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    “I Only Came Over for a Couple of Years” records experience of London Irish

    Monday, May 11th, 2009

    Yet another oral history project detailing the experience of elderly Irish emigrants has come to your correspondent’s attention. “I Only Came Over for a Couple of Years”, a documentary that was completed in 2005, is now available on DVD from the Irish Studies Centre of London Metropolitan University. The film is a collection of interviews of Irish elders who came over to London between the 1930s and 1960s.

    The DVD is a production of the Irish Elders Now project, which is aimed at building a substantial video and oral record of a generation of Irish migrants to Britain whose stories and experiences have been underrepresented in other official records.

    For more information and to order the DVD, visit the Irish Studies Centre website.

    Irish-born in US among oldest, least poor

    Monday, March 9th, 2009

    Irish-born residents of the US are among the oldest immigrant groups, and least likely to be poor, according to a survey released by the US Census Bureau. The study examined demographic profiles of the 38.1 million foreign-born population in the US. In 2000, 269,831 of those were Irish.

    The report found that the oldest foreign born populations tend to be from Europe, with those born in Hungary (64 years) and Italy (63.1 years) having the oldest median ages. Those from Greece, Germany and Ireland have median ages of about 60. The median age for the US population as a whole is 36.7, while the total foreign-born population has a median age of 40.2.

    Immigrants from Ireland have a poverty rate of only 5%; those from Ireland and the Netherlands were the least likely to be poor. In contrast, 51% of Somali residents live in poverty, along with about a quarter of those born in Iraq, the Dominican Republic, Jordan and Mexicio.

    In a separate study, the bureau has found that 12% of all Americans report Irish ancestry, or a total of 36 million in 2007.

    In researching this information, I was surprised to find that the Irish don’t even make it into a list of the top 25 countries of birth for immigrants in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, as evidenced by this graphic on the New York Times website.

    Related web pages:

    108-year-old Irish woman dies in SA – 18 years after emigrating

    Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

    A 108-year-old Irish women who emigrated to South Africa at the age of 90 died there this weekend, according to the Irish Times. Kitty Ball was born in Skerries in 1901 and moved to South Africa to be with her daughter and grandchildren. Mrs Ball had a rich and active life full of travel and sport, refusing to enter a nursing home as she believed they were for old people. She attributed her longevity to her habit of a glass of sherry every morning at eleven.

    Read the full story at the Irish Times website.

    FIS publishes guide to elders’ lunch clubs

    Friday, September 12th, 2008

    The Federation of Irish Societies in Britain has published the “FIS Guide to Setting Up an Elders’ Lunch Club”. It looks like a great resource for groups interested in enhancing the lives of elders. The handbook notes the benefits of a lunch club are extensive:

    A lunch club, not only allows organisations to improve their relations with elders but also provides an excellent social networking opportunity (for some elders, isolation is a stark reality within their lives) as well as offering an access point for various community services, i.e. Health, Benefits, etc.

    It’s a really comprehensive guide, covering organisational issues, finding premises, training volunteers and staff, nutrition and menus, promotion, record keeping, finances, and suggested meals.

    See the Guide on the FIS website.

    Member Publication: “Memories of the Past”

    Friday, August 1st, 2008

    Ottawa’s Irish Drop-In Group has created a wonderful miscellany called “Memories of the Past: Stories and Recipes from Ottowa’s Irish Drop-In Group”. The eclectic collection of reminiscences, poems, jokes, photographs and more is a splendid insight into the lives of the 40+ seniors in the drop-in group, which meets every week at Margaret Mary’s Church in the south end of the Canadian capital.

    Some of the contributions focus on individual stories of emigration and Irish and Canadian life, while others focus on the Irish history and heritage of the Ottawa area. Irish immigration to the area began in the early years of the 19th century, with sponsored immigration schemes; judging by this book, the Irish heritage of the area is rich and deep.

    The book also contains about 60 recipes, including such traditional favourites as barm brack, colcannon, champ, porter cake, beef stew, and many soda bread recipes. A treat!

    For more information, visit the website for the Irish Society of the National Capital Region.

    Pictures of the launch event are also available. (scroll down in the centre section until you see the link to the June 8 event.) You can also hear contributors to the book at The Gaelic Hour website.

    Would you like to share what your group is doing? Drop a line to and I’ll share it with Ean members.

    Summer roundup: From Galway to Turkey, exhibitions reveal emigrants’ lives

    Friday, August 1st, 2008

    Exhibition Roundup

    There are a number of interesting exhibitions that those interested in emigration might be interested in, no matter what part of the world you find yourself in this summer.

    Dublin: Strangers to Citizens: The Irish in Europe 1600-1800 is continuing at the National Library of Ireland through December 2008. It’s a fascinating look at a little-known aspect of Irish emigration history.

    Liverpool: Fis 2008 celebrates Irish culture and explores links between Ireland and Liverpool. It’s taking place at the Novas Contemporary Urban Centre on Greenland Street, and will last until 7 September. For more information, see the artinliverpool website.

    New York: Catholics in New York 1808-1946 at the Museum of the City of New York explores the social and political history of the establishment of the Catholic Church in the city. Much of the exhibition focuses on the experience of the immigration Irish and later generations. It’s on until December 31. See more at the museum’s website.

    New York: “To Love Two Countries: Ireland’s Greatest Generation in America” features photos taken in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia by John Minihan – a portait photographer better known for his work with people like Samuel Beckett, Edna O’Brien, Ray Charles, and Al Pacino. A book accompanies the exhibition, which runs through December 2008. This exhibition was opened by the Taoiseach on his visit to New York. See the Irish Arts Center website for more information.

    Galway: The Galway City Museum has two exhibitions of interest: a photography exhibition focusing on the experience of Irish emigrants in Britain, and another focusing on President John Kennedy’s ‘homecoming’ visit to Galway 45 years ago.

    Turkey: An exhibition focusing on one of Ireland’s most famous 20th-century emigrants, Samuel Beckett, is on display in Diyarbakir at the Diyarbakir Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It is part of a series of cultural events marking the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. For more information, see the Turkish Daily News website.

    Boston: “Celebrating Celtic Prize Fighters: 1820-Present” is an eclectic collection of boxing photography and artifacts. Runs through September 2008 at the John J. Burns Library at Boston College. For more information, see the website.

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