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Our History

Our History

While the Claddagh Association Inc. officially formed in 1997, its story begins more than a decade earlier.

In the early 80s, Tom Quinn, Peter McKenna, Tony Kelly and friends began fundraising for players injured in the fledgling Gaelic Football competition. Later, with a large influx of Irish people to Perth in the late ‘80s, they turned to raising travel funds for people to make emergency trips back to Ireland. 

“We’d meet them at the airport, and hand them a ticket,” Tom said.

From there, the group decided to start a travel fund, rather than relying on ad hoc fundraising efforts every time someone needed to go home urgently.  

In 1992, a friend who ran the Alcoholics Anonymous in Karratha brought Tom into contact with a young man, who was struggling with addiction. 

“We lived near the sobering up shelter at Applecross and my friend said, ‘Look out for a bloke on crutches, he might need help’, and there he was, hobbling out of the bus stop. So we brought him to the shelter and then he stayed with us for a while, then moved to Kalgoorlie.”

Sadly, the young man passed away. This was the group’s first experience of repatriating bodies to Ireland. 

“We didn’t have money for sending bodies home, so we sent his ashes to Dublin, and his family buried them in a casket,” Tom said.

In 1997, The Claddagh Association Inc. was officially established, formalising its activities and establishing a volunteer committee, with Peter McKenna the inaugural Chairman. Peter and Tom both still serve on the committee today.

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Since then, Claddagh has continued to provide crisis support to people in Western Australia’s Irish community in times of hardship and trauma, acting as a safety net for people when they have exhausted all other options

All Claddagh’s activities are managed by a volunteer committee. The office is staffed by a full-time coordinator and projects are supported by a team of dedicated volunteers.

Claddagh is a voluntary, non-profit organisation with deductible gift recipient status (DGR). Claddagh’s activities are funded by the generosity of individuals, businesses and the Irish Government.  

The Claddagh Association gratefully acknowledges the funding received from the Irish Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Emigrant Support Programme. This program funds projects that have a clear and identifiable impact on supporting and building global Irish communities. Emigrant Support Program funding covers much of Claddagh’s operational spending. It cannot be spent on crisis support or financial assistance for the individuals and families we support except in limited, specific circumstances. 

Claddagh raises the money for our crisis support work through fundraising activities, donations, sponsorship and membership fees. In addition, many individuals and families who have been supported by Claddagh give generously once their time of need is over so that the support they received can be passed on to those who need it next. Claddagh gratefully acknowledge the generosity and commitment of all those who contribute to our work.