FOR MORE THAN 150 years, Britain has been the go-to choice for many Irish emigrants escaping the country.
Some 19,000 Irish people emigrated to the UK last year, while an estimated 6 million people in Britain are believed to be third-generation Irish.
The Irish Studies Centre at the London Metropolitan University has been looking after an archive documenting the history of the Irish in Britain, spanning from the late nineteenth century to the present day, since 1991.
Sam M from the Dublin history blog Come Here to Me has recently returned from a work placement with the Archive of the Irish in Britain.
Here is a selection of some of the most interesting things he digitised at the Archive.
1. Flyer for a 1948 Feis in south-west London
The Feis, organised by the city’s Gaelic league, charged one shilling for admission. Today, there are over thirty GAA teams in London with the sport undergoing a major revival in recent years with the latest wave of emigrants.
2. Mass details from 1950
This advertisement is for Sunday mass in Irish at Corpus Christi Church, Maiden Lane, near Covent Garden.
3. The London Irish Centre, 1968
This advertisement for the London Irish Centre from 1968 uses the quintessential image of a young woman arriving in the city with a single suitcase. Open since 1954, the centre still plays an integral part in the London Irish community today.
4. Anti-internment march (c. 1972)
This poster is for an anti-Internment march in London from around 1972. Mobilising at three different points, the crowd convened at Speaker’s Corner where Bernadette McDevlin MP and Frank McManus addressed the demonstration.
5. The Sounds of Ireland (1980)
Poster for a pivotal three-night Irish music festival, The Sounds of Ireland, which was part of The Sense of Ireland festival in 1980. Sunday night saw three Northern Irish punk bands take the stage – The Tearjerkers, Moondogs and Rudi. Donegal-born rocker Rory Gallagher headlined St Patrick’s Day with Dublin New Wave legends The Atrix and DC Nien playing a different venue the same night. Wednesday night saw Dublin New Wave bands Berlin, a young U2 and the Virgin Prunes play Acklam Hall.
6. Pogues poster (c. 1983)
Rare poster for early gig from the Pogue Mahones, soon to the called The Pogues. The band played their first gig at the Pindar of Wakefield (same venue) on 4 October 1982 so this poster is likely to be from June 1983. They changed their name the following year.
7. Kilburn Irish Festival (1986)
Home to the largest Irish-born population outside of the island, Kilburn’s population is still around 13% Irish-born with an even higher percentage of Irish descent. An aging Irish population, most recent newspaper articles point to places like Clapham in South London has being the destination for this generation’s Irish emigrants.
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