Irish immigrants have played an important role in making up the international community in London for centuries, the first burst of Irish emigration dating back to the early seventeenth century. By the early 19th century, the British Industrial Revolution was already in full flow increasing the need for migrant workers. Meanwhile, conditions were worsening in Ireland due to the Great Famine (1846-9) and as a result, the greatest influx of Irish emigration took place in this period of history.
The “London Irish” community
The 2001 census was the first to allow British citizens to recognise their Irish ethnicity, and not only those who were Irish-born. The figures showed that 674,786 people living in England (1.4 per cent of the population) were born in Ireland. This means that the UK is home to the highest concentration of Irish-born expatriates living abroad than anywhere else in the world. The largest Irish community can, unsurprisingly, be found in London.
So, What’s The Craic?
The “London Irish” community are going strong and have flourished in London; the best evidence of this is how the communities choose to express their Irish roots every year to celebrate their patron saint, St Patrick.
There are so many organisations, clubs and communities targeting the Irish community in London and those with an affinity with the Irish. Here is a selection of these communities ranging from cultural centres and art galleries to theatre performances and cinema.
About: “The London Irish Centre (LIC) is the heart of the Irish community in London.” For over 60 years now the LIC has dedicated itself to supporting Irish people living in London and promoting Irish culture and events.
As well as providing a diverse programme of events across the year, the centre provides a welfare service, which is the largest of its kind outside Ireland. They work to support the housing, income and health care needs of the Irish community in London.
About: The Irish Cultural Centre, established since 1995, is committed to sharing all aspects of Irish culture to London’s diverse community. The ICC offers extensive educational programmes to people of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds in order to promote intercultural exchange. This includes Irish language lessons and classes to learn how to play traditional Irish instruments.