Look Back To Look Forward: 50 Years Of The Irish In Britain

Irish in Britain celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with a touring exhibition

A captivating snapshot using oral history to portray the Irish community’s resilience, diversity and enduring contribution to modern Britain.

Sun 05 November - Sun 05 November 2023

· Wednesday 11am-6pm · Thursday 11am-7pm · Friday 11am-6pm · Saturday 11am-6pm · Sunday 11am-5pm

Tickets: FREE


By telling the story of 50 Years of the Irish in Britain, this project will help to educate the public in migration and the modern history of Britain and Ireland.

We will document and preserve the life stories of people of Irish heritage in Britain and the valuable contribution they have made through the recording and archiving of oral history interviews. In doing so, we will enable future generations to learn about the experience of the Irish in Britain and the remarkable community work, social engagement and political activism that takes place day in day out.

We want to ensure that the full diversity of the Irish community in Britain is represented in this project. We have been reaching out to underrepresented groups including those of GRT, mixed heritage and LGBTQ+ identities, and those affected by the residential home legacy in Ireland.

Our roadshow exhibition in November 2023 will showcase 50 of the oral histories we capture and ensure that the voices of the Irish community are heard far and wide.

The success of this project is dependent upon the involvement of Irish in Britain’s member organisations and our volunteer historians. We will provide training in heritage skills, oral history recording equipment and give logistical support, and work to remove any barriers to participation.

Our volunteer historians will carry out interviews with a range of subjects across the country, recording experiences relating to work and education, community and culture, family and society, politics and religion.

If you have queries or suggestions about the project please email [email protected]


The history of Irish in Britain – formerly known as the Federation of Irish Societies – provides fascinating insights into political and social developments in Britain and Ireland, Anglo-Irish relations and changing attitudes towards Irish immigrants in Britain.

Upon its inauguration in June 1973, the Federation provided a collective national voice for local Irish clubs and welfare centres at a time when many faced anti-Irish sentiment in Britain. The Federation campaigned on a range of issues including the Prevention of Terrorism Act and internment in Northern Ireland and championed the role of welfare organisations for community development and cohesion.

Amid a new wave of youth emigration in the 1980s, the Federation represented community interests to both Irish and British governments on behalf of Irish youth in Britain, many of whom faced housing shortages, social security issues and poor employment opportunities.

In recent decades, as the demographics of the Irish diaspora evolved, the organisation has campaigned on issues pertaining to health, ethnic representation, and discrimination, whilst continuing its political policy work and community engagement.

As a national umbrella organisation, Irish in Britain’s members include Irish centres and social clubs, welfare support groups, Traveller organisations, GAA clubs, language and heritage groups, LGBTQ+ rights groups amongst many others.

It is an example of the use of collective organising to give a greater voice to marginalised communities.

This project aims to tell the history of Irish in Britain, its member organisations, and the contribution they have made in areas of social and welfare support, music, arts and culture, politics and representation. In doing so, it will provide education and broaden understanding about Irish-led organisations, the Irish experience in Britain and migration more broadly.