The Irish National Association was formed in Sydney on 27 July 1915 to encourage all aspects of Irish culture – the use of language, Irish music and dancing, literature and distinctive sports such as Gaelic Football.
“To foster an Irish spirit” was and remains a key objective of our organisation, and for 100 years we have supported the Irish Australian community and new Irish migrants.
The Irish Cultural Centre (our current headquarters) was opened at 64 Devonshire St in 1956 and became the place to dance, hear music and speak Irish. The Irish language was always supported by the INA, and today Gaeilge is taught at Devonshire St by The Scoil na Gaeilge Sydney. Weekly dances had been held from the 1940s at St Benedict’s on Broadway, and when the Irish Cultural Centre opened the dances moved there. Step dancing continues to this day through dancing classes with the Dwyer-Whelan Academy of Irish Dance.
From its foundation, the INA also supported the independence of Ireland. The INA Sydney branch was named for Pádraig Pearse, one of the leaders of the Easter 1916 Rising. We continue to organise an Easter ceremony at the 1798 Memorial in Waverley Cemetery, which commemorates Irish people who have struggled for independence since the 1798 rebellion.
With the opening in 1973 of the Gaelic Club, 64 Devonshire St became a social focus for the Irish community in Sydney, welcoming locals of Irish heritage, Irish-born Australians, Irish visitors and new migrants alike.
In 1979, we revived the Sydney St Patrick’s Day parade which continues to see Sydney ‘go green’ every 17th March.
We continue to foster Irish spirit and culture through activities at Devonshire St and through other organisations such as the Irish Film Festival, and we continue to maintain the 1798 Memorial and the Albert Dryer Memorial Library of books on Irish language, history and culture.