The reality of life in London for young Irish emigrants and fostering a connection with Ireland for those of Irish descent.
According to Irish liaison officer with the Greater London Council Steve Brennan, Irish people who emigrated to London in the 1950s and 1960 tended to believe they would go home to Ireland at some stage.
In most cases they haven't went home, in most cases they’re still here.
As many Irish people believed their move abroad was temporary, they never really bothered to try and make the city a better place to live. Irish people in London have the worst forms of accommodation in the city.
It’s not because not like Irish people like living in those conditions, it’s because that’s what they get here.
The new reality for young Irish arriving in London is they are staying for good as there is no work for them to go back to in Ireland. Steve Brennan is working hard to make London a better place for them to live in on a long term basis.
For many Irish people, their sense of Irishness manifests itself through attending bacon and cabbage suppers or seeing a showband at the Galtymore in Cricklewood or the National Ballroom in Kilburn on a Friday night.
Manager of the National Ballroom Tony Smithers says his clientele is predominantly Irish with the remainder being of Irish descent. The audience age range is from 18 - 60 years of age.
It is like a community gathering, or a larger version of a pub scene.
Irish music manager Fachtna O’Kelly thinks any anti-Irish feeling in Britain comes from ignorance of things Irish. If Ireland was presented in a better way bias could be removed but,
We’re dealing with the media the same elements that destroyed the miners’ strike are quite capable of destroying whatever truth and justice there may be in the Irish people.
Fachtna O’Kelly is particularly incensed by Irish jokes, but journalist Brendan Martin does not find this form of humour objectionable.
The organisation Development of Irish Youth caters to the needs of and gives an identity to the younger generation of Irish in London.
Rather than attending the céilí dances of old, one member of the group prefers bands like The Pogues and The Men They Couldn't Hang. These bands perform a new version of traditional Irish music but within a London context.
Another man of Irish parentage has been interested in Irish affairs, politics, music and literature since he was a teenager. He became involved with the Development of Irish Youth from its inception.
I saw this as a chance of expressing myself, also expressing my identities, someone who is from London but who has an Irish background.
A woman who is a teacher says there is nothing in London for young children of Irish parents to support and develop their Irish background.
Another woman says
I’m not trying to be an Irish person I’m trying to gain interest in Irish culture and Irish affairs and I’m trying to combine the two, I’m interested in England as well.
A man talks about travelling to see the Republic of Ireland football team play Holland with a group of London Irish supporters. The reaction they received from supporters from Ireland was mixed. Some were impressed they were making such an effort to support the team but,
There were a number of people saying you know, you shouldn’t be supporting Ireland, you’re English.
This episode of 'TV Gaga’ was broadcast on 7 June 1985. This report includes footage from '7 Days: Emigration to London' first broadcast on 10 October 1967.