The Irish Social Club is ready for the future

Jackie Gentile, Special to the Reporter
Feb. 7, 2013

The Irish Social Club of Boston is back and offering a thousand welcomes to members, guests, and inquisitive minds alike at its West Roxbury home. The club acquired a permanent liquor license early last month and so the 119 Park St. fixture, which earlier had obtained an entertainment license, is once again open for business.

Temporary operating licenses had been keeping the club afloat after its unexpected closure in April 2011, but the time-limited permits are very. When the liquor license was okayed, that meant a green light for the serving of all alcoholic beverages seven days a week until 1 a.m., while the entertainment permit allows the club to host musical acts and allow television programming, among other activities.
The liquor license application made its way to the Alcohol and Beverages Control Commission via the West Roxbury community, the City Council, the mayor’s office, the Senate, the House, and, finally, the governor’s office. This was no mean feat.

“I mean, this was a big deal!” said Mary Mulvey Jacobson, the club’s corresponding secretary. “Now we can breathe and [plan to] make sure that something like this never happens again.”

After seeing the kind of outpouring that came from their local constituencies, elected officials threw their weight behind the Social Club’s cause. All 13 City Council members, including original advocates President Steve Murphy, Matt O’Malley, and John Connolly, supported the licensure, as did state Rep. Ed Coppinger and state Sen. Mike Rush.

According to its website, the club at one time boasted 15,000 members. Although the roster lists some 800 names now, Jacobson, who is also the president of the West Roxbury Business and Professional Association, is confident that the membership will continue to build up further in due time.
She and other officers also want to find new ways of preserving Irish culture, music, art, and history. Their ears are open and listening. “You make this your club,” Jacobson added. “So come and let us know what you’re thinking.”

“We’ll be able to really get the club up and rolling for what it should be – an Irish organization,” said club president Mary Maloney. She and Kathi Sullivan, whose title Jacobson gave as Volunteer Extraordinaire, picked up the license from City Hall. It “means so very much,” Maloney said. “It has given us the opportunity to bring the Club up to standard.”

Member and fund-raising leader Kathleen Daley Adams is another powerhouse who has played an integfral role in keeping the club alive through the toughest of recent times. Mulvey Jacobson described her as the “catalyst” who, upon hearing of the club’s closing, said, “Over my dead body.”

Founded in 1945 by Mary Concannon and inaugural president Nora Hart, the Irish Social Club’s first home was in Dudley Square’s Hibernian Hall where folks participated in ceili dances, Irish step, and evenings with local musicians. Starting in 1962, the organization began offering members charter flights to Ireland.

After Hibernian Hall shut down in the 1960s, the club’s next stop was on Stanton Street in Dorchester where it stayed through 1975. From then until 1980, events were held at the West Roxbury American Legion Post until a permanent home was found on Park Street in May 1980.

Renovations have already begun with two of the club’s four bathrooms having been rehabbed. The kitchen will be remodeled and the ceiling tiles and carpeting will be replaced. There is a new sound system and TV already in place as well.

“It’s a blank slate,” Jacobson said. “The mindset is there to be welcoming and open and bringing in new people and meshing and melding with the community.”

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