With St Patrick’s Day just around the corner, we caught up with Gavin Lawlor of Bahrain Irish Society to find out about the group and its activities.
How long has the Irish Society been running and what is the story of its establishment?
The society was formed in 1975, by a group of homesick Irish expats wanting to come together and have ‘the craic’! So, this is a big year for us, the 45th year of the Bahrain Irish Society. The society has grown from strength to strength over the years to become one of the most active expatriate societies in Bahrain. We have more than 300 members which includes families. All our events are well attended and not just by the Irish. We have members from many different nationalities and walks of life. What we like to say is: “If you have an interest in Irish sports and culture, then you’re more than welcome in the Bahrain Irish Society.”
What is the primary function?
We are a Bahrain-based organisation that supports local charities through fund raising. We raise funds by holding Irish-themed events in Bahrain throughout the year. We support a vast range of local charities, from animal welfare societies to the Migrant Workers.
Everyone knows about the St Patrick’s Ball but what else do members get up to during the rest of the year?
Yes, the St Patrick’s Day Ball is the highlight of our calendar but the society holds many events throughout the year. Kids’ horse riding, beach clean-ups, music seisiúns, quiz nights, race nights, breakfast movie mornings, the children’s Christmas Party and Paddies’ Picnic to name a few.
The AGM is coming up, can we expect many changes with so many people moving on?
The AGM is a time to reflect on the year just completed. There are a couple of places becoming available on the committee. We are interested in new blood joining the committee as it brings new dynamics. This year we are hoping to find people with an interest in bookkeeping, kids’ events and PR to come on board. The AGM is planned for the end of March.
Please tell us about this year’s ball – what’s in store and how come it is so early?
We decided to hold the ball a little earlier in March this year as we did not want to clash with the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. The ball is taking place on Thursday, March 5, at the Gulf Hotel. The St Patrick’s Day Ball is the most popular expatriate society event held in the Kingdom and over 600 tickets were taken within days of going on sale. The Bahrain Irish Society Committee strongly feels that this year’s ball will be a truly memorable and enjoyable evening. There is a great line-up of entertainment in store; the highlight for guests will be the appearance of hugely popular Irish band Catch 22 who are being specially flown in from Ireland for the event. In addition, Irish artist, Aaron Rowe, and Irish dance troupe, Unity, hailing from Scoil Rince an Chroí, are also flying in for the night.
The Bahrain Irish Society ensures that guests will experience how the Irish celebrate all major events in life and understand the unique tapestry of the Irish character inspired by the wonderful traditions of our colourful past. The theme for this year’s event is top secret and all the committee members’ lips are sealed.
The party goes on till the wee hours and we serve a traditional Irish Breakfast roll to any of the revellers still standing at sunrise.