Club unites Irish expats

ESTHER ASH-COVENTRY
Last updated 05:00 28/07/2014
timaru south canterbury irish society mary langton,  cillian, noah, maggie stevenson luke ciaran o'reilly saorise
ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY

TO BE SURE: Members of the newly formed South Canterbury Irish Society at the Caroline Bay playground. From left, Mary Langton with her baby Cillian, 10 months, on the swing, Noah, 8, his mum Maggie Stevenson and brother Luke, 11, Ciaran O'Reilly behind his daughter Cadhla, 2, on the swing, Muireann, 8, her mum Michelle O'Reilly and sister Saoirse, 3 , on the swing.

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Two Irish women living in Timaru have started a social club for other Irish expats.

The inaugural get-together on Friday night at the Sail & Anchor was attended by 16 Irish people.

Mary Langton and Maggie Stevenson separately emigrated to New Zealand in 2007 and became friends.

Langton said they wanted their children to learn the culture of their mothers' homeland.

They were pleased with the turnout on Friday.

"We just want to get the word out there [about the group]," Langton said.

She sees the social club as a support group and a vehicle for teaching Irish games and dancing to the next generation.

Langton, who comes from Kildare outside Dublin, said she missed some of the local shops, especially Irish clothing chain Penneys, and found food quite expensive here.

Skype meant she could keep in touch with her family regularly.

"I love the weather here and the opportunities for the kids. It's a home away from home, there are not many differences [between here and Ireland]."

Sheltered from the Troubles in the north of Ireland, Langton said she grew up as a Catholic with Protestant neighbours but there was no animosity between them.

The two women have not decided what shape next month's South Canterbury Irish Society social club meeting will take but plan to advertise it.

They said local support from Barney Cahill at the Sail & Anchor and the offer of the Celtic clubrooms for future events had been "grand".

For more information visit facebook page: SCirishsociety

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- The Timaru Herald

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