About the ISAA

The Irish South African Association (ISAA) exists to facilitate social contact between Irish people, those of Irish descent and anyone who has an interest in the Irish and Ireland.

Everyone is welcome to join the Association (you don’t have to be Irish) and to attend our many functions.  Our main event of the year is held on St Patrick’s day, but we hold many other events including a golf day, quiz evenings, Irish food and wine pairings, films with an Irish interest, and many more.

There are currently three chapters of the association in South Africa: Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.

The Irish South African Association gratefully acknowledges the on-going support of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin and the Embassy of Ireland in Pretoria.

Our Chairpersons

Michael O’Brien

Chairperson Cape Town

From Nenagh, County Tipperary, Michael started visiting Cape Town in 2000 after his son married and relocated here. He moved to Cape Town permanently in 2015 joining the Irish South African Association shortly after.

He was elected Chair of the Cape Town chapter at the 2017 AGM. After spending his entire working life in the construction industry, Michael was looking for the quiet life before taking on his role with the ISAA. Little did he know!

Lorraine Keenan

Chairperson Gauteng

Born in Dublin, living in Joburg for the past 45 years with family and friends. Lorraine celebrates her Irish heritage as Chairperson of the Irish South Africa Association in Gauteng. She takes great joy in sharing the Irish culture and customs with the Diaspora.

After many years of sales and marketing activities she has joined the ranks of Social Entrepreneurs in the Tourism space. Working with international volunteers. She is driven by her passion and commitment for the development and upliftment of impoverished 
communities in South Africa.

Mandy Slabbert

Chairperson Durban

Tireless leader, generous organiser, and reluctant public speaker, Mandy has headed the KZN Chapter for four years. With a son currently completing an MBA at Trinity College Dublin, we trust that there are a few more years left in her leadership role.

Our Durban Chapter

Ronnie Clarke - Treasurer

Born in Belfast, lived in County Down until moving to South Africa in 1975 for the start of TV (TV engineer); widower of 2nd generation Irish Kathleen; joined Irish Friendship Society (precursor of the ISAA); elected Treasurer when ISAA was formed.

Derek Griffin - Secretary

Born in Cape Town, his Great Grandfather was from Limerick, and Grandmother from Co.Cavan. Spent ten years in the UAE as a teacher and school principal, now freelancing as a writer and copyeditor. Aspires to be a thespian.

Raymond (Ray) McNulty

Born in Killala, Co Mayo. Came to South Africa in 1969 and has been here on and off since. Lives in Westville with his wife Helen. Four children. Almost-retired metalworker. Been a member of the Irish Association for many years, became more active in the past three years. Has been known to tell an almost-true story, and is still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.

Our Gauteng Chapter

Claire Sullivan - Vice Chaiperson

Claire has been involved in various Johannesburg based Irish Associations since the 1980’s having been a founder member of the Irish Women’s Association and currently fulfils the portfolio of Vice Chairperson of the Johannesburg Chapter of the ISAA as well as being involved with the Social Media aspect of the Association. Claire comes from the small heritage village of Ardagh, County Longford and returns to visit as often as possible.

Breda Kenealy - Secretary

Breda is from Dublin. She spent 7 years in Zambia before coming to South Africa in 1976. She has been involved with various Irish Associations for the past 40 years. Breda is one of the founder members of the Irish South African Association.

Helen Greene - Treasurer

Helen lives in Johannesburg with her husband John, a fellow Dub, and their 1 year old daughter Trixie. She works in Change at a Pan African Investment Bank and in her free time enjoys public speaking, cycling and anything outside in the sun. She has 30 years of Irish weather to make up for after all !

Sharon Rankin - Committee Member

Originally from Derry, Sharon lived in the UK and Scotland before moving to South Africa in 2008. She joined the ISAA in 2009 in Gauteng and is mainly responsible for assisting the committee to organize social events. Sharon left SA in 2011 for a four-year stint in Australia but returned to Johannesburg in 2015 and is hopefully here to stay, and back as an active member of the committee.

Pat Gaffney - Committee Member

Originally from Killeshin which is over the river Barrow outside Carlow town. Pat has seen many changes in SA since his arrival in 1966 to take up a position in wheat milling with a division of Tiger Oats. He arrived to work at their KSM division in Queenstown and later in East London and Randfontein. Pat left milling and formed his own company - The Gaffney Group and for about 30 years specialised in publishing and advertising, he is now retired and lives in Illovo Sandton.

Hannah Harrington

Originally from Mitchelstown, Co Cork, Ireland. Hannah has been involved with the Irish community since arriving in Johannesburg in 1972. Currently her main focus within the ISAA committee is on the St Patrick’s Day functions. Hannah is the proud owner and operator of Mountain View Guest House in Northcliff, Johannesburg.

Our Cape Town Chapter

Maureen Sharpe - Vice-Chairperson

Born in London, Maureen’s parents were from Dingle, Co. Kerry. Maureen has been involved with various Irish organisations in Cape Town for over 25 years and was a founding member of the Irish South African Association in 2001.

Valerie Doherty - Secretary

Originally from the UK, Valerie spent a number of years in Ireland before moving to Cape Town in November 2015. She has always worked in administration management, both in the high-tech industry and latterly in a school for hearing impaired children. She resumed her education in a part time basis in the 1990’s obtaining her MBA at Brighton University, majoring in Human Resources Management.

Kevin McEvoy - Treasurer

Born in Cape Town. Kevin’s father’s family is from County Tipperary and his mother’s family from County Kilkenny. Kevin is a retired accountant and is involved in his family’s business

Will Carter - Committee Member

Will’s Irish heritage can be traced back to ancestors from the Vales of Antrim, but his forbears were Scots. Born in Cape Town, he is a workaholic entrepreneur and in his little free time, sustains a strong interest in creative writing, good literature, Celtic music and song. Will is an active officer in the world’s oldest Christian Order of Chivalry and his passion is spending meditation time in rainforests around the globe.

Fr. Dick O’Riordan - Committee Member

Born at Monard, Whitechurch, County Cork. Fr. Dick has lived and worked as a Priest in Cape Town since 1967, with occasional sprints across the borders of South Africa.

Dr. Sandren Naidoo - Committee Member

Dr Sandren Gopal Naidoo is an historian, archivist, genealogist and educationist. He is currently working as a school inspector in the Western Cape Province. Dr Naidoo is a former under and post-graduate student of Professor Donal McCracken, from whom he cultivated an interest in Southern African/Irish history. At various platforms he has delivered several talks on the Irish in South Africa. Dr Naidoo has published several articles and is currently writing a book on the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement.

Ms Fiona McCosh - Committee Member

Fiona produces a calendar annually and is a keen photographer. She also provides the photography for the Cape Town Chapter

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