Irish History Month


Did you know that throughout the month of March every year, Irish History Month takes place? An initiative brought about by the Irish Arts Foundation, first celebrated in Leeds in 2007, it is now in its sixteenth year. Irish History Month exists to promote the many positive contributions that Irish people have made in Leeds and also to introduce new audiences to the vibrancy of Irish arts, heritage, culture and history.


An afternoon of traditional Irish music hosted by local musicians took place at Castleton Mill in Armley on the afternoon of Sunday 6th March. The location, a beautifully restored Grade 2 listed former textile mill on the banks of the Leeds Liverpool Canal, provides local historical significance for the first event of this years’ Irish History Month in Leeds. Many Irish immigrants passed through or settled in Leeds during and after the Great Hunger 1845-1852 (also referred to as ‘The Irish Famine’) and were heavily employed in the local textile industry. The term 'Navvies' came from a shortening of 'Navigator', a job title for those that dug out the numerous canal systems of the 18th & 19th Century. The Irish Navvies were manual labourers working on civil engineering projects such as the Leeds Liverpool Canal that propelled the Victorian industrial revolution.

Irish History Month 2021 took place in vastly different circumstances this year due to the pandemic. With the continuation of restrictions on social gatherings and musical performances, our activity during the month was online.

Irish History Month

Irish History Month this year provided the platform for the launch of our Arts Council England supported research and presentation, 'Exploring the Musical Traditions of County Leitrim & County Fermanagh.' The project also includes stories from the North Leitrim Leeds-Irish diaspora.

Throughout the month, 'The Leeds Irish Music Programme' continued Tuesday evenings at 6:30pm on East Leeds FM. In addition to exploring different traditional Irish music historical regional influences and themes, the four programmes during Irish History Month caught up with local Irish organisations Leeds CCE (Irish Musicians Association), Leeds Irish Health & Homes, The Leeds St Patrick's Day Parade and Leeds Irish Centre.

A specially commissioned concert, filmed on location at Otley Courthouse featuring the celebrated virtuoso partnership, Máire Ní Chathasaigh (Harp) & Chris Newman (Guitar), was streamed on Friday 26th March. This event was presented in collaboration with Irish Music & Dance London (IDML), as part of the 2021 Digital Concert Series with support from the Irish Embassy in London - 'Creative Communities Initiative'

Assistance was provided by IAF CEO as joint musical director in an anthology project publication, ‘Corona Ceoil' (Music In A Time Of Corona') undertaken by Leeds Irish Health & Homes and renowned second-generation London born Leeds based poet Ian Duhig. who launched the project during Irish History Month and as on online event during Leeds Literature Festival.

For information regarding previous Irish History Month projects.

Irish History Month 2022

Irish History Month Programme 2020

Irish History Month Programme 2019

Irish History Month Programme 2018

An afternoon of traditional Irish music hosted by local musicians took place at Castleton Mill in Armley on the afternoon of Sunday 6th March. The location, a beautifully restored Grade 2 listed former textile mill on the banks of the Leeds Liverpool Canal, provides local historical significance for the first event of this years’ Irish History Month in Leeds. Many Irish immigrants passed through or settled in Leeds during and after the Great Hunger 1845-1852 (also referred to as ‘The Irish Famine’) and were heavily employed in the local textile industry. The term 'Navvies' came from a shortening of 'Navigator', a job title for those that dug out the numerous canal systems of the 18th & 19th Century. The Irish Navvies were manual labourers working on civil engineering projects such as the Leeds Liverpool Canal that propelled the Victorian industrial revolution.

Irish History Month

On Wednesday 9th March at Seacroft Community Hub, in collaboration with Leeds Libraries, Irish Arts Foundation Director, Des Hurley, chaired a discussion and presentation, ‘Untold Stories: The Leeds Irish Community.’ Untold Stories is a community archive project undertaken by the Irish Arts Foundation. Initially funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project looks at the experiences of the emigrant Irish community in Leeds in the second half of the twentieth century, particularly their settlement patterns and cultural traditions such as music, dance, song, and sport.

On Saturday 12th March at Chapel FM Arts Centre in East Leeds our new project, 'Exploring the Musical Traditions of County Cork & County Kerry', was officially launched. Supported by Arts Council England, this nine-month social history project will explore the musical traditions of County Cork and County Kerry in the south-west of Ireland, in particular the music of the ‘Sliabh Luachra’ area. The project will also include stories from the Cork and Kerry-Leeds Irish diaspora. ‘Sliabh Luachra’ (pronounced Sleeve Loucra) is the mountainous region along the Cork/Kerry border in the province of Munster straddling the county boundaries of Cork and Kerry. The name ‘Sliabh Luachra’ means "a mountain of rushes".

An afternoon of traditional Irish music hosted by local musicians took place at The Terminus, The Junction, and Alfred’s in Meanwood on the afternoon of Sunday 13th March.

To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March, The Leeds Irish Music Programmes on 22nd February and 22nd March included conversations with members of the Leeds-Irish community recalling memories of their arrival and experiences in their adopted city. Broadcast online on East Leeds FM, all shows are available online.

‘1922 - Traditional Music and the Inception of the Irish Free State’. At Kirkstall Abbey Visitor Centre on Tuesday 29th March, in collaboration with Leeds Museums & Galleries and as part of the ‘1152 Club: talks at Kirkstall Abbey’ project, Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of Leeds, David Cooper and musicians from the Irish Arts Foundation explored some of the themes and issues in Irish traditional music and song in the light of events that took place in Ireland a century ago - the War of Independence, the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the formation of the Irish Free State and the ensuing Civil War. As well as sketching out the political background to the events, the talk considered how music was performed and adapted for broader ideological and cultural purposes

Throughout the month an Irish educational and cultural exhibition, ‘Timeline,’ could be viewed at Armley Library & Community Hub.

https://www.irisharts.org.uk/events.html

The twenty-first Leeds St Patrick’s Day Parade took place in Leeds City Centre on Sunday 13th March, leaving Millennium Square at 10.30am.

Irish History Month 2021

Irish History Month Programme 2020

Irish History Month Programme 2019

Irish History Month Programme 2018