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Wellington Irish Society’s big day out

Mar 10th, 2009 | By | Category: Latest News, News

lillian1RENEWED interest from young Irish people living in Wellington has seen membership of the city’s Irish Society suddenly surge.

There are always people joining, says president Lillian Mackey, but membership stalled for some time and is only now starting to pick up again.

Now, many “young boys and girls” in their 20s are helping bolster the numbers.

Having had its 70th anniversary two weeks ago, the society has more than 150 members, describes itself as a “family club”, and is secular and non-political.

St Patrick’s Day celebrations will take place around Wellington on March 17, but festivities at the Irish Society clubrooms will be the most enthusiastic.

Ms Mackey says they will be opening early and have plenty of live traditional music and dancing.

“We’re very proud of our heritage,” she says, adding: “Everybody seems to celebrate it now. It’s good.”

Ms Mackey says some local Irish take the following day off as well, as that is when their compatriots are celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Ireland. “We all celebrate Patrick’s Day. We like to enjoy ourselves”

The current clubrooms at 10 Fifeshire Ave, off Cambridge Tce, have been the society’s home for more than 30 years.

Various traditional activities organised through the club include music, dance and even Gaelic football. “It’s important to keep the sport and music and dance alive.”

Having immigrated here 40 years ago, Ms Mackey has been involved with the society ever since, as secretary for more than two decades and president on and off for more than seven years.

Following an education in Dublin, she paid her own way to New Zealand after hearing from friends here that it was a “very good country”.

At the time of immigration there was a lot violence in her homeland, but she doesn’t like to talk about it and says she is non-political.

“My grandmother always said if you don’t talk about politics and religion you’ll always keep your friends.”

She has been in Wellington the whole time and has always been in employment, as she believes in a strong work ethic: “It is important to pay you own way and work for your money,” she says.

Some of the jobs she has held over the years include as a postie, caterer, and tea lady.

Ms Mackey, a senior citizen, always has to be busy. Along with the role as president she works in a casual capacity at the Wellington Convention Centre ushering and supervising ushers.

A bubbly person, she says she likes meeting people and is “quite a PR person”. She is the only one of her six siblings to live in New Zealand.

Having been back to Ireland “a few times,” the last was 3½ years ago when she said it would be her last time. Asked if she planned to return again she chuckles: “Will you send me back? If I win Lotto I’ll definitely go back!”

However, she says she loves Wellington: “the wind as well” and “wouldn’t go anywhere else”.

Anyone is welcome to join the local Irish contingent at the clubrooms from 3pm onwards to celebrate Saint Patricks Day.

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