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Concert For Homeless Irish In England

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The Stories Of The Irish Diaspora Discussion:     Concert For Homeless Irish In England

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Moira lives alone in Kilburn and will be 79 in December. From Waterford she went to London in 1942 as a 15 year old. "It has been a very lonely life. I helped my family in Ireland when they needed it. I sent parcels and money when they had nothing, but it isn't

remembered now or spoken about. It's like it never happened."

"When I go back I don't feel good enough. When it comes to money and the clothes I wear I am different. The last time I went I got the feeling they didn't want me and I don't think I will be back there again. The Ireland that I knew doesn't exist anymore," she says.

John is from Meath and 54 and has been away from Ireland since he was 16. He lives in Holloway. "If you are struggling they prefer you to go away so they don't have to look at you. I am proud of being Irish but if you are not self-sufficient there you better expect to be punished," he said.

Moira and John spoke to journalist Roisin Ingle for an Irish Times article on the tragic situation of some of our elderly emigrants in the UK, published in December 2004.

Both represent the forgotten Irish living in England. Many are old, lonely, and poor. Of the homeless in London it is estimated that 60 per cent are Irish. Surveys have shown that of all ethnic minorities in the UK the Irish have the highest levels of mental illness, poorest health generally, and die younger.

Among them are people whose combined remittances sent home to Ireland in the 1940s/50s/and 60s are estimated at £3.5 billion, a sum equivalent to the structural funds received from Europe in the following generation. In 1961 alone they sent home the equivalent of €13.5m, the cost to this Republic of running our education system that year.

A major open-air concert and exhibition in aid of our forgotten Irish in Britain will take place at the National Museum of Ireland at their Country Life site in Turlough Park, near Castlebar, Co Mayo on June 24th next. The `Streets of London’ concert will be in aid of London-based registered charities the Aislinn Return to Ireland Project and Cricklewood Homeless Concern. It will feature such top line Irish musicians and singers as

Sharon Shannon, the Fureys and Davey Arthur, Lunasa, Dervish, Cora and Breda Smyth, and the Gugenheim Grotto. The concert begins at 3 p.m. at Turlough Park.

An associated exhibition will open on Friday June 23rd at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Park, on the theme of emigration. Also called `Streets of London’, it’s official opening will be in July and it will continue to the end of September. Primarily a photographic exhibition it will show images from four separate collections

concerning Irish emigration to Britain, especially to London. It will look at emigration across generations under the themes of music, nightlife, street life, tradition, religion, politics and faces of emigration. A small selection of national registration identity card, travel identity card, suitcase(s), trunks, accordion, rosary beads/scapular, regional newspaper, record player and traditional music records, overcoat and hat, child’s toy(s), bottles of stout, train and underground timetables, will reflect the emigrant’s journey and experience away from `home.’ There will also be personal testimony from some emigrants.

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