Birmingham’s Irish Centre to close down after 50 years in Digbeth
Birmingham’s beloved Irish Centre, a key part of the city’s cultural heritage, is to close after 50 long years in Digbeth.
The owners of The Irish Centre have announced its closure is set for January, marking the end of the venue’s life in the city’s Irish quarter, as it moves to new premises in Kings Heath to be housed within a new “Irish Village”.
Owners Paul and Christine Owens released the following statement on Facebook today:
“After all the rumours over the past months I would like to announce that on 6 January 2020 the Irish Centre Birmingham will be moving from Digbeth High Street to a new site, The former Stadium Club , Wheelers Lane, Kings Heath .
“The new venue is a 12 acre site where we intend to build a New Irish Centre Birmingham with hotel, bar and conference facilities. The site is well situated in a good position with excellent bus & road links and has existing sports facilities which we intend to improve and develop to encourage all Gaelic games and more traditional sports like Rugby, soccer, hockey, etc.
“Over the past months we have been in discussions with other prominent West Midlands based Irish organisations who work within the community in the hope that they will join us in Kings Heath to build a new Irish Centre that can offer a diverse range of facilities not just of a social nature but also including health, sport, leisure, education, retail and other services required by the greater Birmingham Irish community . Now that the site purchase is complete we can formalise our plans with a view to making further announcements with regards to who will be joining us at the new venue.
“West Midlands travel will be retaining a presence on-site which is great news especially as so many Irish people historically worked “on the buses” and have such positive memories of those past years. I would like to thank Tony & Phil and all the team from West Midlands travel for their patience in helping make the deal happen.”
Digbeth has been a hub for the Irish community in Birmingham and is the site of a huge annual St Patrick’s Day Parade, which organisers confirmed would continue in the area. As a vibrant bar and music venue, The Irish Centre has always been key to annual celebrations.
The statement continues: “Obviously there is a sense of sadness and nostalgia leaving Digbeth after 50 years and we’ve all got our own special memories of good times at “The Centre” but the area is changing rapidly and despite out best efforts we could not agree a suitable planning permission to regenerate the present site with the city council. I’m afraid it’s time to move on.
“That being said I believe this is a tremendous opportunity to develop a new Irish Centre offering a complete set of services and facilities so that we can attract people of all generations to utilise the premises which we hope will regenerate the new Irish Centre and create a vibrant , sustainable , lasting Business model .
“The success of the new Irish Centre will be reliant on the support of the Birmingham Irish Community and I do hope that you will get behind this venture so that the Irish Centre can have a long , successful future continuing to serve our customers who visit from the local area , different parts of Ireland and from all over the world .
“I would like to thank Patrick Jordan and his staff at The Irish Centre who have continued to work hard under very difficult circumstances . I would also like to thank the local Digbeth community who have given us great support over the last 12 years in The Irish Centre and for many years before we took over , especially John Fitzgerald from Minstrel Music , Pat O’neill , Paddy Joyce and most importantly my dear friend Queenie. Also I must thank Mom & Dad and all my family in particular my sister Caroline who loved the place and the people , she had a kind word and a bit of craic for everyone. She has proved irreplaceable since she moved on .
“Finally I have to thank my wife Christine for all her strength & support over the past difficult months – There were easier options, but I hope we have found a way forward to build a new Birmingham Irish Centre we can all be proud of for many years to come.
Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a Healthy and prosperous 2020.”