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About the Project
Irish in Britain received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2013 to run a year–long oral history project, Irish Voices.
The project documents the journey of the London St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival over five decades. It includes the stories of those who marched, who organised, who watched and saw, those who performed, protested, danced and dreamed of thousands celebrating as one. The Irish Voices project spans across the spectators, performers, advocates and activists who were instrumental in the journey of the Parade. Over the course of a year the Irish Voices team and volunteers have heard their tales and truths, creating a collection of 40 recorded interviews which make up the archive.
Collecting Community Voices
The oral histories focus on experiences of the London St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and their range reflects the diverse voices of generations of Irish people who have lived their lives, raised their families and staked their claim in the city of London.
The stories collected reveal experiences of migration, community–led events and strong cultural traditions. These deep rooted memories sit alongside recollections of life as a community of suspect, the role of protest and the alternative voices that emerge within a migrant community.
Later, the experiences of the Parade as a city–backed festival and celebration of multi–cultural London bring second and third generation voices to the fore and showcase the different ways to be part of the Irish community in London.
The Irish Voices archive of audio and video recorded oral histories, their accompanying transcripts, and additional documents are housed at the City of London Metropolitan Archives. They can be accessed for free by members of the public at the Archives and here through the Oral Histories and Gallery sections of the Irish Voices website.
Working With Young People
A significant part of the Irish Voices project was to share the stories of the Irish community in London with young people across the city. The Irish Voices Schools project worked with groups of young people aged 11–15 years to develop a project Learning Resource.
Working with professional artists and the Irish Voices team the young people brought their own unique interpretations to the Irish Voices interviews through poetry, artwork and The Irish Voices Film. The Learning Resource, with workshop plans and examples of young people’s work can be viewed in the Learning section.
An exhibition showcasing the oral histories and images collected through the project, along with original artwork produced by the artists and young people opened at City Hall in March 2014 and toured a range of London libraries, venues and Irish Centres. For details of the exhibition and future events please view the Showcasing Our Project section. The exhibition is available for loan to other libraries, centres and venues. Please contact the National Cultural Coordinator, see the Irish in Britain website for up–to–date contact details.