Committee of Management

Celtic Club AGM - 20th November - 2pm

Lunch served from 12-2pm

Important message: La Trobe Street between Queen and Elizebeth Street will be closed on the weekend - You may have to arrange different transportation to reach club on time for the AGM.


Celtic Club Annual Report 2015-2016

Download Available - Click here


Minutes of Special General Meeting

21st September 2016

Download Available - Click here


Minutes of Special General Meeting

7th July 2016

Download Available - Click here



Celtic Club Sale News


Dear Members,

The Special General Meeting on the proposed sale was held last evening. After a long night with 344 votes cast, you as members have decided to support the sale of our current Club premises to Beulah International.

There were 274 votes for the sale; 68 votes against, and 2 informal.

After a long and sometimes emotional journey to get to this stage, I would like to thank all members for their patience and support in reaching this resolution. In particular, I would like to pay tribute to the work of past Presidents and the Members of the previous Committees of Management.  I will also take this opportunity to specially acknowledge the contribution of Francie Collins who worked tirelessly on behalf of our Club in the early stages of our sale/redevelopment project.

It is now time to focus on the opportunities we have to rebuild our Club.  It will be a Club, which can support and promote our Irish and Irish Australian culture and traditions in Melbourne and Victoria.  

Your feedback, ideas and avid support are needed and welcome as we move to the next stage of the project.

The Committee of Management looks forward to working with you.  We are energised by the trust you have shown in our capacity to achieve great things for the Celtic Club and its members.



Brian Shanahan O.A.M


Celtic Club


Celtic Club Q&A

1.    What does the current offer from Beulah International include? 
A new offer has been received from Beulah International, the original bidder, which addresses the following requirements of the Club and its members;
•    The offer is for $25.6m - less the 4% stamp duty incurred due to new tax charges in place since the last offer
•    This offer comes with an option for the Club to buy back 2,000 square metres of the Queens Street premises which guarantees the ground and first floors to establish a new contemporary Club. Other space can be purchased to make up the remainder of the 2,000 square metres. The costs of the buy-back will be at market value, based on a range of reputable data sources and agent’s advice to ensure the integrity of this figure. This is based on the existing permit with air rights.  
•    Beulah International has confirmed that the Club would have the opportunity to provide input into design and dimensions to ensure the venue caters to the needs of the Club.
•    For three years or more, the Club would relocate to new premises in the CBD to continue operating and offer continuity for Club activities before returning to the old site when the development is completed. The current offer allows the Club a generous timeframe of six-nine months in which to seek a new location. This enables the Club to make arrangements for the security of staff and operating revenue to be transitioned, with no loss of employment or revenue expected. 
•    In addition, a lease offer for alternative premises has been confirmed as a viable option should the sale proceed. This is in the CBD, includes a liquor license and meets the requirements of the Club. The Property Sub-Committee has also identified additional options in the CBD to consider and are in the process of formalising these lease offers for comparison and negotiation. 
•    “If the sale of the Celtic Club does not proceed with Beulah International, an amount of $100,000 is payable to Beulah to cover the costs associated with architecture and engineering drawings, and re-design of the building to accommodate the redevelopment of the Celtic Club. If this occurs, the Celtic Club will retain all documents and plans which could be used for future consideration.

If the sale is approved by Members, Beulah International will cover these costs and no payment will be required.

However, Beulah International is happy to absorb all architecture and consultants’ costs in the redesign in the event the sale is successful”

2.    What are the terms of the proposal to sell the Queen Street premises?
Beulah International has approached the Celtic Club with an offer of $25.6m (less 4% tax levy $1.024m) to redevelop the property into a 48 storey building. Advice from Melbourne City Council and the Minister for Planning’s Office is that the current redevelopment permit will not be extended. If sale does not proceed, we have received advice that the value of the premises without the air rights permit is approximately $12-16m.

Beulah International has offered a 10% deposit, then another 10% after 6-months with options to vacate in 6-9 months, upon which the balance of funds will be received. 

3.    What will the Club look like if development goes through?
While no drawings exist at this stage, the Club will consult with the buyers to contribute to design and dimensions, in particular the Club has expressed interest in features that include and are not limited to; high ceilings, flexible theatre space, conference rooms, bar, restaurant, members reading room/library, family-friendly spaces, library, meeting spaces for cultural and sporting groups and office areas for staff.

4.    Why is the sale being proposed and recommended by the committee?
The Club is currently operating under extreme debt and the current premises require substantial immediate building works and ongoing maintenance, which is considered financially unviable.

Our priority is to avoid the demise of the Queensland Irish Association and ensure that the Celtic Club retains a strong and viable presence in the Melbourne CBD. The most favourable and recommended option is to accept a sale offer. 

The Club has carried a debt in excess of $2m for over 20 years. Despite recent modest improvements in operating performance, the Club has still incurred losses over the last five years, including a $87k loss for 2015-16. The July figures for the new financial year are project increased operating losses, expected to be worse than 2015-16. The burden of servicing existing or added loans will place the Club at considerable risk. 

One of our main priorities remains the safety and quality of the environment for our employees and our members. A recent report commissioned by an external company has shown the prohibitive nature of the building renovations required to meet industry standards, in particular Occupational Health and Safety standards. As a result, many areas of risk have been profiled in the report which will require immediate attention. If we stay in our current building the Club will need to spend extensive funds on repairing and replacing ageing and dangerous infrastructure e.g. plumbing, toilets and lifts. The costs of repairs and refurbishment of the existing building are estimated to be over $6m.

Accepting the sale offer will secure the future of the Irish and all the Celtic communities of Victoria and ensure the ongoing cultural and social activities and promotion of their heritage. 

5.    Why did the vote in July to sell fail to go through?
Although the vast majority of members understood the risk the Club was facing and chose to vote to sell, 28% voted against the sale. New Club rules proposed in the Incorporated Associations Reform Act 2012 and passed in late 2015, stated that a vote of 75% of members was required, compared to old rules which required two thirds. A large number of members did not vote in the ballot and may have not been aware of the proceedings.

6.    How long will the development take?
Approximately three years, during which the Club will be utilizing interest grown from the lump sum sale to fund the lease on a temporary venue. 

7.    When will the Club need to move out?  
The Club has sufficient time to make preparations for the move, which is proposed sometime between February and March 2017. 

8.    Where will the temporary Club be set up? 
To ensure the Club can continue to operate and limit disruptions for members and employees, the Club has secured a formal lease option for alternate premises in the CBD for three years. This venue has a liquor licence. As negotiations continue, the Club is also looking at other options in the Melbourne CBD. 

This means the Club can re-locate for three years and return to the existing site when the development is complete. The main advantage for all members is that the Club can address its financial challenges, return to a high quality, modern building and secure its ongoing future.  

9.    What does the Celtic Club intend to do with the funds if successful?
After all existing loans, debts, outgoings and costs have been paid, the Club will have a lump sum from the sale price to purchase and refurbish the new premises. 

The interest gathered from the lump sum will be used to cover lease and rental costs on the temporary premises. Furthermore, the Club would look to leverage the interest of the remaining sum of money to support relevant scholarships and grants to support the local community. 

10.    What will happen to the Club if the sale does not proceed? 
If the Club does not achieve a 75% approval at the September meeting to proceed with the sale, the Club will continue to carry its burden of debt and inability to refurbish the Club premises or grow profits. If this offer is passed, the value of the permit and property will fall from $25.6m to between $12-16m. This would be a result of the expiration of the current planning permit with air rights which allows for 48 floors in the refurbished building. Any developer would need to commence work by October 2016 to be able to meet the expiry timeline of October 2017. 

Unfortunately, as a result of carrying debts for the past 20 years, and losses over five years, the Club is at considerable financial risk and not sustainable. The Audit Sub-Committee has expressed concern about the current financial capacity of the Club to meet its existing obligations. 

The majority of the Club remains concerned that if the sale is not supported, financial pressures will force the Club into liquidation, like that of its peers, the Queensland Irish Association, the Sydney Irish Club, the Bendigo Club, and the Army and Navy Melbourne Club. 

11.    What other options have been explored? 
The Club has assessed the cost of repairs and refurbishments of the existing building, which are estimated to be $6m+ with an added $0.5m for operating losses as a result of works being done. Buildings like the Celtic Club on Queen Street have costly repairs and require ongoing maintenance as a result of ageing infrastructure. As a result, even with investment into refurbishment, this is likely to be an ongoing issue for the Club. 

12.    Have you engaged independent experts to review your options?
The Club has obtained independent legal advice for the sale offer and separate legal advice to address governance issues. CBRE has also been engaged as commercial real estate agents through EOI and public tender process. The Club has obtained a building report to identify risks, both structural and OH&S. 

13.    How can I find out further information or discuss the current offer and proceedings?
We will be holding an information session to discuss further and answer your questions. On Thursday 8th September at 7.30pm. In addition, we have set up a dedicated phone message service on Ph. 9642 0888 or please email us on

Further information will also be provided to members from the President over the next 2-3 weeks, if necessary.





The Celtic Club is currently managed by a Committee of Management elected by the Members.

  • Brian Shanahan          President
  • Marguerite Darmody    Vice-President
  • Daniel Thorpe             Treasurer
  • Felicity Allen               Secretary
  • Ciaran Crehan
  • Conrad Corry
  • Helene McNamara
  • James Dunne


The Committee


Brian Shanahan - President


Helene McNamara - Vice-President

I believe I can be an asset to Committee of the Celtic Club based on both my personal commitment to the Club and its members, and also the skillset I can bring to this role.

My parents were both of Irish heritage. My studies at Melbourne University developed a life long interest in Irish culture and history. Professionally, my work over 35 years includes managing complex projects and budgets and delivering quality services. My skills in high level negotiation, working collaboratively to achieve the necessary compliance and performance standards will benefit the Club and provide accountability to the members.

My ten years experience as a Board member at Doutta Galla Community Health Service trained me in all aspects of governance, finance, accreditation and regulations. I am currently the Chair of the Moonee Valley Legal Service.

My husband, Jim Cusack, and I are both well acquainted with the local Irish community and have been members for many years. Jim was Secretary of the Celtic Club and was awarded the Irish Australian of the Year in 2014.



Daniel Thorpe - Treasurer



Felicity Allen - Current Secretary

I have been Secretary since November 2014 and am responsible for the oversight of membership matters, meeting minutes and correspondence. I have increased the level of information provided to members and corresponded with other Clubs. Membership drives have increased the number of financial members (just over 1,000 at the time of writing).  Improved management and better publicity have turned the Club’s fortunes around from loss to profit. Members may decide to sell, but there is no longer any pressing need to sell this iconic site close to public transport. The buildings need renovation but this can be done now that we have an income stream. Thus I disagree with both the ‘sell’ and ‘renovate’ options. Nevertheless, I will be bound by members’ decisions.
In 2014, I chaired the Rules subcommittee, which completely overhauled the Rules. They have now been implemented, bringing management and oversight of the Club into the 21st century.


John (Sean) McKeon - Committee Member

I grew up in County Roscommon, later attending University and working in Dublin before moving to Melbourne in 1990.

I immediately became involved with the Irish Community between playing football at Gaelic Park, trying to learn Irish Dancing and of course joining the Celtic Club, where I have been a member for some 25 years. 

Together with holding business degrees I am a qualified Accountant and worked for many years in banking both in Ireland and Australia. Some 20 years ago I entered the Aged Care industry and since then have owner and managed Hostels and Nursing Homes throughout Victoria and Queensland. 

It is such an honour to be entrusted with the care of the elderly and I found it a pleasure to be able to assist our Residents and play a role in improving their quality of life.

I retired 2 years ago and since then have focused on my local community and personal interests. Being a Demons supported has been tough, but the future is bright!

I joined the Committee of Management of The Club earlier this year following a vacancy and subsequent request to Members. I was delighted to accept the opportunity at such an important stage of the Club’s history. 

I believe the Celtic Club has a tradition and responsibility to support Irish Heritage & Culture in Melbourne. This is not only facilitated through Irish music, art and literature but as importantly through the social interaction we achieve within the Club.

I hope we can expand and develop this important role going forward and build on our current strengths to ideally become the premier Irish Club in Australia.


Ciaran Crehan - Committee Member

I am committed to improved transparency and accountability to the membership.  I believe there is significant scope to enhance business management processes across the Club’s operations. The Celtic Club has the potential to again be a thriving commercial operation, a welcoming community meeting point, and as a recognised centre for Celtic culture. As a committee member I will work to work to meet these goals. 


Conrad John Corry - Committee Member & Chair of the Membership, Benefits and Privileges Sub-Committee


James Dunne - Committee Member

Very involved with the Irish diaspora sine leaving Ireland. These groups have provided me with an invaluable anchor in Australia and UK

Strong believer that The Celtic Club plays a very significant role for both the Irish in Australia and Irish tourists

Very supportive of current executive. Support drive for younger members

I am Dublin born and educated. Moved to London when 21 In London was involved with the Irish community, through the London Irish Rugby Club.

Worked for some of the top international brands including Estee lauder. Estee Lauder sent me to Australia as a General Manager. In Sydney, involved in Irish community and became president of the Irish Australian Business Association. Changed name to Irish Australian Society, to reflect the group’s activities.

Major activities were the St Patrick’s Day Ball, Christmas in July and other social activities. In 1988, The Society played a major part in promoting the role of the Irish in early Australia.

Moved to Melbourne as GM L’Oréal. 1992 joined Partum Christian Dior as MD Australia, South Pacific and SA.

Lived in Malaysia before returning to Melbourne to join Ego Pharmaceuticals. I currently work as a consultant in therapeutic skincare