IT'S been going for more than forty years but this will be the last St Patrick’s Day celebrations at one Hampshire Irish club.
Eastleigh and District Irish Club will close next week.
President of the Eastleigh and District Irish Society Nick Ingram has been coming to the club for forty years but said there isn’t enough custom now to keep it going.
He said: “It’s terribly sad. I came here to England in 1972 from County Fermanagh. The club’s heyday was in the 1970s and early 80s when the M27 and M3 were being built. They were all Irish workers building the roads.
“But now we just don’t have enough people using the club to run it now. We may keep the society going but there’s not enough revenue for the club.”
According to Mr Ingram, Eastleigh borough council are interested in buying the building from the Irish club, whose members own it. He said: “It’s marked for redevelopment.”
He added: “I feel terrible about it. But all good things must come to an end and everything has a life.”
Meanwhile young dancers from the Boyle O’Dowda Academy of Irish Dancing performed for guests at the St Patrick’s night celebrations.
They have been taught by veteran Irish dance teacher Alice O’Dowda, who came to Hampshire herself 45 years ago and set up the school then.
Despite the decline in use of the club interest in Irish dancing has never waned, and had an extra boost due to the popularity of Michael Flatley’s Riverdance.
She said: “People used to just turn up and expect to be able to do it. I had to tell them these people were professional dancers who had been doing it from a very young age. But it’s still very popular.”
Mrs O’Dowda and her daughter Ailis O’Dowda Dall - who runs the dance school with her mum - are taking 40 young people to the Irish dancing world championships in three weeks’ time.
The club will close on March 24.