A hundred thousand welcomes – céad míle fáilte – is a phrase that adorns doormats, keyrings and tea-towels of second and third generation Irish people from Birmingham to Boston.
And for those interested in perfecting their pronunciation, Cornerhouse cinema is hosting a morning of Irish language films tomorrow for the Manchester Irish Language Group’s annual Irish Study Morning.
But you don’t even have to speak Irish as event organisers say the films tackle subject matter that will appeal to anyone interested in the immigrant experience, recent or otherwise.
James Byrne, a member of the organising committee, told MM his thoughts on what makes the event and the Irish language so popular among local residents.
He said: “The motivations of the group are twofold. It is important to promote the idea that the Irish language even exists. But also, it provides a great support network to recent immigrants.”
James has lived in Manchester for 20 years after moving here as a student and he has never looked back.
He is a firm believer in the well-known saying that Manchester is an Irish person’s second home.
He said: “I always felt comfortable here. You can hear Irish voices when you walk down the street, listen to Irish music any night of the week and get on the plane home to Ireland within half an hour.”
Not only is Irish music special to many Mancunians, but Manchester has played an important part in the making of some very famous Irish songs.
Irish singer Ewan MacColl famously penned his song Dirty Old Town about Salford where he ‘met his love by the gas work wall’. It is unclear whether or not the song is an endorsement of the city.
However, visitors were undeterred with large numbers of Irish graduates coming over to England following the recession as unemployment rates were exceptionally high in Ireland in 2012 and 2013.
The Irish Government gives more than £5million per year to immigrant community charities in the UK, like the Irish Language Group, as part of their Emigrant Support Programme.
In the case of the Irish Language Group, whose main drive behind their meetings is the social aspect, this is a nice helping hand but for other organisations this is still a badly-needed resource.
Many Irish emigrants from previous generations still experience the fallout from a more impoverished time – with alcoholism and homelessness rife among many older men.
Places such as the Irish Community Care centre in Cheetham Hill, provide an essential role with welfare and advice to the community, including specialist support for Irish travellers and survivors of institutional abuse.
Manchester Irish Language Group’s collaboration event with the Cornerhouse is in its eight year running and has grown year on year.
Irish Study Morning is at Cornerhouse from 10.30-13.00 on Saturday September 13.
To find out more about what the day or the organisation have to offer visit http://www.milg.org.uk/
You can also find out more about the work of Irish Community Care at http://irishcommunitycare.com/wordpress/
Image courtesy of Luke Harrison, via YouTube, with thanks