Welcome to The Irish Society of East Anglia

Here is a message from the president

Dear Irish Society Members,

I hope you are all keeping safe and well in these challenging times. The Irish Society Committee have recently started to meet via Zoom. The committee have decided to extend the membership period for all paid up 2020 members to November 2021. We felt it would be unfair to ask members to renew this November as we have had to cancel events for the foreseeable future due to the current pandemic.

As you are aware we had to take the difficult decision to cancel our St. Patrick's Day Lunch in March . In the long history of the society this has only happened during the war years in the last century.

We have pencilled in our Xmas lunch for Sat. 12th December 2020 but of course this is subject to government and public health advice nearer the time.

As a committee we are keeping in touch over the coming weeks and months and will be monitoring the situation regarding government and public health announcements. If there is anything viable that we can plan in line with restrictions we will do so. For example a committee member suggested an outdoor event such as a picnic at the coast or similar with social distancing should restrictions on public meetings in the outdoors be lifted.

Regarding 2021 our proposed programme is as follows: St. Patrick's Day lunch on March 17th, a golf day in May, a visit to Fakenham Races in conjunction with the British Legion in May/June, a walking tour in Norwich with a blue badge guide in June, an afternoon tea in July and October, our Quiz and Chips night in November, and our Christmas lunch in December.

Any comments or suggestions by members would be most welcome.

I am very happy to remain as President for 2021 and have proposed that the Society continues to support the Norwich Branch of the Samaritans as our charity. It is a very worthy cause and close to my heart.

I will continue to keep in touch with you via email and keep you informed of any decisions at Committee Meetings. You are most welcome to contact any of us with any proposal or suggestion.

On behalf of us all I wish to extend best wishes for keeping safe and well.


Founded in 1891

Céad Míle Fáilte

Thank you/go raibh maith agat for visiting the website of The Irish Society of East Anglia.

We are a based in Norwich, Norfolk, England. Our aim is to promote all things Irish.

The Society was formed on St Patrick’s Day 1891 by a small body of Irishmen who assembled at the old Central Café on Orford Hill, Norwich. Membership at that time was confined to ‘Gentlemen of Irish birth’ and the Society’s objectives were:-

  • the cultivation of a fraternal spirit among its members.
  • the relief of any person of Irish birth or parentage reduced to a state of need
  • the holding of an annual dinner on St Patrick’s Day each year.

Our first dinner was held at The Maid’s Head Hotel, Norwich on St. Patrick’s Day 1892, when twenty-five gentlemen attended. Since then the society continued with varying success until 1914 during which time many men, notable in various walks of East Anglian life – Clergymen, Lawyers Doctors, Officers and Members of parliament were among its members.

At the outbreak of the war in 1914 all the Society’s members – with the exception of the old and incapacitated – took up war service; thus the society became dormant and (for the first time in 25 years) no annual dinner was held on St. Patrick’s Day 1915.

Following the Great War very few of the original members were left and it wasn’t until 1926 before the Society was successfully re-established. Since that date, despite the heavy toll of members lost in the Second World War steady progress has been maintained.

Archive records (we still have the minutes of every committee meeting – a rich resource on the influence of Irish culture in Norfolk life…) show that in the late thirties debate took place over an application from ‘The Norwich Society of Saint Patrick’ for a merger of the two societies. It was noted that this latter body was more of a ‘working class’ organisation and their application was defeated! NOTE: The Norwich Society of Saint Patrick ceased to exist shortly thereafter.

During the Second World War the ordinary activities of the Society were suspended but in the years 1940- 1943 dances were held in ‘The Samson & Hercules’ in support of various war charities. As a result the British Red Cross Society, Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Norfolk War Charities and the Prisoners War Fund each received sums of money…. and thus began our tradition of raising money for charity.

Full activities were resumed in 1948 and since then the St. Patrick’s Day annual dinner and dance has become a notable event – but no longer just for ‘gentlemen of Irish descent’. In moving with the times membership was gradually changing and soon women were allowed to join, then it was families, then for a while there was a category for ‘friends’. Nowadays anyone in East Anglia who has an interest in things Irish – our music and culture, can join The Irish Society of East Anglia.

Today our Society has around 130 families in membership at any one time. We organise and celebrate our culture through many events including Traditional Days, Cultural Nights when possible, Irish Dancing classes for children, Set Dancing classes for adults, Golf outings, Horse Racing outing,afternoon tea. Of course we also enjoy celebrating the big day itself – St Patrick’s Day.

Irish dance classes


Find out about Irish set dancing classes taking place in Norwich. Great exercise and a lovely way to meet new friends.

Irish Society events


Take a look at our forthcoming events taking place soon.
Next Event: Society Golf Day on Saturday 2nd May.