EPIC Opens ’50 Years of the Irish in Britain’ Exhibition

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EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum has launched a new exhibition, ‘Look Back to Look Forward: 50 Years of the Irish in Britain’ – a unique heritage project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the national membership charity: Irish in Britain.

The landmark exhibition sheds light on the personal stories, struggles, and triumphs that have shaped the Irish community in Britain over the past five decades.

Featuring contributions from Irish cultural figures such as actors Siobhán McSweeney, Adrian Dunbar, Aisling Bea, broadcaster Terry Christian, musician Jah Wobble, and Moth Poetry Prize Winner Laurie Bolger, who has composed a bespoke poem for the exhibition, ‘Look Back to Look Forward’ offers a compelling narrative of the Irish experience in Britain.

Volunteers from the Irish community in Britain received specialised training to ensure the preservation of at-risk testimonies from the last half-century, capturing the sacrifice, joy, challenges, and vital role played by the Irish in modern Britain.

Nathan Mannion, Head of Exhibitions and Programmes at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, commented: “Look Back to Look Forward: 50 Years of the Irish in Britain’ is an incredibly timely exhibition that charts the highs and lows of British-Irish relations since the early 1970s from the perspective of the Irish community in Great Britain. As the rate of Irish emigration to Britain declines, and the Irish diaspora there matures, it has never been more pressing to record and celebrate the stories of those who have made it what it is. This is an exhibition not to be missed!”

Brian Dalton, CEO of Irish in Britain, said: “There has never been a more important time to celebrate our diaspora history and we are very proud to bring these stories home to Ireland after a successful tour of Britain. With the help of community volunteer historians and our member organisations, we have faithfully captured the stories and individual histories that have shaped the last 50 years of the Irish in Britain, creating a research and educational legacy for generations to come.

Aileesh Carew, CEO & Museum Director of EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, remarked: “Visitors to this exhibition will be able to see the dramatic contrast in the experiences of the Irish community in Great Britain from the 1970’s to the present day through the dozens of photos featured and hear about their experiences in their own words, through the oral histories featured. It is a truly remarkable snapshot in time.”

Selected Themes:

Home, Family, Identity – Finding Home: Explore the journey of thousands of Irish emigrants who sought to establish a sense of ‘home’ in a foreign land, navigating challenges and traditions while grappling with the complexities of identity and integration.

Work – Building Britain, Building Lives: Explore the integral role of Irish migrants in postwar Britain, contributing to the nation’s workforce, despite facing discrimination and adversity.

Culture: Discover the enduring influence of Irish music, dance, and literature on British society, from traditional Irish dance classes to the iconic performances of musicians with Irish roots.

Activism: Learn about the pivotal role played by Irish clubs and societies in Britain, providing support and solidarity to migrants amidst social and political challenges.

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