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Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.
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A writer, blogger, and historian, born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, now based in London. read more
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No. 82, Eaton Square

In it’s long history, the address of No. 82 Eaton Square in London has housed a Major-General of the East Indian Cavalry, a Lord Strafford, a Lord Bagot, an Earl of Dalhousie, an Earl of Clare, a Duke of Bedford, and Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands — thankfully not all at once. It’s probably best know for its half-century as the Irish Club, a much-favoured drinking & smoking spot for the community of Gaels in London. The club was founded in 1947, with a number of pre-existing Irish clubs merging into it. George VI — grateful for the devoted service of the Irish who volunteered for his armed forces during the Second World War — heard that the club was in search of premises and asked the Duke of Westminster, one of the largest landowners in London, if he could help. The Duke provided the leasehold of No. 82 Eaton Square to the Irish Club for a nominal sum. (As it happens, the 4th Duke’s son served as a Unionist MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone, and later in the Northern Irish Senate).

“In its heyday,” the Irish Times reports, “it was a London venue where a pint of Guinness at the bar could be supped with anyone from a building contractor to an aristocrat — as long as there was Irish blood flowing through their veins.” The late Lord Longford (father of the renowned historian Thomas Pakenham, now the 8th Earl) was President of the club until his death. Irishmen such as Garrett Fitzgerald & Conor Cruise O’Brien were frequently found at the bar, and it was popular with Irish journalists as well. Henry Kelly, the radio and television broadcaster, remembered the evening of one IRA bombing in London:

We were having drinks with prime minister Ted Heath in Downing Street at the time and were looking for a lift back to the Irish Club, where we were staying. Gerry [Fitt, of the SDLP] insisted on ringing a local cab company from Heath’s office and spelt out D-O-W-N-I-N-G Street to the person on the end of the phone. All of a sudden, he turned around looking confused and blurted out: “Ted, Ted, what number on Downing Street is this?”

The Club began to find its Eaton Square home cumbersome, and in 2003 it sold up and moved to Tudor Street in Blackfriars. Now the building, designed by Thomas Cubitt, is being converted back into a single residence.

This post was published on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 3:24 pm. It has been categorised under Architecture Great Britain Ireland Netherlands and been tagged under , , .
Comments
  1. 24 December 2009
    1:49 pm

    If only every time a building erected in the 20th century came down in London a building of this merit was built to replace it – the face of London would be so fair.

  2. James Canning
    7 July 2014
    12:19 am

    Great piece!

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