The Christchurch Irish Society extends a warm welcome to all Irish people, those of Irish heritage and those who identify as Irish
The society was established in 1948 to promote Irish culture, to support the Irish community and to strengthen the bonds of friendship between the Irish people and the people of Christchurch, many of whose descendants hail from Ireland.
There is now a thriving Irish immigrant community in Christchurch and over the coming years, as the garden city continues its path to rebuild the city, the Irish Society looks forward to welcoming many new members through its doors.
Our mission is to promote understanding and development of Irish culture while fostering bonds of friendship with other Irish communities throughout New Zealand. We strive to promote friendship and support within the Irish community in Christchurch, and to provide a place where Irish people and their friends can meet and socialise.
In 1947 the then Taoiseach Éamon de Valera visited the North Island of New Zealand. Unfortunately no Irish organisation had yet been established in the South Island that could receive an Irish dignitary and therefore he did not visit Christchurch
So it was that in 1948 the Christchurch Irish Society was formed and held it’s first general meeting in May.
There were six founding members: Paddy Kissane, Jim McGill, Bill Hickey, Bob Kelleher, Jack McSweeney and Jack Maloney.
Jack Maloney had been involved in the 1916 uprising in Dublin, had been arrested by British forces and interned in a prison camp. He subsequently went on hunger strike for thirty six days before being released after the intervention of a friendly nation. Jack was also the last of the founding members to eventually pass away.
It took until around 1955 for St. Asaph Street site of the Irish Society to be chosen and that property purchased for £1,750. Later the adjoining property was also purchased as the original property was not large enough to accommodate the planned Irish Society hall. The hall was built and officially opened on the 21st October 1961 by the Deputy Mayor of Christchurch, Mr C.R. Smith.
The current site of the society in Domain Terrace was opened in 1978 and the St. Asaph Street property was sold as it was no longer fit for purpose.