Message from the President
The BIS is a historic icon in the St. John’s community established in 1806 and operated continuously ever since. We are a charitable, social and cultural society of like-minded individuals interested in all facets of Irish – NL Culture and Heritage which includes travel, genealogy, music, literature, history, etc.
In 1806, St. John’s was just a small fishing station with 5.500 inhabitants when a group of community minded Irishmen decided to come together to help their poorer neighbours and relatives with direct actions which included monetary, clothing and food donations up to and including building schools. Supporting the education of children has been a consistent objective of the society ever since 1823.
Membership in the Society was never about religion, politics, or, class and in 2019, the BIS officially removed any requirement for Irish ancestry. Our only requirements for membership is that you be 19 years of age and interested in any facet of Irish – NL Culture and Heritage. As you will note on the Become a Member page, your 1st calendar year will be a cost of 25.00 regardless of when you joined during the year. Each member then pays an annual fee to remain in good standing. The amount of the fee is set by the Executive Committee (currently 50.00 per year). The fee is due 01JAN and must be paid by 31MAR each year. After 30 years of continuous membership, members are designated Honorary Life Members (HLM) and are no longer required to pay the fee.
The BIS offers a number of services and programs to its members and the community at large:
Financial support to educational and charitable causes.
In 2009, the Benevolent Irish Society Charitable Foundation was established as a registered charitable corporation with the Canada Revenue Agency. Financial contributions to the foundation from donors are issued official receipts for income tax purposes. The primary beneficiary currently of the charitable foundation is the St. John’s School Lunch Association.
Promotion of Irish – Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) Culture and Heritage.
This objective was added to the organization’s constitution in 2009 and seeks to establish connections with organizations and cultural communities here in NL and Ireland. Public lectures and other events focus on the rich culture and heritage that has evolved in Newfoundland from our roots in Ireland.
The Society is also a member of the NL Irish Connections Board which organizes an annual travel event between Ireland and Newfoundland.
When we have Irish Scholars, Irish and NL Folklorists, Historians and Entertainers available, the BIS hosts events and encourages interaction between the speakers and the audience.
The BIS has and will host short courses delivered by knowledgeable experts on Irish History and connections with Newfoundland, Northern Ireland and the Troubles & Post Troubles, Genealogy, etc.
The BIS is currently working on projects to restore and conserve some of our oldest records which include Minutes of Meetings (MoM) going back to 1826. The plan is to digitize the records and make them available for research by everyone. The MoM Books will be given to the Provincial Archives at The Rooms for safekeeping and as refence material for researchers.
Social Activities for Members, Guests and the Public
During the course of the year, a number of events and activities are held. These include: A Dart League, a Monthly Bingo and Dinners and Dances throughout the year with a particular focus on Irish Week which is anchored by St. Patrick’s Day.
In addition, the BIS hosts Irish – NL Music events, Dinner Theatres, Open Mic gatherings of local amateur and professional musicians, Irish Dancing classes, etc.
There are also fundraising events where Members volunteer their time and talent to raise funds for the Charitable Foundation.
Rental of Clubrooms (Irish Hall)
The Society rents its clubrooms known as the Irish Hall to the general public for various functions such as Book and Album launches, Weddings, Parties, BBQ’s and Birthdays. We have a commercial kitchen with resident chef for full course meals, brunches and Buffets.
Rental rates, meal and beverage prices are very reasonable. Please contact us for further detail.
Jim Conroy, President