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    Emigrant film dominates Irish awards

    Friday, January 11th, 2008

    The emigrant-themed film Kings has dominated the nomination for the Irish Film and Television Awards. The film, which tells its story mostly through Irish, depicts the troubled lives of a group of Irish emigrants who left Galway for London in the 1970s. It received 14 nominations, including the categories of best Irish film, best actor (Colm Meaney), best supporting actor (Donal O’Kelly and Brendan Conroy) and best screenplay (Tom Collins). The awards ceremony will be held on 17 February.

    The film, based on Jimmy Murphy’s play “Kings of the Kilburn High Road”, has also been put forward by Ireland to the Oscars for consideration for the best foreign language-film. The film is getting mixed reviews in the US, however. Several commentators have noted their opinion that the film is too confined by its theatrical roots.

    Visit the IFTA website.
    Read the reviews on the Reuters and Boston Globe websites.

    New moves on free travel for older emigrants?

    Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

    Older emigrants living in Britain may soon be getting access to free travel in Ireland, according to a report in the Irish Post. The newspaper reports that leading politicians have promised that the issue is being prioritised to be addressed when the Irish Government reconvenes after the summer holidays.

    Emigrant advocates have been campaigning on this issue for years, and while there appears to be much goodwill toward the idea among politicians, there have been difficulties in implementing a plan.  Last year, then-Minister Seamus Brennan attempted to introduce a provision that would have allowed for free travel for those abroad who were receiving an Irish pension; the EU Commission rejected the proposal as discriminatory. Currently residents of the island of Ireland are entitled to the free travel scheme once they reach 66.  

    Most campaigners want to see free travel introduced for all Irish nationals who have reached pension age. The newspaper quotes a Department for Social and Family Affairs spokesperson:

    “The Government will examine the introduction of free travel for Irish citizens of pension age, particularly those resident in Britain, when visiting Ireland and press the European Commission to examine a similar EU-wide scheme.”

     The paper notes the free travel campaign is backed by the Green Party, a coalition government party, and the opposition Labour Party.

     The issue was one of those that loomed largest at the Irish Pensioners Consultation and Conference Day recently organised by the Irish Elderly Advice Service at the London Irish Centre.

    Read the full reports on the Irish Post website:

    Tipp man to become Tube’s most familiar face

    Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

    A man who emigrated from Tipperary in 1962 will have his portrait on the cover of the London Tube map.

    John Hough left his home near Borrisokane at the age of 19, in response to an ad from London Transport. He took up work with the company and has been there ever since; he worked for five years as a bus conductor before becoming a booking clerk for the Underground. He now works a station supervisor for Wembley Park.  

     The Irish Times reports,

    “There wasn’t much going on in Ireland. I was only living on a small farm at the time; there was no way that was going to sustain me for the rest of my life. There wasn’t much on the horizon.”

    Mr Hough will retire next week and was honoured yesterday by London mayor Ken Livingstone. His 45 years of service makes him the longest-serving transport worker.

    His portrait will be printed on five million copies of the London Underground pocket Tube map; the work is part of the “Platform for Art” Project

    The Guardian quotes Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, who created the drawing with Paul Ryan:

    “Just as the tube map is a piece of portraiture of London, this works in the same way, but of a person. I was inspired by the Hockney Portraits Show at the National Portrait Gallery last year. It also has an element of social history – John came over from Ireland in the late 50s as there was no work, so it represents the movement of labour and immigration.”

    Cannes features Irish migrants on film

    Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

    A story of Irish immigrants in Kilburn will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival. “Kings” was adapted from Jimmy Murphy’s play “The Kings of the Kilburn High Road” by Irish filmmaker Tom Collins. The film tells the tale of six men who move to London for work in the 1970s; they are reunited for a funeral thirty years later.

    The filmmaker said in the London Evening Standard:

    “Our aim was to make a ‘ foreign’ film in England because I’m no longer sure England as we knew it exists. Our characters still talk in Irish in an attempt to accentuate their personal and national bond and their language is, to them, their last act of solidarity.

    “This is an untold story of immigration and loneliness which continues today with migrants from Lithuania, Poland and China.”

    The story is told in Irish. Micheál O Meallaigh, Senior Commissioning Editor of TG4, told the Derry Journal: “This is a story told for the first time in our own language but it is also particularly relevant to the growing immigrant population who will be exposed to the same pressures and alienation that the emigrant Irish experienced in foreign territories.?

    See the film distributor’s website.

    Self-proclaimed "plastic Paddy" weighs in on rugby controversy

    Saturday, February 24th, 2007

    The Irish Times carries a letter today regarding the rugby match between England and Ireland this evening at Croke Park. Much has been made over the controversial matter of “God Save the Queen” at the stadium, which was the scene of a massacre of 14 innocent people by British paramilitaries in 1920. Dr Richard Lanigan writes from Surrey, England to say that he was the grandfather of Dick Lanigan, who stood
    beside Mick Hogan for a team photograph moments before Hogan was shot dead in that travesty.

    He goes on to say, however,

    On Saturday Grandad would also recall that England gave his son and many other people a living when the Irish Republic could not provide work for the m in the 1950s and 1960s. I spent many happy times with Grandad when my parents broke up in the 1960s and he never commented that his grandson considered himself to be English back then. Today his great-grandchildren have an English mother and a “plastic Paddy”
    for a father.

    If he were alive, I am sure he would be cheering on the Irish with the rest of the family, hoping sportsmen can set an example where politicians have failed.

    The letter was favourably commented on during RTE’s morning show on Saturday.
    Read the letter at the Irish Times website.

    Leeds report highlights needs of homeless

    Monday, January 29th, 2007

    The Leeds Irish Health and Homes group has recently published a report on homeless Irish people called “Gan Didean? (“Without a Place to Stay?). The report highlights the importance of cultural awareness in service provision and makes a number of recommendations. These include:
    - Consultation with Irish organisations in the planning stages of initiatives to deal with homelessness.
    - Better ethnic monitoring to provide data for improvements in service provision.
    - The inclusion of Irish ethnicity in diversity-training curricula
    - Action plans by statutory authorities for culturally sensitive services to the Irish community
    - Consultation with Irish organisations by statutory organisations to provide support
    - Provision of culturally specific supported housing and care for Irish people.

    The report also includes an overview of the work of LIHH and several case studies. It is available through LIHH at

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