Providing an alternative to "the drink culture"
for young people across Ireland

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No Name Club is a Silver Health Quality Mark Organisation
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Congrats to the 2017 National Youth Award Winners

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History

In the beginning

They were neighbours and friends when they were growing up. Hurling was a great passion in their lives. They lived in a rural area which bordered two counties – the two great hurling counties of Wexford and Kilkenny. In the Leinster Minor Hurling Final of 1960 they faced each other on opposing sides – one playing for Wexford and one playing for Kilkenny. They were rivals that day, but they were friends too. Shortly afterwards, one of them joined the Gardai and the other became a Priest. Where would they be sent – the Priest and the Garda? As it turned out, the Priest was appointed Curate in the same parish in which the Garda was stationed and their friendship continued. They had a mutual friend – one of the greatest of the great Kilkenny hurlers. These three went everywhere together. They socialised together. They enjoyed life immensely. Drink was not a factor in their lives. None of them felt a need for alcohol at a time when drink was a prominent feature in the lives of so many. There was no aspect of their lives that they could not enjoy without the stimulus of alcohol. They were each committed to their professions: the Priest, the Garda and the young Bank Official. Their interest in sport continued.

The Grandest Time of their Lives

They became very conscious that teenagers were becoming more and more exposed to the alcohol culture – a disturbing atmosphere in which drink was being equated with celebration and defeat. If you won you celebrated with drink. If you lost you drowned your sorrow with drink. The three friends had many discussions about this. They looked back at their own personal teenage years. They remembered them as the grandest time of their lives. They remembered the excitement of new discoveries, the joy of fitness and health, the marvel of awakening to the wonders of the world around them. They felt that this was being taken away from all those teenagers who were getting caught up in the world of drink. They believed that this was a great pity. They each looked at it from their own perspectives. The Garda saw the effects of alcohol as he went about his daily work. The Priest was conscious of the effect of drink on families in his parish and the Bank Official saw its effect on those who wanted to become involved in sport. They were concerned. They discussed the situation again and again. They talked about the pity about the pub culture. They talked about the great pity it was for teenagers and they wondered what they could do about it. They wondered how an alternative to the pub could be provided.

Fr. Tom’s Sermon

On Temperance Sunday, the Priest, Father Tom Murphy, preached a sermon. Hotelier Bobby Kerr heard it and was moved by it. Bobby offered Fr. Tom the use of the Function Room in his Newpark Hotel. Fr. Tom told his two friends – the Garda, Eamonn Doyle, and the Bank Official, Eddie Keher. Now they had a place; how were they to use it? How could they counter the pub culture? What was happening in the pubs? What did they have to counteract? They looked at what was going on in the pubs – the comfortable surroundings, the music, the bands, the sessions, the singing. They decided to provided an alternative. But what???? There followed some animated discussion interspersed with reflective slences until, eventually, the germ of an idea began to take shape in their minds: A club!!! This would be a club in which young people and adults could come together and enjoy themselves in an alcohol-free and comfortable environment. There were a few things which they saw as absolutely essential: young people had to be involved in a significant way; there had to be an attractive commerically viable weekly event; food and a wide range of non-alcoholic drinks had to be available; high standards would be essential; food would be good but not expensive; punctual and reasonable starting and finishing times would be adhered to (e.g. 8p.m. to 12 midnight). Quite a few norms would be challanged.

A Special Kind of Club

They decided to recruit lively, young people with good personalities and happy dispositions to set the new club in motion. It was agreed that each night would consist of cabaret entertainment, informal dancing (as they called it) and end with a disco. There would be food, a wide range of non-alcoholic drinks and cocktails, and the young people would act as Hosts and Hostesses. It progressed from there for two or three years. The provision of cabaret was an early idea so they tried a competition format based loosely on the Tops of the Town idea and this became very successful. Immense crowds turned up each night and many had to be turned away because there was no room. Companies began to pour more and more money into the preparation of the cabaret acts. The club became, in a sense, a victim of its own success in that, eventually, only those groups who spent a lot of money on their acts could hope to win. The Tops of the Town idea had to be abandoned. The novelty of the club and its drawing power began to fade. Young people became bored at the informal dancing and adults found it difficult to tolerate the disco. The focus changed entirely to young people and the organisation as it is today began to evolve. Publicity on an R.T.E. programme and other media publicity stimulated interest from other parts of the country. Interested people began to visit Kilkenny to see how it worked and the Kilkenny Club visited other areas to help to get clubs started. They decided to recruit lively, young people with good personalities

What about the name?

Finding a name for the club in Kilkenny was a bit of a headache. It seemed no matter what name was suggested, it labelled the Club in some way. The founders did not want to appear to be anti-drink or anti-anything else and they certainly did not want the eventual name to convey any impression of being anti-anything. When the minutes of the club were being written the name of the club was omitted. The minutes would contain a formula like, A meeting of . . . . club was held on . . . .  etc. When these minutes were being read out the secretary would read them as ‘A meeting of the ..(no name).. club was held on the . . . .’. Eventually all agreed to actually call the club the No Name Club and thus it has remained. The No Name Club was formed in Kilkenny in 1978. It sought to provide an alternative to the pub culture and to give young people an opportunity to enjoy themselves in a social setting without the dutch courage which some people believe is given by alcohol. The format of an evening centred around cabaret, dancing and a disco in comfortable surroundings with a wide range of non-alcoholic cocktails and drinks. Food was provided as an optional extra. Central to the idea was the significant involvement of young people in planning and running the events of the night in co-operation with the adult committee – all of them working on a voluntary basis.