IT USED to be an Irish bar, but not any more. However, there’s still plenty of the blarney to be found there.
It’s a room at the Woodburn-Evans Head RSL Club, and these days it’s The Mess, a meeting venue for the local RSL sub-branch members.
And adding more than a dash of colour are flags representing nations which have been allies of Australian defence forces.
“The room was an Irish bar which never really worked,” sub-branch member Rod Hatcher said.
“The sub-branch didn’t have anywhere (permanent) to meet – we were meeting in either the restaurant or the auditorium.
“We came to an agreement with the club board that we would take over the room, put up memorabilia, and use it for meetings. The board agreed, and the sub-branch and the women’s auxiliary spent money and many voluntary hours putting in carpet and painting walls.
“We also put up some photos and pictures representative of the defence forces over the years.” One problem with the room was that it was all concrete, and its acoustics were a problem.
“We needed something to deaden echoes and considered drapes, but they were not practical and too costly, so we decided to hang flags from the ceiling,” Rod said.
“They represent allied nations in various conflicts over the years. It adds a bit of colour and interest.”
Rod said sub-branch members “meet and tell lies” every Wednesday from 9am to 11am.
“Then on Friday afternoon we gather there at 5pm, have a Guinness, and tell more and greater lies and a few jokes,” he said. “We get up to 50 men and women at our meetings, which is a good roll-up.
“We now incorporate affiliate members who are not ex-service people but relatives, such as sons, daughters, brothers and sisters – everyone is welcome.”
Despite the light-hearted nature of Rod’s telling of the story, such as “telling more and greater lies”, there is a serious side to what the sub-branch has achieved with the room.
“It’s good welfare – good therapy,” Rod said.