11:24AM, Thursday 07 July 2016
Community spirit and a family friendly environment has been the pride of the Slough Irish Club since it was founded 42 years ago.
The Sheehy Way based club is now keen to reach out to new members of any nationality.
“A lot of people have the perception that because it’s an Irish club you have to be Irish to join,” said the club's secretary Pat Mangan.
“We’re trying to make everyone feel a part of it.”
"We have a lot of people here, Welsh, Scottish, English, anyone is welcome as long as they behave."
Pat, who is one of 14 club committee members, explained the history of the club which was founded in 1974.
The 68-year-old, who moved to England in the 1960s, said: "It all happened on a Sunday morning after mass. A group of Irish people got together and decided that they would really like to open an Irish club, there wasn’t really anything like that in Slough.
“It’s been the hub of the community since and if it wasn’t here there wouldn’t be anywhere else to go.
“I don’t drink so a pub means nothing to me. This is more about being a place for meeting people and making friends.”
Since before the club was founded in 1974, members of the Slough’s Irish community helped support each other which continues to this day.
People pooled money together to support those who lost their jobs or were put out of work due to sickness, which club members still do.
During the 1960s and 70s the club went to great efforts to support the families of Irish construction workers in Slough who were involved in work related accidents.
"That community spirit is definitely still here, if we hear of anyone who is in any financial difficulties or personal troubles we’ll always try and do something," said Pat.
The club now has between 400 and 500 members.
Bridget Wade, who was recently appointed as the club's full-time stewardess in June, added: “It’s very rare that someone in the Slough Irish community doesn’t have a christening, wedding or funeral in here.
“My dad was president of the club in the 70s and I used to come in here when I was 11 and be the glass collectors, I was behind the bar for years. We all grew up together here really."
Bridget has done a lot already to expand the club's activities since she joined last month.
The club offers a range of activities for members including Irish dance lessons, a chance to play in the club's football team, karaoke nights and children’s parties.
It has a new pool team starting next week, a winter darts team, a monthly quiz night and elderly residents' bingo.
Non-members are free to come in for a drink and watch sports at the clubhouse bar.
Bridget is particularly keen on getting more elderly residents involved.
The 47-year-old added: "They’ve got nowhere really to go, they’re running out of places to go because of cuts so this place is perfect for them.”
Visit www.sloughirishclub.com for more information.
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