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Italian Associations & Walks

In 1888 a local priest, Father Tynan, realised the need for a society for the local Italian people. With the enthusiastic support of this now expanding community, The Manchester Italian Catholic Society was formed in 1888. It was a non-political organisation whose function was to look after the cultural needs of the colony's families. It instigated Italian language classes, social events, trips out, and the most popular event of the calendar of Little Italy, the spectacular 'Festa of the Madonna of Mount Carmel'.

This was later to become the 'Festa of the Madonna of the Rosario'. Men of the community would carry the statue of the Blessed Virgin through the streets of the city. An important name in the early days of the procession was Father Pappalardo who worked on the organising committee and continued the good work started by Father Tynan. The procession would start from St.Vincent's Convent, in St.Vincent's Street (just off Redhill Street, New Islington). For many years the sisters helped the Italian community (the convent eventually closed in the sixties). As times moved on, the Italians also attached themselves to St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church, and this is where the procession leads from today.

The Italians took part in their first ever Whit Walks in 1890. Their presence in this act of faith continues today through their offspring. Only the two World Wars have seen this procession postponed.

Surviving Bersaglieri helmet
In 1913 Mr. Domenico Antonelli founded the 'Star of Italy' musical society to promote the musical arts for the sons of Italian families in Manchester. Just over a year later 30 boys wearing the uniform of officers of the famous Bersaglieri regiment lead the Italian Catholic Society procession during the Whit Friday walks. So popular was the band, especially for its originality, that on several occasions it was engaged to help recruit men for the British army in both Manchester and Birmingham.

In modern times the Manchester Italian Catholic Society wished to broaden its appeal to all denominations of Italians and so renamed to 'The Manchester Italian Association', or 'MIA' (at the same time in the mid 1990's a breakaway association was formed, 'The Italian Heritage Association'). MIA today continues the good work started by Father Tynan 115 years ago.

Top left, bottom right: Mutual Aid Society rule books; top right, amalgamated with the Manchester Italian Catholic Society; bottom left, Circolo Italiano club
Another society which greatly benefitted the community was the 'Mutual Aid Society'. The Society was dedicated to Vittorio Emmanuel, King of Italy, and Giuseppe Garibaldi, its full title being 'Italiana di Mutuo Soccorso Vittorio e Garibaldi'. Founded in 1902 its aims were to help those who fell on hard times; by paying collectively into a joint fund, subsidies could be awarded to people who were in poor health, and to families who suffered bereavment. This was a non-political and non-religious society. Sadly due to falling numbers in the 1980s, this society was merged with the Italian Catholic Society, later MIA.

The first recorded committee of the Italian Catholic Society comes from 1910:

The Reverend Padre Pappalardo, C. Tiani, D. Antonelli, F.A. Nacci, D. Lorenzini, D. Pessagno, S. De Felice, G. Arcari, L. Granelli, A. Mazza, L. Di Rolla, C. Rosadi, C. Coniola.

The following presidents were also recorded. The first president to serve the association was Domenico Antonelli. Following presidents were: Marco Rea 1937-55, Alberto Tiani 1955-77, Giovanni Boggiano 1977-86, Gaetano Scappaticci (President of the amalgamation with the Mutual Aid Society).

The founder members of the old Italian Mutual Aid Society (Italiana di Mutuo Soccorso Vitorio e Garibaldi) were: Antonio Valvona, Carmine Tiani, Giuseppe Valentini, Emilio Palazio, Dario Nardini, Angelo Rea, Sarafino de Felice, Prof. Colombo Toledano, Dr. Casartelli, Marco Sinacola, Simeone Robino, Luigi Granelli, Prof. Azeglio Valgimigli, Giovanni Alberti, Francesco Arcari, Cav. Tartaglione, Michael di Cocco, and Lorenzo de Felice.

Antonio Scappaticci was the first president of the renamed MIA until his sudden death in Italy (he was a great guy and an extremely good president). He was followed by Anthony Schiavo, who, along with his committee, gave the Association a new lease life. Today the Association's good work continues under the guidance of our current president Lorraine Taurasi, and her dedicated committee.

Manchester Italian Association Members today
and organising comittee of the Madonna del Rosario Procession:

President - Lorraine Taurasi
Vice-President - Dino Visco
Secretary - Gerard Garside (Rea)
Treasurer - Sylvia Valvona
Giovanni Dellicolli
Angela Hampson (nee Schiavo)
Patricia Gonzalez (nee Schiavo)
Joseph Rea
Anna Dunn (nee Marrocca)
Mark Rea
Vincent Robino
Anthony Protano
Anthony Biagioni
Anthony Crolla
Anthony Rea
Philip Burns-Amato
Anna Fulchini
Steven Garside (Rea)
Shirley Visco
Dolores Norman (nee Rossi)
Loreta Rea
Robert Scappaticci
Wesley Scappaticci
Albert Rossi
Graziella Ferrera
Vitorio Forgetta

Balance sheets of the Manchester Italian Catholic Society

These sheets have a full list of community surnames. Please note these are large files.

1913 balance sheet
1938 balance sheet
1959 balance sheet
1968 balance sheet

See also:

Two of the original catalogue pages for the Madonna del Rosario used in the Whit Walk, shipped over from Italy in the early 1930s:
Page for Cav. Ferdinando Demetz wood sculpture studio
Original catalogue page for the Madonna del Rosario

The Manchester Italian Association website:


Italian Flag Day 1913 (pictured Mrs. Forte, my maternal great grandfather Carlo Tiani, and Pepina Patriarco)
Men and boys of the Italian procession, George Leigh Street, circa 1900*
The woman and girls of the procession in their first communion dresses*
Proud President Mr.Domenico Antonelli leading the procession and the Bersaglieri band that he formed, 1913 (courtesy of Mr. Roland Antonelli)
Carrying the Madonna, Calvary, and banners
Proud President Mr. Domenico Antonelli (first left) late '20s, founder member of the Italian Catholic Society
My grandfather Marco Rea, President of the association 1937 - 1955, with some of his children and Reverend Canon Ryan
Post war Whit Walk
Manchester Italian Catholic Society
members 1950s

Whit Friday 1950s, the crowds come out,
view from Piccadilly Gardens towards Market Street*


All text and images (unless marked *) Anthony Rea 2010
not to be used without permission. All rights reserved