Brugh Phadraig 75th Commemorative Mass

Pictured: Some former members organising this event, left to right: Pat Carroll, Eamonn Thomas, Jimmy Purdy, Michael McDermott and Henry Kelly at the Alexandra Hotel.

Pictured: Some former members organising this event, left to right: Pat Carroll, Eamonn Thomas, Jimmy Purdy, Michael McDermott and Henry Kelly at the Alexandra Hotel.

On Sunday, 8th May 2016, Brugh Phadraig will celebrate its 75th year, (1941-2016), with a special commemorative mass celebrated by Bishop James Moriarty, former Club Chaplain, for all the deceased members, leaders and chaplains in St Andrew’s Church, Westland Row at 11.30am.

The mass will be followed by a ‘meet and greet’ celebratory lunch in the nearby Alexandra hotel, Fenian Street, Dublin 2.

Brugh Phadraig was set up as a ‘boys club’ – it opened on the 8th May 1941 in a premises in Upper Mount Street for young boys in the inner city, south side Dublin. The age group it catered for was 13 – 18 years of age. Principally the membership came from Pearse Street, Macken Street, Holles Street, Hogan Place, Eblana Villas, Townsend Street, City Quay and surrounding districts.

‘The Brugh’ was set up under the guidance of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid and financed by the Comhairle Leas Oige (City of Dublin Vocational Educational Committee).

The Bishop arranged that it would be run by the Legion of Mary who provided Young Leaders, (men and women), who were popularly known and called ‘brothers and sisters.’

The Bishop also appointed a club chaplain to run and oversee its religious affairs and general management.

The club shared a four-storey house in Upper Mount Street with the Mount Street Technical School. The activities provided were carpentry/woodwork, boot repairing/leather work and arts and crafts all under the supervision of part-time qualified teachers. The club opened six nights a week – Monday to Saturday, and Sunday night for films.

Every month, the boys attended a club sodality and they also had a yearly retreat.

Recreational facilities in the club included a library, table tennis, snooker, board games, club canteen, gym, drama, learning how to swim weekly at Tara Street baths, photography and seven football teams; and in the summer months, holiday camps were arranged usually in Bord na Móna hostels.

Every year in the month of February was given over to parents’ night for four nights, where the boys provided a three and half hour variety show on the club stage, by way of drama, comedy, singing, dancing and lots of fun and laughter.

Because of the club’s popularity, the membership increased to 150 boys and eventually in 1953 the club moved to a bigger stand alone five-storey Georgian house in Herbert Street.

The membership was then extended to other areas, such as Ringsend, Bath Avenue, Irishtown, Pidgeon House Road and surrounding areas; and at its peak, membership grew to over 250 boys. Dancing was also introduced at the start of the ‘swinging 60s’ for the 16 – 18 year old age group.

‘The Lasair’
‘The Lasair’ was the old club newspaper published weekly by the club chaplain and leaders from September to May, covering such topics as Religion, Chaplain’s Page, Letters, Football Reports and Club Affairs from 1941 to the club’s closure 1982.

‘The Lasair’ contained many and varied articles and all the boys bought it principally to see if their names were mentioned in the various football, table tennis and swimming reports. Now, into the 21st century, whenever any past members meet at all the social and funeral occasions they invariably talk about the famous weekly Lasair and what it meant to them.

Happily, all the old copies of ‘The Lasair’ now have a new permanent home in Pearse Street Library for any members wishing to relive the past – a trip down memory lane.

Brugh Phadraig closed its doors in the 1981/82 season because of falling attendances from new membership who claimed it was too far to walk or travel from where they lived. Alas, changing times.

A very big thank you to some of the well-known chaplains who served in ‘the Brugh’: Father Murray, Father McCabe, Father Con Breen, Father Peter Lemass, Bishop Jim Moriarty and Father Dermot Clarke; and of course ‘the Brugh’ would never have functioned without the youth leaders who gave generously of their time, to inspire others by their own example in helping to provide discipline, direction, fun and laughter to thousands of young boys into manhood.

As a former Brugh Phadraig member and youth leader, I am still in contact with many of the members of ‘yester-year’ and they all proclaim ‘the Brugh’ was not just a youth centre, but an institution that made life-long friends to be cherished.

By Eamonn Thomas