Representatives from Coventry's three Gaelic football clubs come together to manage the Coventry men's team for the first time in their history. Photo by Jake Burnell.
Irish migrants moved to Coventry in their droves in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and the contributions - economic, cultural, and social - the diaspora has made are clear to see wherever you go in the city. That's why we produced Love Ireland - a week-long festival that celebrated and amplified Irish culture in the city's key Irish venues. Taking place over 7 days, Love Ireland included 10 events of sport, music, dance, and language for a programme that Coventry Irish Society described as 'what the community wanted.'
I was the Executive Producer for Love Ireland, line-producing a team to deliver the series of events. Together, we worked with 16 groups and 9 venues to create a festival that encompassed key aspects of contemporary and traditional Irish Culture into one, cohesive programme.
Gaelic football Family Fun Day
Gaelic football is one of Ireland's major sports but is less well known in England. Community groups wanted to amplify the sport, so I brought together the city's 3 Gaelic Athletic Association clubs - Roger Casements, Four Masters, St Finbarr's - for the first time (they had never worked together in their sixty year history) to assemble 1 Coventry men's and women's team to play against a Warwickshire county team and Erin Go Bragh from Birmingham. This event kicked off the festival, and the day's event included several matches, live music, and face painting.
Tullamore Irish Dance Class
Coventry boasts some of the greatest Irish dance schools in the world, so we amplified Tullamore Dance School's weekly class as part of the programme. Attendees got the chance to learn how to dance in a friendly ceilidh at Christ the King Community Centre.
Hearsall Inn Ceilidh
A weekly occurrence, the Hearsall Inn on Craven Street in Chapel Fields is a joyous music ceilidh. Guests joined a packed Hersall Inn, joined in with songs, and at the end of the night, watched Paul Cannon of the Dubliners play the Mandola.
Fire & Dust Coventry-Cork Poetry Exchange
Coventry pioneered twinning with other cities and has the more twin cities than any other city on earth. We worked with Fire & Dust, one of Coventry's main poetry nights and ran an online poetry night with a poetry night in Cork, Ireland.
We ran a beginners Gaelic language workshop for members of the public with Coventry Irish Society at Coventry Methodist Church.
Craven Street Crawl
A nod to a historic pub crawl in Craven Street which once hosted 8 Irish pubs. We produced four events of live music acts - Frankie, Michael Gallagher, Bang on the Ear, and the Flat - at four venues - the Hearsall Inn, the Craven Street Club, the 4 Provinces, and Flanneley's - that happened in parallel on a Friday night.
I brought together the Irish Dance Schools and three music acts for 'the concert' at Drapers' Hall in Coventry City Centre, hosted by BBC star Bob Brolly. The event featured Coventry-only artists and performers, showcasing the great local Irish talent, music and dance that the city has to offer. One woman was moved to tears, saying the performances took her back to her childhood in Ireland.