August 21, 2014

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Irish Heritage Club in Avon Lake closing

AVON LAKE — They won’t be saying “failte” or welcome much longer at the city’s Irish Heritage Club.

That’s because the center, which once hosted parties, receptions and cultural gatherings for hundreds of members will be closing in a few weeks.

An e-mail sent out Wednesday stated the club, which is located at 726 Avon-Belden Road, will shut down on the weekend of Dec. 15-16.

“The membership has been declining for years, especially after we ran into financial trouble,” Jeff Montgomery, a member of the social organization’s board, said in the e-mail.

“There has been a general lack of interest among the small number of members who remain, so the board decided to close the doors and the general membership agreed,” Montgomery wrote.

The club is believed to have numbered upwards of 1,000 members at its high point, according to Tony Ahern, owner of Ahern’s Banquet Center and Catering, a business that purchased the property some years ago and leased the pub located inside back to the club.

“Now they’re probably down to a few hundred members and a lot of those are lifetime members who have moved on, aren’t actively involved anymore” or have passed away Ahern said.

Club officials were not reached for comment, but Ahern said he believed the club had struggled for some time with membership numbers.

Ahern surmised part of the problem was an aging membership that wasn’t finding an adequate number of younger members or interest to replenish the ranks and keep the club going.

“There are three clubs like this in the Cleveland area,” Ahern said, including one on Cleveland’s east side, as well as the much larger Irish American Club in Olmsted Township.

“Part of the appeal is to older folks, and the economy certainly had something to do with it,” Ahern said. “People have better places to spend their money. It was a nice club, but it ran its course and has come to an end.”

Ahern said he believed the club was built in the early 1990s.

Prior to that, the organization met at the city’s library

Over the years, the club flourished enough that it was able to raise money to add a banquet room.

The Irish Heritage Club will be open for a Christmas party Dec. 15 and during the Cleveland Browns game Dec. 16.

The closing of the Irish Heritage Center, as the club is known, won’t affect the banquet and catering business, Ahern said.