History of Christchurch Irish Society

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.