• One of the Co Founders of the IHSM

  • Interview of Marty Hardiman

    Interviewer: Good evening, Marty. How and why did you become involved in this wonderful venture?

    Marty: Back before we really got this started, I was always along the streets here, hawking for Devon Day, promoting all the local businesses. And one time I was out there with a tent, and I said I might as well promote the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which I had been a long, long time chairman. And while I was out there, this guy comes and approached me and we talked maybe an hour or so. His name was Chris McEnearney. And his words were, he said, “Did you ever think maybe we could start an Irish Club?” And I said, “I always had that in the back of my mind.” And we went from there.

    Interviewer: What was the first step?

    Marty: The first step was to sit down and find us an attorney to talk to.

    Interviewer: And why exactly would you need an attorney?

    Marty: Just to see if we’re going to go in the right direction. We didn’t want to step on any other Irish clubs’ toes.

    Interviewer: And the next step?

    Marty: He went out researching other Irish clubs from the West Coast over. And I did the Midwest to the East Coast. And on my side I ran into another member, Bill McNamara, who was president of the West Haven Irish American Club. And I just picked his brain. I was a member of the West Haven Irish American Club. And I just sat and picked his brain and he loved it. We spent days on end. And so we put all our information back together, sat down with our attorney, and started writing the rules.

    Interviewer: So that in itself must be quite a big undertaking, to come up with the rules. And apparently being revised all the time.

    Marty: Well, that’s good. And then Chris wanted to hold a meeting to see if we could find anybody else that might be interested in joining an Irish Club in Milford.

    Interviewer: So rules (bylaws) that are still very much in place. What would you say was the biggest challenge?

    Marty: It really wasn’t the bylaws because we were picking through that. I think the biggest challenge was where we were going to meet.

    Interviewer: And where did you initially start meeting?

    Marty: What was the name of that…on Orange Avenue? (West River Rehabilitation Center)

    Interviewer: And from there on?

    Marty: We bounced from a couple of different bars. I’ll say why we were bouncing from a couple different bars. The club that Chris was looking at on the West Coast was a traveling club. They never had a club and they’ve been in existence for – I believe Chris said like 50 or 60 years. And they did nothing but travel.

    Interviewer: Wow that’s interesting. So that was toyed with as a possibility? Kind of used as a model?

    Marty: Yes. At the same time Chris and I were still looking at different buildings to see if it could house what we had.

    Interviewer: What has been your personal experience and involvement in it – the whole organization?

    Marty: Well, from the start being the co-founder. We were like co-presidents for a couple of years, Chris and I, before we had our first set of elections. Chris was elected president and I was elected vice-president then.

    Interviewer: And how many people were involved in that election process?

    Marty: At that time? Maybe 100.

    Interviewer: What else did you do to stay involved?

    Marty: We just kept our fingers in there, involved, especially with the board. We were president and vice-president, and then I became president. Then Ed Mead was president. I became past-president. And we were always involved with the board. So you kept your fingers in the game.

    Interviewer: Do you have a title now other than past-president?

    Marty: Well, now it’s just co-founder along with past-president.

    Interviewer: The whole catalyst behind our project to write the history of the club was that this is the 10th anniversary year. Talk about our growth over these first ten years.

    Marty: It was growing slowly, especially when we were hanging down at Costa Azzurra. We were just seeing the same people show all the time for monthly meetings. We were always discussing looking for a permanent place of our own over the years. And then once we got this place, after going from building to building, finally having people come out to take a look at this before we even thought about buying it. Once we said we had a building, it just exploded. The membership exploded. And it’s still going.

    Interviewer: So what was your involvement in the purchasing of this? Were you directly involved in that?

    Marty: I was involved with – there was, I forget how many members – but we all came to take a look at it. It was always a discussion. The idea was we weren’t to make the decision, but it was a Club decision – all the membership – to go after this.

    Interviewer: But you guys brought it back to the full membership?

    Marty: Right. My own feeling and my own thoughts are “Never do anything unless the full membership knows.”

    Interviewer: That’s a very key thing. Once you lose that transparency then there’s always room for uncertainty and questioning. This question is a little redundant, but what are your earliest memories of the Club?

    Marty: I guess just the craziness of having something like this and still reaching out to other Irish clubs for more information.

    Interviewer: Yes. And I think to a great extent that is still going on; the networking with other people.

    Marty: We still do. I really believe that’s the best thing to happen. Like I have West Haven, who wants to sit down with me, and go over everything we have done, because they would like to see themselves in their own clubhouse.

    Interviewer: They don’t have their own club house?

    Marty: Oh no. They’re another group.

    Interviewer: Kind of nomadic?

    Marty: Yes. But what happens with them is, their membership and the monies that they raise go to New Haven. They’re part of New Haven’s club. And I have discussed with them to come this way. It’s still in discussion. And the other part of the madness was starting the Irish Festival.

    Interviewer: That must have been an incredible undertaking.

    Marty: Well, we were just 5 months into being a club, and Chris and I sat down and said maybe we should do an Irish Festival. And then we threw that out at the membership, and they thought we were both crazy. And that was a very, very successful event for the first time. And it was all done under the gazebo not the field. We had food vendors, some jewelry vendors, a band, and tables all under the gazebo.

    Interviewer: So it was just a scaled down version of it?

    Marty: A scaled down version.

    Interviewer: Nothing like what it is now.

    Marty: Nope. And then we had a beer tent. Where we had the beer before was, here’s the gazebo, and here’s the wall to that house. Right there.

    Interviewer: Wow. It’s amazing – the growth.