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How the Canberra Irish Club turned its fortunes around

Tim Gavel 22 November 2019 52
Canberra Irish Club

Canberra Irish Club at Weston Creek. Photos: Supplied.

About 18 months ago, things weren’t looking good for the Canberra Irish Club. After six years of losses their financial position was looking dire.

In fact, it was so dire, the Club that has been operating out of its Weston Creek premises since 1986 was, according to President Mary Collier, on the brink of folding.

“We were very close to closing our doors,” remembers Mary. “Other clubs were circling, looking to take it over.”

It was at this point that the board decided on a course of action that would reinvigorate the club.

Mary Collier, President of the Canberra Irish Club. Photo: Supplied.

Mary Collier, President of the Canberra Irish Club and one of six women on the Club’s board.

They opted to return to the origins of why the club was established in the first place – as Canberra’s home of Irish culture, fostering Irish/Australian relations. It effectively gave the club a point of difference with Irish film nights, Irish dances, Irish music and an Irish cultural festival. This became the focus to get people back to the club for very grounded reasons.

“We’re different from other clubs. We want people to get an Irish experience,” says Mary.

The result has been a significant turnaround in the fortunes of the Irish Club. “We had losses for seven straight years and this financial year we made a profit. People who drifted away are now coming back.”

Vice-president Shauna Lodding, now in her third year on the board, says it’s great to have a profit for the first time in eight years.

“I wouldn’t say we are totally out of the woods. We still have debt to pay off but we are heading in the right direction.”

Shauna Lodding. Photo: Supplied.

Shauna Lodding, Vice-president of the Canberra Irish Club.

Shauna, a third-generation Australian of Irish heritage, says the board is made up of people who are passionate about the community.

She says she became involved after a long association with the club. “Our family have been members for many years. It’s our local community club. When I saw things weren’t going well, I wanted to help turn things around.”

Another point of difference at the Irish Club is the number of women on the board with six of the nine board members being women, which is unusual in an industry usually dominated by men.

“It’s about having a passion. Whether you are male or female, it doesn’t matter,” says Shauna, who acknowledges that “traditionally in the club industry there haven’t been a lot of women involved”.

It would appear as though this combination of a board prepared to make tough decisions, an astute manager, and a desire within the community for a unique experience has turned around the fortunes of the club.


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52 Responses to How the Canberra Irish Club turned its fortunes around
Ron Norton Ron Norton 10:25 am 29 Nov 19

Great to see Irish music and Irish food back.

Christian Moreno Christian Moreno 9:27 am 29 Nov 19

Pat McCartney all the pub lunches you've had has brought it back

William Gloster William Gloster 2:06 pm 28 Nov 19

Aidan Crellin Geoffrey Jackson one for you boys.

Ed Hallissey Ed Hallissey 8:42 pm 27 Nov 19

Tom Hallissey all the electric work turned the club around

    Tom Hallissey Tom Hallissey 8:45 pm 27 Nov 19

    Ed Hallissey lifetime members turned the club around

    Ed Hallissey Ed Hallissey 6:53 am 28 Nov 19

    Joseph Trib congrats you just secured yourself a life ban

Phil Henderson Phil Henderson 9:57 am 25 Nov 19

Got rid of Louise Lawson

Tory Rawlinson Tory Rawlinson 7:56 am 25 Nov 19

Hello Mary Collier. Well done.

Jennifer Wittwer Jennifer Wittwer 4:23 pm 24 Nov 19

Paul Lander well done!

Glenn Sindel Glenn Sindel 3:02 pm 24 Nov 19

Steven Hoefel good old iro

    Steven Hoefel Steven Hoefel 5:40 pm 24 Nov 19

    Glenn Sindel what do you want sing tonight? After a parma, of course.

    Glenn Sindel Glenn Sindel 6:36 pm 24 Nov 19

    Steven Hoefel 😝😝😝 you use to like

    love shack and we all had to sing bohemian Rhapsody 

    Glenn Sindel Glenn Sindel 6:51 pm 24 Nov 19

    Ground control to major tom

    Steven Hoefel Steven Hoefel 9:32 pm 25 Nov 19

    Glenn Sindel getting jiggy wit it. When Rodger Hoefel would attend

    Glenn Sindel Glenn Sindel 9:40 pm 25 Nov 19

    Steven Hoefel man we had some good times there

    Rodger Hoefel Rodger Hoefel 8:39 pm 26 Nov 19

    we'll have to do an iro reunion one day Glenn Sindel & Steven Hoefel

    Steven Hoefel Steven Hoefel 8:40 pm 26 Nov 19

    Rodger Hoefel yes. Yes we will.

    Glenn Sindel Glenn Sindel 8:58 pm 26 Nov 19

    Count me in guys

    Glenn Sindel Glenn Sindel 8:58 pm 26 Nov 19

    Have to drink beer from jugs but 😆😆

Mandy Cox Mandy Cox 12:53 pm 24 Nov 19

I reckon the Thurs night trivia, which increased numbers, last year to to another club axing theirs, has made a differ

ence. We all eat and drink as well as brain strain. I glad the club is turning around it deserves to.

Shae Dasanayaka Shae Dasanayaka 8:10 am 24 Nov 19

Lol no it’s just cos you moved to Canberra Mark McManus

Kirsten Whatson Kirsten Whatson 7:38 pm 23 Nov 19

Trevor Keatch

Show Martin x

Eve Cullen Eve Cullen 3:11 pm 23 Nov 19

A lot of hard work from all involved, board and staff. Thanks for all your efforts, great news story.

Helen Lyons Helen Lyons 6:54 am 23 Nov 19

Well done to all involved at the Irish Club - we too have had a long association with the club and it is great to hear of the success.

Jane Slack-Smith Jane Slack-Smith 11:25 pm 22 Nov 19

Monday night member steak nights are the best goddamn value. Who wants to cook on a Monday (bar public holidays). It's a staple.

The staff are the best people and remember you. This place is it.

Catherine Alexander Catherine Alexander 11:11 pm 22 Nov 19

Well done Canberra Irish Club. Great little venue full of big hearts.

Leigh Merrington Leigh Merrington 10:41 pm 22 Nov 19

Alison Merrington is this your old local?

Kim Ulrick Kim Ulrick 7:57 pm 22 Nov 19

Great club

Wilson Butterworth Wilson Butterworth 7:48 pm 22 Nov 19

More chilly paying again.

Rod Finnigan Rod Finnigan 6:58 pm 22 Nov 19

I remember when it was called the Teacher's Club 👍

Jean-Baptiste Spahr Jean-Baptiste Spahr 5:58 pm 22 Nov 19

Tinley Harper Hannah Blewitt-Gray the old stomping ground

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