, the Irish Social Club held its grand opening and formal dedication at its current home at 119 Park Street in West Roxbury. Speakers at the ceremony included Damien Boyle, vice-consulate of Ireland, Andrew J. Sheehan, president of the Irish Social Club, and Reverend James Harrold, S.M.A., Club Chaplain.
The program booklet at the dedication stated, “That this beautiful building was built without a mortgage, clearly indicates the magnitude and viability of the organization.”
At the height of its popularity, the club boasted 15,000 members, some from as far away as Florida and California. But in recent years, due to aging membership, competition from other Irish venues, and the gradual assimilation of the Irish into American society, the club dwindled and was nearly dissolved in April 2011.
Thanks to members and the local West Roxbury community, the club was revived in 2012 after a short closure for repairs and updating.
1st Vice President
Patrick “Doc” Walsh
2nd Vice President
Mary O’Malley Burke
Kendra Daly McCarthy
Mary O’Toole Gorman
Maggie Mulvey Kelly
Mary Margaret McGovern
Father Brendan Darcy, SMA