A club established 17 years ago to provide a social outlet for people of a certain age in Clonmel is still going strong.
The 55 Social Club meets every month, on a Friday, at The Coachman Lounge in Parnell Street, when members enjoy a night of music, singing and dancing.
However thereâ€™s more to the club than the monthly get-together, which not only offers entertainment but a sense of friendship and companionship to its members.
It makes an annual donation to a deserving local charity, which is funded through the monthly raffle and the membership fee of just â‚¬24 a year; day trips have been organised down the years; and an annual Mass is celebrated for deceased members.
â€œItâ€™s great value. Where else would you get such enjoyment and entertainment for just â‚¬2 a monthâ€, says committee member Kathleen Burke.
The club was the brainchild of the late Pat MacNamara and Jim Bermingham, who felt there was a void in the entertainment market for people over the age of 55.
At a meeting held in The Coachman the club was formed in May 1995. The Coachman has remained as its venue and the members are grateful to Jerry, Geraldine and Irene Shanahan and their staff for their hospitality. The first committee also included Eddie â€œTuckerâ€ Power, Eddie Kelleher, Mary Kavanagh, Mary McCormack, Alice Grant, Larry Oâ€™Riordan and Jackie Barry.
The club was an instant success. As its reputation for good times spread far and wide musicians including Sonny Knowles, Johnny McEvoy and TR Dallas travelled to Clonmel to entertain the members. Outings to Killarney, Mallow, Tramore and Mount Mellarey were held and every Christmas a donation is made to a local charity.
Those groups that have benefited from its generosity include the Society of St. Vincent de Paul; the Mayorâ€™s Fund; the Day Care Centre for the Elderly, in Irishtown; the Elm Park Residents Association; the Wheelchair Association; the Dolphin Swimming Club for the disabled; the Damien House Foundation and Carrick-on-Suir River Rescue.
The membership fee, which works out at â‚¬2 a month, includes entry to six free draws and members can buy tickets for six more draws.
â€œMembers get a great nightâ€™s entertainment for very little moneyâ€, says secretary Theresa Pyke. The chairman is Jackie Barry, Larry Oâ€™Riordan is treasurer and the committee includes Kathleen Burke, Pat Casey, Michael Pyke and Jackie Faulkner.
The annual Mass for deceased members is another significant date in the calendar. The Mass is celebrated each November and popular local vocal group The Gordonaires sang at this yearâ€™s Mass.
The club currently has between 60 and 70 members and new members are always welcome. They can join by contacting any of the committee or going to the monthly get-together. People from the age of 50 upwards are welcome.
The next event is the Christmas party at The Coachman on Friday, December 20, when Paddy Blanche will perform.