‘End of an era’ as Dungannon INF disbands after 128 years

The Dungannon Branch of the Irish National Foresters celebrating their 125th year with a reception at Ranfurly Arts Centre on the Hill of the O'Neill in March 2014. 
From left, Gerard Devlin (High Chief Ranger of Ireland) Sean McGuigan (former mayor of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council) Fr Ryan McAleer CC Dungannon ((Honorary member) Eddie McNally (Chief Ranger Dungannon) and Brian Boyle (Branch Secretary) INTT1014-600OC
The Dungannon Branch of the Irish National Foresters celebrating their 125th year with a reception at Ranfurly Arts Centre on the Hill of the O'Neill in March 2014. From left, Gerard Devlin (High Chief Ranger of Ireland) Sean McGuigan (former mayor of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council) Fr Ryan McAleer CC Dungannon ((Honorary member) Eddie McNally (Chief Ranger Dungannon) and Brian Boyle (Branch Secretary) INTT1014-600OC

The Dungannon branch of the Irish National Foresters, which has been in existence in the town for well over a century, has been officially wound down at a special meeting.

The organisation, which was set up as a friendly society and hosted many charitable events in the area, was established on March 31, 1889, in the Station House Hotel, and its closure has been described as the “end of an era”.

Building owner by the Irish National Foresters Club, Dungannon INF. INTT0410-185JS

Building owner by the Irish National Foresters Club, Dungannon INF. INTT0410-185JS

Members of the local branch came together at a meeting last Monday to formally dissolve the organisation, after the premises at Lower Scotch Street were recently sold.

The social club hosted numerous music events and fundraising gatherings over the years.

However, due to the financial downturn in 2010, the venue was closed, although the branch continued to take part in St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the town.

In 2014, the Dungannon branch celebrated its 125th anniversary with a special, week-long exhibition at Ranfurly House Arts and Visitors Centre, which concluded with a reception for INF members and local dignitaries.

Members of Dungannon Branch of the Irish National Foresters parade along Irish Street Dungannon as part of their annual St Patrick's Day celebrations in 2014. INTT1314-602OC

Members of Dungannon Branch of the Irish National Foresters parade along Irish Street Dungannon as part of their annual St Patrick's Day celebrations in 2014. INTT1314-602OC

Dungannon INF spokesman, Eddie McNally, explained: “This is the first time in 128 years that there will no longer be a branch of the INF in Dungannon.

“The club closed after the arrival of Sunday opening hours in pubs and the Foresters as a benefit society was no longer as much in demand with the NHS. Everything has changed now, so the decision was taken to wind up the branch at a full, special meeting on Monday night, 20th February.

“Some money will be donated to a number of charities which have been nominated. We would just like to thank all the people who supported the INF over the years, as well as the club members and honorary members, who were always a great help.”

Dungannon SDLP councillor, Denise Mullen, described the closure of the INF branch in the town as “the end of an era”.

“The INF club was always a hive of activity, with numerous social and charity events being held there over its lifetime.

“Indeed, the participation of the INF in the annual St Patrick’s Day parade meant the town enjoyed a real buzz at that time of the year.

“Dungannon now badly needs a community hall or function facility, which, in its heyday, the INF club was able to provide.

“I remember being at many events and celebrations there over the years and I am very saddened to see that the branch has now been wound up.”