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Anonymous history in your area
A brief history of the start of AA in
brief history of the start of AA in Irelandthe first
European country to receive Bill and Bob's message.
to the 1940s the only treatment for Alcoholism in Ireland
was to keep the bottle away from the alcoholic. The idea
was to lock him/her away in an asylum/hospital for a few
weeks/months, depending on how bad they were, hoping they
would come to their senses when released and cease drinking
for good and all.
idea that alcoholism was a disease was never considered.
That is until the message of Alcoholics Anonymous was brought
to Ireland in 1946the first European country to hold
a meeting of this new fledgling society.
AA message spread from America to Sydney, Australia, in
1943. In that same year an Irishman Conor F., from Roscommon
in the west of Ireland, joined AA in Philadelphiaboth
of these events were to play a significant part in the formation
of the first AA group in Dublin three years later.
Australian influence came through an Irish priest Fr. Tom
Dunlea, who was based in Sydney running a Boy's Town Home
and he came across an AA group and was quite impressed with
their work and achievements.
holiday back in Ireland in 1946, he gave an interview to
a Dublin newspaper, the Evening Mail, mainly concentrating
on his work with the Boy's Town Home. However, during the
interview he spoke at length about the "Society of
some of the details in the article being somewhat inaccurate
regarding the principles of the fellowship (probably due
to the reporter's interpretation), all the same it was the
first time that AA was brought to public attention.
the same time, November 1946, the aforementioned Conor F.
was also on holidays in his homelandnow three years
soberhe was determined to set up an AA group in Dublin
before his return to America in January 1947. With the help
and encouragement of his wife he devoted the rest of his
holiday to this task.
the outset he discovered that his assignment would be a
difficult one. He ran into stone walls everywhere. He was
even told at one stage that their were no alcoholics in
southern Irelandbut he would probably get them in
was pointed out to him in no uncertain terms that if people
had problems with the "demon drink" all they had
to do was join The Pioneer AssociationIreland's highly
respected temperance society, and not waste time with some
new and unusual idea taught by Americans.
also gave an interview to the Evening Mail newspaper outlining
AA's endeavours to help people suffering from alcoholism
"to over come the obsession which compels them to drink
against their will." The article also included a Box
Number for people to write for information.
received a few repliesone from a man telling him that
he should contact his brother. He made contact with a few
people but nothing concrete came from any of them.
was just about to give up and with time running out fate
played its handas it did with Bill W in Akron eleven
years earlierwhen once again, and in more or less
similar circumstances, an understanding non-alcoholic woman
played a part in the birth of AAthis time in Ireland.
name was Eva Jennings and she was staying in the same hotel
as Conor and over breakfast he confided in her his many
problems in getting AA set up in Dublin.
was very sympathetic towards his plight and arranged for
him to meet a Dr. Norman Moore from St. Patrick's Hospital
in Dublin (founded by Dean Swift) whom she believed would
be of some help.
Moore was quite enthusiastic and listened to what Conor
had to say as he had already read about AA in a Readers
Digest article. He informed Conor that he had a patient
in the hospital "whom he feared he might be saddled
with for life" and was willing to introduce them both
stating: "If you can help this man, I'll believe in
AA 100 percent."
patient, Richard P. from County Down in Northern Ireland,
was sent under escort to Conor's hotel and immediately they
"clicked" and Richard was released from hospital.
men then set about arrange the first closed meeting in Dublin
which took place two weeks later on November 18th 1946.
Neither man was ever to drink again.
are currently 13,000 members in Ireland with over 75,000
Conor F. died in Philadelphia on July 8th, 1993.
Richard P. died December 19th, 1982
Eva Jennings became a great friend of AA until she died
in August 1997.
Bill W and his wife Lois paid their first visit to Dublin