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Thackray fans Tessa Lowe and Rosie Pocklington are bringing Jakefest18 to Birmingham.

Jake Thackray spent the early years of Rock and Roll teaching in France and Algeria. He came back to England with a love of chansons. Friend and collaborator with Bressen, a huge admirer of Brel, he went on to have national and international success with songs such as 'On and On' and 'The Bull.'

Such is the wit and insight of his lyrics, Thackray is described as the Northern Noel Coward, A hardcore of fanatics gather together from far and wide every two years to celebrate Thackray, sing his songs and talk about his work.

This year Thackray fans Tessa Lowe and Rosie Pocklington are bringing Jakefest18 to Birmingham. We will have two music-packed days at the excellent Spotted Dog in Digbeth, 16/17 June, during the course of which we will also enjoy performances of the chansons beloved by Thackray.

It is the 40th anniversary of the death of Jacques Brel, so you are offered a Jake/Jacques weekend. One of our core aims is to introduced Thackray's work to a younger generation. If you love Alex Turner or Jarvis Cocker, you will appreciate the humanity and intelligence of Jake Thackray. Come and meet up with connoisseurs. Entry to all events is by donation, so no excuses. If anyone would like a performance spot for the Sunday Chanson Session, please contact us via our Facebook page /JakeFest18.

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Exclusive screening of John Hume documentary comes to Brum

John Hume documentary tours UK marking the Good Friday Agreement’s 20 year anniversary

Exclusive screening with Q&As from Director Maurice Fitzpatrick, in association with Birmingham Irish Association.

This spring, Irish Film London presents In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America on tour across the UK, including a series of screenings and Q&As with the film’s director Maurice Fitzpatrick. This film is particularly relevant in April 2018, in the context of the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and recent developments on Brexit.

Email to reserve a free ticket.

Film screening info:

In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America + Q&A with the film’s director Maurice Fitzpatrick

Touring to Birmingham 8pm Friday 6th April: Mockingbird Cinema, The Custard Factory. In association with the Birmingham Irish Association.

Ireland 2017. Dir. Maurice Fitzpatrick. With Liam Neeson (narrator), Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, U2’s Bono, John Major, Tony Blair. 90 min. Cert PG.

This feature documentary chronicles John Hume’s approach to politics in Northern Ireland in co-ordination with senior political figures in the US.

Inspired by Martin Luther King, rising from the riot-torn streets of Northern Ireland to enlist American Presidents from Carter to Clinton, this is the story f the extraordinary work of Nobel Prize-winner John Hume to harness and leverage US support to help to secure peace in Ireland.

Narrated by Liam Neeson and scored by Bill Whelan, the film includes interviews with President Bill Clinton, President Jimmy Carter, many US Senators and Congressmen, as well as Irish leaders and British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and John Major.

At a time of political instability, this is a timely film examining steady leadership and international co-operation.

Irish Film London’s founder Kelly O’Connor said: “We are especially looking forward to screening this film alongside events that our fellow Irish organisations are running around this anniversary. In particular, Agreement 20 in Manchester, a conference examining the impact and legacy of the agreement. Maurice’s film will be a rich addition to the political and cultural conversation in the coming months here in the UK.”

Touring to Birmingham 8pm Friday 6th April: Mockingbird Cinema, The Custard Factory. In association with the Birmingham Irish Association. 

Watch the trailer here:

More info can be found at

This tour has been made possible by the support of the Irish Embassy in London, and Culture Ireland.

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Celebrating 20 Years of Taaffe House

Deputy Lord Mayor Mike Leddy joined the celebrations as clients and staff celebrated 20 years of Taaffe House and Nehemiah UCHA. Sharon Toy Scheme Manager for and Llewellyn Graham CEO welcomed guests and provided a big Irish welcome for the Deputy Lord Mayor, complete with music and dancing from Little Jimmy and Micky Rice. With the help of residents, Mike Leddy planted a tree in the garden to commemorate the 20 year anniversary. 

Taaffe house is a housing scheme which specifically caters for Irish elders. There are Irish decorations, has posters and pictures of Ireland throughout the building and Irish entertainment is regularly provided.

The scheme is named after Father Joe Taaffe who served for many years as Roman Catholic chaplain to Birmingham’s Irish community. Amongst many initiatives, he was instrumental in relaunching the St Patrick’s Parade in 1996, developing the Irish Welfare Centre (now Birmingham Irish Association) and various community based self-help activities.

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St Patrick's Fringe a Success

A headline performance from Sharon Shannon, 65 musicians on the official St Pat-rocks stage, comedy nights, poetry dinners and more trad sessions than you can shake a Shillelagh at – 2018 has been a great St Patrick’s Festival and the fringe events have been hugely successful.

As with every year the focus of the Festival was the St Patrick’s Parade, marching through Digbeth from 12 noon on Sunday 11th March. Luckily for the attendees the bad weather held off, and another vibrant parade passed through Digbeth with a huge assembly of marching bands finishing the parade, led by St Patrick himself.

2018 saw more fringe events than any other year, most notably the St Pat Rocks Stage – the official St Patrick’s Festival stage! This year the line-up featured Forro Social Brazilian Folk, O’Fibbs Irish Band, Joe Broughton and the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble (a 65 piece folk orchestra!) and headline act Sharon Shannon! The stage area was full all day with nearly 2000 people on site – an impressive feat for a stage in its second year!

Other fringe events included the annual ‘Big Gig’ fundraiser at Hennessey’s Bar, the St Patrick’s Day Fundraiser at The Old Crown and several events in collaboration with Birmingham Irish association; a comedy night with Eleanor Tiernan at the Spotted Dog, a literary evening in The Old Crown, trad sessions in Cleary’s and Dig brew (Digbeth’s first and only brewery) and more!

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Birmingham Irish Commemorate Women’s votes

Embracing this year’s Festival theme of ‘Irish Women’, Birmingham Irish Association celebrated 100 years since the right to vote was extended to women and working-class men.

They marched through the St Patrick’s parade with placards decorated in commemoration of 100 years since the Representation of the People Act, and 100 years since Constance Markievicz became the first elected woman to parliament.

Bernie Walsh from Birmingham Irish Association said “It was a real honour to commemorate the achievements of the suffragette movement and the rights of women and working class men to vote”.

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President's Address on St Patrick's Day

Below is President Michael D. Higgins' St. Patrick’s Day message to Irish people at home and abroad.

In the address, the President emphasises the global nature of Ireland’s cultural heritage, the significance of the Irish diaspora and the “common history and identity we share despite the borders, oceans and miles that may separate us.” Building on a theme that has featured in many of the President’s speeches, the President highlights the importance of communication and of “a sense of inclusivity and the coming together of Irish people wherever they may be in the world in a spirit of support and solidarity.”

The President’s address will also be available on the website on St. Patrick’s Day, as well as on the President’s social media platforms.

In English

In Irish

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Winner of Poetry Award meets Ambassador

As the Winner of the Dan Mulhall Young Poet of the Year Award, Megan Mifsud, aged 13 from St Paul's School for Girls had the privilege of receiving her prize from the new ambassador to the UK; Adrian O'Neill and Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Anne Underwood.

The Poetry competition was launched by Birmingham Irish Association to promote Irish culture and poetry in Birmingham schools, especially in the run up to St Patrick’s Day! The award is named after 2017 ambassador Dan Mulhall who is now ambassador to Washington, for his well know love of literature and poetry.

A sack load of entries were posted and emailed to Irish in Birmingham and choosing the winner was hard work. Culture and Heritage Project Officer Peter Connolly said “We were delighted with the response we had to our poetry competition, it’s great to have such engagement from local schools, and this is definitely a competition we will run again!”

Birmingham Irish Association CEO Maurice Malone added “Megan was chosen as our winner for producing such a heartfelt and poignant poem, and showed a real mastering of the words she’s used.”

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Festive Visit from Year 5 Choir

Festive Visit from St Bernadette's School Choir and musicians gets Christmas season started at John McNally centre.

Clients of the John McNally centre were treated to a musical visit from the Year 5 Choir of St Bernadette’s Primary School, Yardley, and musicians Vince Jordan and Graham Alexander from Reel Note.

The choir and musicians joined staff and clients of the John McNally centre for their Christmas celebrations. A traditional Irish buffet was provided with a plentiful amount of pork pies, ham sandwiches and sausage rolls!

The school choir sang a few of their Christmas songs they had been rehearsing for their Christmas play, and with the help of Vince and Graham, they gave a belting rendition of the Galway Girl (the original one by Steve Earle, not Ed Sheeran!) much to the delight of one of the centre’s clients, who was a Galway man himself.

The John McNally Centre is run by Birmingham Irish Association, and aims to work with elderly Irish people in the community, many of whom suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s. Staff at the centre provide a cultural experience for clients, engaging them with memory games, physical activities, Irish sing-alongs and other activities, while giving the client’s family or carers a chance to take a break.

The pupils were a credit to their school and had no difficulty in talking to and engaging with the people at the centre, as some have family members affected by these conditions. The visit was part of an ongoing partnership between the John McNally Centre (named after the previous head teacher of St Bernadette’s) and St Bernadette’s School, long may it continue.

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Celebrate Mothers Day with The Birmingham St Patricks Parade

Celebrate Mothers' Day on Parade Day!

Birmingham St. Patrick’s Parade & Festival Calls on Community for mother day celebrations!

The Organising committee of the city’s much St. Patrick’s Festival and Parade are calling on to Birmingham’s community to wish their mums a happy mothers day, whilst helping to support the parade!

This year the Birmingham St Patrick’s Festival and Parade have joined forces with Kiely Bro’s Limited to present the Birmingham St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which will fall on Mothering Sunday, March 11th 2018

As part of this years theme, and due to the parade taking place on Mothers Day, the organising committee wish to celebrate ‘Iconic Women of Birmingham and Ireland.’

The committee would like to invite Birmingham to celebrate the most iconic women in their lives as for the first time ever the public will have the opportunity to spoil their mums with special messages and well wishes which will be on display throughout Parade day.

There are a variety of options available with parade route banners, spots on the big TV screen (in the festival area) and places in the official magazine all available, allowing attendees to show off their mum to thousands of people in attendance!

The parade will take place on Sunday 11th March 2017 in the spiritual home of the Irish, Digbeth, to find more details about mothers day wishes please visit our website

If you have a story of an iconic woman that you’d like to share,or any photographs which could be featured in the Birmingham St. Patrick’s Day exhibition, please email or please visit

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Win £100 in our Poetry Competition!

The Dan Mulhall Poetry Competition!

Our "Dan Mulhall Poetry Competition" closes on 31st January 2018 and is open to ages 11-16, with the chance to win £100 or a runner up prize of £50! 

The poetry competition is in recognition of Dan Mulhall’s work for the Irish in Britain, and Birmingham in particular

Poetry expresses emotion through verse on all matter of subjects, from current affairs, religion and identity to love, loss and everything in-between. It's a chance to voice opinion, share a memory or dilemma, impart advice, or indulge in writing about something you adore. From ballads and odes to rhymes and free verse, what inspires you?

The competition is open to young writers between the ages of 11-16. Entries are welcome on any topic and written in any format. Entries must be submitted by 31st January 2018 with the winner being notified on 17th March 2018. Entries can be submitted by post or by email to

The winning entry will be chosen by His Excellency the Irish Ambassador to the United States Daniel Mulhall and will receive £100 in book or E-Vouchers, and the Runner up will win £50.

"A man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery." James Joyce - Ulysses

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