While whiskey, Guinness and tall tales flowed at its last hurrah, a Latrobe Valley Irish association decided it was time to give back to the community which welcomed it 35 years ago.
After more than three decades of celebrating its heritage, the Latrobe Valley Irish Australian Cultural Association has chosen to fold and in doing so, distribute sums of $5000 to eight local organisations and a Melbourne-based Irish welfare group.
“It feels very, very good because the money was gathered up at the time we were going to start to build an Irish club and it was gathered up over a period of 20 of those 35 years,” Association member Eamonn McNulty said.
On the receiving end of the grants were Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund, Traralgon CFA, Mind Australia, Latrobe Regional Hospital’s soon-to-be-built mother and baby unit, Gippsland Rotary Centenary House, the Grow Foundation, the Motor Neuron Foundation and the Irish Welfare Bureau.
Throughout its years of operation, the club often held Irish dances and functions and even organised trips to Ireland for migrants.
“I think the biggest achievement was getting a lot of people together doing Irish dancing and going on a trip to Ireland,” Mr McNulty said.
“We were able to get two plane loads of people back to Ireland from Gippsland to discover their roots.”
Mr McNulty said like many ethnic associations in the Valley who have folded, club members were growing older, and younger members had integrated into Australian society.
“The fact is we’re all moving along, there’s no young ones coming, they’ve all more or less grown up and melted into the population,” Mr McNulty said.
In total, the association have given about $75,000 to non-profit organisations, with $25,000 also given to LRH for new equipment about a month ago.
“The best thing to do was to put the club in recess and give the money to local charities,” Mr McNulty said.
“It’s great to be giving money away and it’s very good it’s all being done locally and it will help people out less fortunate than ourselves.
“The only one that got money that wasn’t a local charity was the Irish Welfare Bureau in Melbourne who look after Irish people that have fallen on hard times.”