The fight to keep an Irish Cultural Centre

I just thought I might share a letter which the Irish Times ran this morning.  (This seems a bit unhumble, because it’s by me, but I’ll ask all of your forgiveness.)

Madam, – I was pleased to read of Culture Ireland’s “Year-long, €5 million, arts-driven charm offensive on the US” (LifeCulture, June 3rd).

It is a shame for those emigrating to London that the home of Irish culture here might well be lost within nine months. Hammersmith’s Irish Cultural Centre does yeoman service promoting our heritage and arts in a city with a long and continuing connection with Ireland. With the lastest exodus of young Irish arriving in London in the recent downturn, surely the Minister for Arts and his advisers should consider the implications of the loss of an excellent and timely asset? – Yours, etc,

PÁDRAIG BELTON

If this might interest you, there is a page on Facebook devoted to keeping the Irish Cultural Centre open.  Next to the €5 million of Irish tax pennies Culture Ireland have spent to show The Quiet Man to Americans, it would be a paltry amount to keep a cultural home open for aging Kilburn labourers, survivors of our industrial schools (half of whom emigrated, generally to England), and younger exiles fleeing the recent downturn.  Some might say Ireland owes them.

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  • Cynic2

    Perhaps they might pay for it themselves? There are a lot of them and a few pounds across the year might not go amiss.

  • pippakin

    Ireland does indeed owe many of these people, and yet it could be argued that so do the British, where many will have worked, probably in the most menial of positions for most of their lives.

    I hope the British government/Kilburn Council have been approached. It should not cost too much if both countries support it. The centre should not be at risk.

  • Alias

    Given the size of the Irish community in the UK, they could easily fund such centres if they saw them as beneficial.

    You’ll have a hard sell trying to fund them via a tourism budget…

  • otto

    Don’t mean to be ignorant but the centre’s website’s down and I can’t find out what goes on there. I spent many happy after-hours in South Manchester’s Chorlton Irish Club and I’ve done a certain amount of drinking in South London’s Swan. Neither of these Irish cultural institutions looked like it needed a sub to survive. Which activities in Hammersmith need support or is it just the purchase of the building?

  • otto

    Just been told by my Mrs. that Chorlton’s closed. Apparently the extension of opening hours for everyone else did for social clubs. Bloody neo-liberals and their free market vandalism.

  • damon

    Do the Irish in London really need a council subsidised cultural centre these days? Any more than a Scottish, Welsh or Lancastrian one? What do they do that local Irish people don’t do anyway? The Irish have become quite English really compared to the later arrivals to London that have changed the face of neighbourhoods, Kilburn particularly so, in recent decades. I see the letter writer had an address of ”Annerly Park SE20” which is near where my Irish parents settled. I don’t know any official Irish clubs in that part of south London, but plenty of places that were popular with Irish people. Some have gone though due to the decline in numbers, and the new Irish people going there to escape the recession wouldn’t be so interested in Irish cultural spaces I think.

  • lamhdearg

    i have to go with Damon on this, its not as if the irish comeing to london do not speak the lingo, and as the council are paying out 5 million a year in interest alone all of which it must bring in, in tax ect, including taxing the large irish ex pat community, is the gain for a few worth the pain for the many.

  • lamhdearg

    coming, what a thicko.

  • Speranza-II

    Fado,Fado-Once upon a Time They Where Fighting To Keep The Irish Out Of England-Now They’re Fighting To Keep An Irish Cultural Centre Alive-It’s like playing Texas Poker with a Traveller.The difference in a 14 card deck and a thirteen card deck.It’s not Royality that Triumphs in the end -It’s The Joker.The Greatest way to Insult a Traveller is of course through Charity.Gambling five million euro on the Irish vote abroad and banking on the the Seven Billion the Queen gave the chef – it looks like the Irish economics of Charley will win the day.It’s delusional to Imagine That The British Government want the Irish In England.Investing 5 million in an Irish Cultural Centre is a waste of time.Another wave of working-class emmigrants are on their way to find work.I carried out a Government-sponsored survey 7 years ago for a local project.The results were Shocking.60-70% of Irish working-class youths had a hard-drugs problem at some stage on some blocks of flats.85% were likely to be unemployed-I mean ffs would you bring a ‘zombie out for a cup of Tea in your back Garden?Imagine 500,000 of them.It’s their flesh and blood that will come to Haunt England.An Irish Cultural Centre in England should be at the Centre of a Campaign to Pressurize the British Government Not to Allow Fine Gael off the Hook On This Matter. Stop The Exodus- Support the Irish Labour Government plans to create 500,000 jobs.Satire aside.
    Fairplay to ye for supporting the Irish language Revival.
    Enda the Beggar won’t even put a bloody fada in his name.The Irish at home in Mother Ireland can be just as prejudiced towards their own Irish culture as anybody,anywhere.