A BUSTLING programme of events and cultural activities planned for the Irish community in the north east of England has kicked off with gusto this year.
The Felling Irish Associationlaunched their 2015 programme with an impressive night of entertainment marking St Patrick’s Day last month – the first of many events the organisation, in partnership with its sister group the South of the Tyne Irish Society, have planned for the year ahead.
“Our 2015 programme got off to a flying start with a dynamic night of music and entertainment to celebrate St Patrick's Day in style at The Holly Hill Club in Felling, Gateshead last month,” Des Costello, who is the Chairman of both groups, told The Irish Post this week.
“The night opened with an impressive performance from The Geordie Shamrocks - the FIA's very own Youth Celidh band – before legendary Irish troubadour, Leo Connolly, charmed everyone with his inimitable cameo of traditional Irish favourites,” Mr Costello added.
“The half-time interval gave the audience the opportunity to enjoy another high-octane set of dances from the Kelly Hendry School of Irish Dancing - including their famous Irish dancing version of YouTube sensation Gangnam Style,” he added, “which was the school's final appearance in Britain before setting off to compete in this week's World Irish Dance Championships in Montreal, so it gave everyone the chance to wish them good luck.”
Founded in 2008, the Felling Irish Association currently boasts more than 1,000 members and dedicates itself to promoting “Irish culture, customs and traditions across the North East”.
It proved so popular with the Irish based south of the River Tyne, that sister organisation the South of the Tyne Society was also formed.
With their St Patrick’s Day event, which was part sponsored by Tourism Ireland, raising £700 for the local St Patrick's Church Refurbishment Fund and £300 for Cancer Research, the FIA is confident that such success will continue across their activities planned for this year.
“It was a great start to the year for the Felling Irish, so roll on the rest of 2015,” Mr Costello added.
This month the FIA and SOTS will each sponsor a candidate at the Newcastle & Gateshead Rose of Tralee selection night, which is due to take place at the Jury's Inn hotel in Gateshead.