Historic Irish club in Wigan preparing to reopen after renovation
The new team in charge at the venue are hoping it will thrive in the latest chapter of its long story.
The Brian Boru Club, in Ashton is thought to be the oldest Irish club in the country, having originally opened its doors in 1889.
However, in the last decade or so it has found continuing to thrive increasingly difficult at a time when many social clubs and other social venues have closed for good.
The Ashton community will be able to see the fruits of their labours when the venue opens, which it is hoped will be later this month with the further easing of coronavirus regulations.
And the committee hopes the Bryn Street venue will impress those who have been visiting for many years as well as newcomers.
President Eamonn Delaney, 55, said: “I’ve been a member there for close on 40 years. The club’s been in existence since 1889.
“The last 10 years have been very difficult, there has been a steady decline. When I first started going in as a teenager it was mainly first generation Irish people who had come over looking for work.
“Their children were brought up in the club, learning Irish music, tradition and culture.
“A lot of that first generation have now died and it looked like Covid was going to put the final nail in the club. The writing was on the wall.
“We’re trying to breathe new life into it and keep it going. We’re looking to open without Covid restrictions and it has been all hands on deck. People have been amazing coming back to help.
“Everyone round Ashton knows the Brian Boru Club. We’ve got momentum now and a good sense of community which is quite exciting.
“In a funny way Covid has actually given people time to reflect, rethink the situation and have the chance to reach out to people.
“Rather than the club getting run into the ground and disappearing there has been a window of opportunity to bring in younger members and new ideas.”
Eamonn was one of several people who was contacted during the pandemic by former officials to see if a group of them could be formed to take on the running of the club.
The venue has been given an extensive renovation, with Eamonn and the rest of the trustees hoping to create more of a contemporary feel and tap into the ongoing popularity of the drinking culture on the Emerald Isle.
He said: “People still enjoy Irish pubs and we want to bring in those younger generations.
“It won’t be a classic pub but there will be elements of it.
“We want it to be somewhere people will just want to go in for a drink and to socialise.”
However, despite some modernisation the club is still extremely proud of its long history and will be showcasing it.
The new team in charge has been hunting through the cellars and lofts for artefacts including trophies from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s which are going on display.
The volunteers running it also provide a community venue, with Irish dancing sessions on Monday afternoons and community care.
The team is keen to get the word out that people can look to put on activities for residents at the club.
Eamonn said a number of local residents and businesses had supported the revamp by volunteering their time to help or doing jobs for just the cost of the materials and thanked them for their generosity.
The club committee is now hoping to reopen the venue on July 23.
For more information visit www.brianboruclub.com
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