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The Irish

March 2012

AT The heart of this weekend’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations will, of course, be the Irish Centre in Wilford Street, better known simply as The Irish.
AT The heart of this weekend’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations will, of course, be the Irish Centre in Wilford Street, better known simply as The Irish.
But the fortunes of the club, which at one time was among the most popular student nightspots in the city centre, have dipped in recent years.
A change has been set in motion to return the club to past glories by David Murphy and Giovanni Sansone, who took charge last year.
“I used to go down The Irish when I was 17 in 1984,” says David.
“I loved it. The music was all the anthems like Happy Hour by The Housemartins, Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds and The Waterboys’ The Whole of the Moon.
“They had bands on upstairs on Fridays and Saturdays. And I remember when they started doing discos on a Friday night for students there was uproar from the Irish community because they’d stopped playing Irish music.”
He adds: “I’m from the Irish community. My dad and my friends’ dads used to work here on the weekends as volunteers.”
Although Giovanni is from an Italian family, the pair were brought together at the age of 11 at Catholic school.
“We met at the Becket School (in West Bridgford) and we’ve been best friends for 33 years,” says David, although they only started working together nine years ago.
Says David: “I worked in pubs as soon as I left school. Giovanni ran a door agency for 20 years.”
Together they ran Murphy’s in Upper Parliament Street and the bar at Ilkeston Town FC.
They still manage the Bath Inn in Sneinton and It’s In The Bank in Netherfield.
“We do a lot of outside catering as well,” says David.
“It seemed like the obvious thing to do and pull together.”
Which is what they’re doing at The Irish.
“Our vision is to recreate the nightclub as it was with 70s, 80s and 90s music.
“It was a phenomenal place to come for a night out.
“It used to take £20k every weekend up until about five years ago. It was doing phenomenal business.”
So what went wrong?
“The smoking ban and the recession hit hard. They had major money problems a few years ago and it was opening and closing time and again.”
Adds Giovanni: “We want to get the club back to its former glory.
“We’ve brought the club operation downstairs. The room holds 200 whereas upstairs holds 460. We’ve got that ready for private functions.
“And what was the members’ bar, which holds 120 people, is now the focus for all the Irish community events and meetings.”
They include Comalthas (traditional Irish music lessons, pronounced ‘col-thus’), an over-65s club, a golf society, pool teams, dance workshops and language classes.
“And we have the Bite To Eat sandwich shop open six days a week,” says Giovanni.
“We want to get the place firing on all cylinders.”
The ground floor nightclub is open every Friday and Saturday from 10pm.
“We sell pub price drinks and it’s free admission,” says David.
“We’re looking at doing an emergency services night for nurses, police, fire and ambulance staff because they used to be really popular back in the day.”
They’ve also hosted a few live events in the main room upstairs, including blues music from The Ian Siegel Band and An Audience With... show featuring former Forest European Cup winners John Robertson and Larry Lloyd.
“We would like student bands to start playing here. And it wouldn’t cost them to play. We’ll provide the PA. And we’re hoping to arrange a Battle of the Bands competition.”
He adds: “The whole place is available for private functions, such as wedding receptions or birthday parties.”
Growth has been steady over the past year.
Says David: “It’s just been about getting the word out. We had 170 in one night and it was phenomenal. We stood there and said ‘that’s it, they know we are here now’. But then the following Friday there were 29 people.”
They’ve seen a number of former students popping in to see the place.
“We’ve had 20 or 30 couples who have met here come back.
“There was one guy who said he met his first wife here while his second wife was buying the drinks.”

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