AS THE Golden Shamrock Club prepares to celebrate 10 years of operation at the Nottingham Irish Centre in 2015, its founder Delia Sweeney told The Irish Post why it was created.
“While I was Chairperson of the Nottingham Irish Centre my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,” she said.
“That was a difficult time and I soon started to realise that it was things from her youth that she remembered the best. It got me thinking that a group for older members of the community, who might be lonely or isolated for any reason, but could reminisce together, could make a huge impact on their quality of life.”
So in 2005 Ms Sweeney, whose father hails from Co. Louth and mother from Co. Galway, set up the Golden Shamrock Club — a weekly afternoon luncheon club.
“There were no seniors clubs running at the Irish Centre at that time, so we launched the Golden Shamrock and advertised it in The Irish Post and local papers,” she explained.
“We were hoping to get maybe 25 people who would be interested, but were shocked to have 175 people sign up on the first day!
“Since then we have had a steady membership and the service has proved to be a vital space for lonely or isolated members of our community to meet up,” she added.
“Of course when they first started coming no one knew anyone, but now they are all great friends so there is a great atmosphere when they all come together every Tuesday.”
But for Ms Sweeney, who is among the large volunteer committee group which organises the Golden Shamrock Club, the most important aspect of their work is to provide a “social outlet” for their members.
“We offer lunch and bingo, entertainment, dancing and a range of things during the weekly session, which has become an important part of our members’ lives,” she said.
“We also have a yearly trip back to Ireland which is supported by local businessman John Doherty, which is a highlight for everyone.”
She adds: “But of our members, who are aged from 52 to 92, many live on their own and some have no family at all and if we were not here many would have nowhere else to go. So one of the most important things we provide is that social outlet for them.
“We at least can ensure they get out for one afternoon a week and get a good meal and spend time with other people, which is particularly important in the winter and around Christmas.”
The Golden Shamrock Club at Nottingham Irish Centre is always open to new members – both Irish and non-Irish. To join or for further information contact Delia Sweeney on 07941210715.