To celebrate an historic year in Islington’s history with our first Irish-born Mayor, Cllr Troy Gallagher, Islington Council has partnered with the London Irish Centre to showcase the best of Irish culture and heritage across the borough.

Marking an historic year for Islington and the Irish community, Mayor Troy Gallagher (originally from Letterkenny, County Donegal) concludes his term as the first Irish-born Mayor of Islington in 2022. Islington Irish Month is a programme of events for all residents of Islington – those who have an Irish connection and those who don’t – to enjoy the diversity and richness of Irish culture and heritage.

Islington has one of the biggest populations of people who identify as Irish in the UK, along with Camden and Brent. Many people in Islington also identify as second or third-generation Irish. This month-long programme of events will focus on their stories, to explore personal heritage, share cultural traditions and encourage others to get involved.

Islington Council is working with London Irish Centre to organise these events, strengthening and furthering existing relationships, in support of the Mayor’s chosen charities: icap, James’ Place and forum+.

Scheduled events include:

  • Islington delegation at St. Patrick’s Day Parade (Sunday, 13 March) led by Mayor of Islington Cllr Troy Gallagher
  • Islington Trad Trail, Thursday 17 March: a mixture of classic and contemporary takes on Irish trad music at various stops across the borough. Featuring musicians, spoken word artists, song and poetry, with the trail accompanied by the Mayor.
  • Islington’s Charity Ceilidh, Friday 18 March, Islington Assembly Hall: an energetic night of dancing and traditional Irish music with Louise O’Connor and Celtic Dance Party. Don’t worry if you’re unsure as all instructions are given from a ‘caller’. Cabaret performer, Mark T Cox will set the tone as the MC for the evening, and there will be a raffle. All profits will go the Mayor’s Charities.
  • The St Patricks Weekend & Centenary Year Celebration Ball, Saturday March 19, Islington Assembly Hall: A gala dinner in support of the Mayor’s charities and in the spirit of the Irish dancehalls that were once an integral part of the Irish community. Tickets include a three-course meal and star entertainment on the night, speeches, special guests and a celebration on Irish heritage.
  • Business breakfast at the DoubleTree Hilton, Friday 18 March: a special networking opportunity for businesses and organisations in Islington to connect with Irish businesses, organised by Donegal County Council.
  • A special live broadcast from Islington on Highland Radio (one of Ireland’s top radio stations) on Saturday 19 March, featuring presenters Greg Hughes and Kevin Furey.
  • Sunday Mass, 11AM on Sunday 20 March: A special mass to celebrate the Irish contribution over the past 100 years at St John’s Chapel Duncan Terrace.
  • Family Day, Sunday 20 March: free family activities at Navigator Square throughout the day, plus musical performance from Irish band Goats Don’t Shave, special guests and speeches on a small purpose-built stage.
  • Schools activities: a programme of activities for up to four schools in the borough, with workshop leaders presenting a bespoke package of music, culture and history, created by the London Irish Centre.
  • Walks: three free heritage walks across the borough (Finsbury Park, Holloway, Archway) in the month of March organised by Islington Guided Walks.
  • Story-time for Under-5s with Olivia Armstrong who specialises in Irish and Celtic folk tales in Finsbury, North and Archway Libraries.
  • “Beyond the Spud” Cookery Class, Thursday 10 March, at St Luke’s Centre focused on Irish food, run by acclaimed Irish chef Niamh Shields.

Cllr Troy Gallagher, Mayor of Islington, said: “It is a great honour to be Mayor of Islington, and an even greater honour to be Islington’s first Irish-born Mayor. No-one can deny the important role that Irish people and Irish culture have played in Great Britain, and especially here in our part of North London.

“We want to create an opportunity to pay our respects to the Irish community and indeed to all communities across the borough with this fantastic programme of events. I’m very pleased that so much of the community is represented, with events for older people, children and families, schools and businesses in Islington.

“As Irish stereotypes go, we don’t mind being considered ‘great craic’ which is why I hope many people will come along and enjoy these events with their friends and families. I’m hoping we can all do our bit to fundraise for my chosen charities too – icap, James’ Place and forum+. Each of them does remarkable work, supporting people with their mental health, wellbeing and importantly, suicide prevention. You might be shocked to know that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50, so it is absolutely vital that we help out these charities as much as possible.”

Gary Dunne, Creative Director for London Irish Centre, said: “The London Irish Centre (LIC) team is excited to be collaborating with Islington on an excellent programme of cultural, heritage and community events this coming March. Islington is a borough which has both a proud Irish heritage and a dynamic present-day Irish community and is a place we love to work. Partnership is central to the LIC’s mission, and this is a very special one.”

The month of events begins with a reception with the Irish Ambassador and invited guests of the Mayor at the Irish Embassy on Tuesday, 1 March.

The full programme of events and information on how to book tickets can be found on the London Irish Centre website.

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