‘Irish Heart, Coventry Home’
‘Irish Heart, Coventry Home’ is the title of a year-long aural history project documenting the presence and impact of the Irish community in Coventry especially from the 1940s to 1970s. In 1971 there were over 20,000 Irish people living and working in the City.
Based on interviews with over 60 Irish residents of the City the project explores the social, economic, political and emotional aspects of this movement away from the mother country. Many came to work in industry, but by no means all. Among them were writers and musicians, including of course Joe O’Donnell.
Ciaran Davis, the Project Officer, has written for The Irish Times about the project. The exhibition is due to finish at The Herbert on April 10th and discussions are in hand about transferring it to Cork later this year or early next.
There are active links between Cork and Coventry, including exchanges between their respective Folk Festivals. Fans of Joe O’Donnell will remember that Shkayla played at Cork Folk Festival in September 2017 – Joe’s first return to Ireland in 40 years!
The project was funded by the Heritage Lottery, among others including Cork City Council, Coventry’s twin City in the Irish Republic. Simon McCarthy, Director of Coventry Irish Society, had a principal role in putting the idea together. The Society has been active in supporting the Irish community in the City since 1993.
You can watch the video summary of the project here.