Founded in the early 1940’s, the Clongowes Youth Club located in Coppinger Row catered for young people in the Digges Street / York Street area. Originally catering for just boys, the club did move with the times and allowed girls to join also! Many of the kids who attended the club in recent years had parents and grandparents who were among the original members.
The club was open on week nights during the school term and the kids – who ranged from about 7/8 to 14/15 – could come down and play pool, darts or computer games or even just hang out. The leaders of the club who ran the various nights were a mix of OC’s, usually in their first few years out of school, as well as friends and colleagues they encouraged to get involved and, often, people from the Digges Street area who had been in the Club when they were younger and wanted to give something back.
The school and the union were always very supportive of the Youth Club, organising the annual soccer match between the kids from the Club and the Transition Year soccer team as well as organising an annual holiday. Usually taking place in the first week of August, the highlight of the year, for both the kids and the leaders, was the annual trip to Clongowes. A group of about 25 kids from the Youth Club and as many willing volunteers that could be rounded up would head down to CWC for five days. The kids were terrified by the Castle having heard tales for years that it was haunted by Wogan Browne! The week was generally fun filled but exhausting trying to keep an eye on everyone.
Unfortunately, due to the small voluntary nature of the Youth Club, the increasing demands of child protection legislation and the need for professional staff, during the 2000’s the Youth Club was becoming progressively more untenable. Fate then intervened when the premises was damaged in a fire in 2009 and the Club never re-opened.
There is a future for the Youth Club however. With the proceeds from the insurance policy and the surrender of the lease to the landlord, the “Youth Club” now has the funds to support a new charitable venture which the Union is actively considering. It is hoped that when this occurs, OCs will give the new venture the same support that they gave to the Youth Club over the last 70 odd years.