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Appeal for older Irish to share their stories

A London-Irish journalist is looking to hear from Irish people who came to the UK in the post-war years as he looks to celebrates the legacy of that generation.

Anthony Murphy is urging people to look at this picture of revellers at the Galtymore in the 1960s. If you are in it or it means something to you, he wants to hear from you but being in the photograph or even being in the Galtymore or London is not essential.

Anthony told The Irish World: “I would love to hear from anyone who has information to help my research.

“They don’t have to be people in the photograph. Anyone of that generation that would love to contact me can contact me. Get in touch. I’m just really interested to talk to them and get their stories and write something that honours these people.”

Anthony goes on to explain it was a personal bereavement that made him want to capture the stories of the older Irish.

“The genesis of the idea was losing my mum. My mum came over in the 1960s. That generation of Irish especially those in the 1950s and 60s are slowly, unfortunately, starting to pass on.

“I lost my uncle a couple of years before mum. He was a great storyteller having worked on the buildings in London throughout his career and he also had his experiences of the GAA and boxing.

“All these kind of stories that these people had about their time in London and Birmingham and Manchester and Liverpool are slowly being lost to us.

“I know that much has been written about that generation of Irish, about their experiences on the buildings, in the factories, the hospitals, the hotels but what I wanted to do was just talk more about their legacy, not about what they did but what they’re leaving behind.

“It’s time now that rather than talk about what they did we talk about what their legacy is.”
Anthony has been sharing the picture on social media and getting responses from people who recognise their friends and relatives.

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“I just thought it was a good representation, a little snapshot of that time and perhaps a little window into that period of their lives that we can start exploring and pay them the due respect that they have earned and just a good way of remembering them.

“I just threw it out there. I’ve been very surprised to see the number of times it’s been shared and the comments. It’s fantastic to see people’s comments.

“My cousin lives in New York and she put it on a few Irish groups and it turned out two of her friends had their mother and aunt in the picture.

“These people that I’m able to track down, hopefully we’ll get some stories, get some memories and just get an idea of what they believe they are leaving behind to the generation such as myself, the London-born Irish, to follow through: The communities they’ve built, the sports clubs they’ve built and the fact that many of the men helped build cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester and the women of the time propped up the NHS.

“Hopefully they’ll give the personal stories of how they feel now.”

Anthony plans to compare the experiences of the post-war Irish with those of those born in London and the new Irish that are arriving here now.

“I would like this to form part of a trilogy of features about that post-war generation moving onto that generation of people that were born in London with Irish parents and then moving onto the new Irish that are coming to the UK now and doing a bit of a compare and contrast of those generations.

“There is no more meeting outside the Crown for the job. The Irish coming over now are educated, confident. They have low budget airlines so they can get back as often as they like whereas my mum and dad would be lucky to get back twice a year, probably just once a year.

“It’s also about the new communities of Irish that are coming.

“Irish communities grew in the North West of London: Cricklewood, Kilburn, Ealing where I’m from and now a lot of the younger generation of Irish are starting to form in clusters in south west London: Battersea, Clapham and those places.

“I don’t want it to be exclusively London either.”

You can get contact with Anthony by emailing [email protected] or calling 07545580811.

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