A History of the Irish Benevolent Society of London & Middlesex
On March 12th, 1877 in London, Ontario, Canada, a small group of Irish born and others of Irish descent from different religions and politics organized The Irish Benevolent Society. Its purpose was, and remains, to provide opportunities for members and their friends to engage in benevolent activities and to preserve their Irish heritage. Item 17 of the Societys Constitution and By-laws is a good example of one of the unique features of this organization:
At the election of officers it has been a rule of the Irish Benevolent Society and shall so continue that Presidents shall be alternately Protestant and Catholic.
The President holds office for one year. The Executive Officers are equally representative of the Roman Catholic and Protestant religions. The ability of this group to work in harmony to the benefit of their community continues to provide a fine example of mutual respect.
The Societys history became the subject of a book entitled The Luck of
the Irish in Canada: A History of the Irish Benevolent Society of London
and Middlesex by Gordon J. Sanderson. On March 9th, 2000, a book launch
was held in Council Chambers of the Middlesex County Building. The book's
introduction (page xxvii) speaks to the breakdown of traditional
...for the Irish sustained by their deeply held faith and
characteristic optimism, the freedom and unity of purpose in building new
communities eventually caused Old Country antagonisms to heal and
religious divisions to dissipate.
Many organizations and individuals have benefited from the Societys
benevolence during its long history. Recent awards include an annual
bursary to the most proficient student at St. Mary Choir School, a bursary to three graduates of Huron University College, London (Anglican), and
similar awards to graduates of St. Peters Seminary, London (Catholic).
Also awards are presented at the Forest City Feis which is an
international Irish dance competition held annually in London.
Celebrating March 17th continues to be the highlight of the Societys
annual activities. In 2002, Past President George Mottram suggested an
award for members or friends whose special efforts had benefited the Irish
Benevolent Society and community. It was intended to be a light hearted
but sincere recognition of the recipients accomplishments. Thus the
Leprechaun Award was created. Since that time, a special luncheon is held
every two years or so to honour new Leprechauns.
More information and details about The Irish Benevolent Society of London
and Area can be found elsewhere on this website. Meanwhile, we trust that
Irish luck and good humour will sustain this Society for many more years.
May you live to be a hundred years with one extra year to repent!
George T. Brunton,