Join us during #LIF2023 as we celebrate, commemorate and memorialise ‘anniversary’. We will also lay down memories for future recollections and considering our day-to-day rituals.
- Celebrate our ‘key-to-the-door’ year with us!
- 21 Festivals
- Day-to-day memory making
- Key moments
- Stories and call to join us
- Documentary recommendations
Liverpool Irish Festival has made it to twenty-one. Symbolically, this is the age when children pick up ‘senior’ status in the family. Customarily, keys were given to mark this birthday. This marker made us think about anniversary, commemoration and marking time.
It’s perhaps not surprising that anniversaries are on our mind this year. We established ourselves in 2003, 20 years ago. It’s 15-years since Liverpool became European Capital of Culture; 25-years since The Good Friday Agreement and 100-years of the Republic of Ireland.
The funerals of notable figures over the past year -and centenaries or other memorials- have shown how we offer respect to lives past. Inaugurations, coronations and installations show, perhaps, how we offer respect to people we hold in power. Votes, personal targets and ceremonies are often about looking ahead.
Since our first Festival in 2003 (Garva, Tom Paulin, Eamon Coye, Sean McNamara); we’ve played host to dancers, singers, musicians, filmmakers, academics, activists and performers. Looking back through the brochures reminds us of the meta-perceptual helmets visit in 2015; Kíla in 2018, John Spillane in 2012 and Ed Byrne and Damien Dempsey in 2008. We’ve had The Irish Sea Sessions, breakthrough films, competitions, exhibits and much more. Each year, we do our best to bring you different voices, strong discussions and entertainment. You can see all our previous programmes here, if you’d like to jog your memory.
As well as commemorating the big events, we want to think about what do we do with day-to-day events? How do we create memories for ourselves that help us to mark time, create memories and show people we care? What are the day-to-day rituals we use to shape our days, keep us healthy and connected or fuel our minds? How do they build to create, share and highlight life-events? Anniversary seems to be key to this. Whether it’s
- a week since your first date
- 60 years of marriage
- your child’s first day at school
- World Book Day
- your cousin’s bar mitzvah or
- a Super Bowl party…
…people across the world have developed celebrations. These lay down memories, bring people together and document their time on this spinning ball we call Earth.
This year, as with any year, anniversaries straddle everything. They mark moments of peace and terror, love and hate, silence and noise. They document reconciliation, struggle, searches for justice and societal reform.
- 10-years since The McAleese Report
- 25-years since The Good Friday Agreement, the opening of Liverpool’s new Irish Centre and the installation of the Liverpool Irish Famine Memorial in Liverpool
- 175-years since the seven-year migration caused by An Gorta Mór (the Irish Famine).
In looking back, we can see how far we have come, but -additionally- how far there is still to go.
For the Festival we’ve created a timeline (see below) looking back over 5-year interval markers. By no means is it a complete history of anniversaries (even of the years represented), but -even in this list- we see a world building towards a recognition of individual freedoms and one of swift technological advances. We bear witness to struggles for personal identity and (collective) societal change. We can see violent defiance and defiance for positive change. As we consider our programme, and the anniversaries we looking back on making, we’ll also think about what future timelines might look like and what we’d like them to say about us, today. We invite you to join us in that vision, into laying out your hopes and aspirations and to thinking about what your next big milestone might be.
Our Festival is made of stories about Irishness and reveals people searching for -and finding- their identity. We encourage you to join us in the physical and virtual spaces we build, in the hope you can celebrate, reflect and build with us. Our team can’t wait to see you and share time with you. In the meantime, gabh cùram agus fuirich sàbhailte/take care and stay safe!
Use our handle @LivIrishFest or hashtag #LIF2023 on all platforms to get in touch or comment on the Festival as we go along.
About: The Liverpool Irish Festival (registered charity No.110126, Company No. 4800736) is governed by a volunteer board, chaired by John Chandler, an original founder. We receive regular funding from Liverpool City Council’s Culture Arts Investment Programme and the Government of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs Emigrant Support Programme. In 2020, we received HM Government’s Cultural Recovery Funding: #HereForCulture. We have been fortunate to receive a second round of National Lottery Heritage Funds for work on the Liverpool Irish Famine Trail, which we will be developing until 2024 under this project. Tourism Ireland are a Festival sponsor and we are pleased to have The Irish World as a media partner. To each we say thank you and go raibh maith agat/may you have goodness.
For readers with television licences, the BBC has recently released a couple of documentaries readers may find interesting.
- A one-off piece: Northern Ireland’s Peace Babies (23 mins): https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001l70k/northern-irelands-peace-babies
- A four-episode series, Endgame in Ireland: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/p0f9ctf1/endgame-in-ireland
- Shown in April 2023: The Agreement is a 25-year reflection on The Belfast Agreement: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001l1kw
Please note, there are likely many other documentaries available and the Festival has no BBC ties. These were the ones that had come to our attention, but a Google search would reveal others that might be accessible in your region.
These may also be iof interest, for those looking in to Home Rule and Good Friday Agreement anniversaries:
This time line looks briefly at the last year, and -using 5-year intervals- offers some of the anniversaries that have passed. It is not a full history. Its purpose is to show us a snapshot of events that have shaped or shaken British and Irish lives, or those globally. In doing so, we see philosophical shifts, political activism and cultural icons move through time.
400+ years ago
Year Years ago Event
1603 420 Queen Elizabeth I dies. She leaves a successional crisis and the contentious issue of Protestant leadership over a formerly Catholic nation
1723 300 Adam Smith -The Father of Capitalism’- is born. Smith goes on to theorise free market economies
1773 250 American colonists reject British East India Company imports by dumping 342 chests of tea in to the harbour. This rebellious act became known as the Boston Tea Party
1798 225 The Irish Rebellion of 1798 takes place in and near County Wexford. Presbyterian radicals, Catholics and republicans joined forces against Anglican rulers, angry at their lock-out from power. The rebellion was suppressed by the British Army, with c.50,000 dead
Under 200-years ago
1823 200 In Ireland, The Catholic Association is established to campaign for equal rights for Catholics
1833 190 The Slavery Abolition Law expanded The Slave Trade Act of 1807, making it illegal to purchase (or own) slaves within the British Empire (with two East India Company exceptions)
1838 185 After compensation payments to British colony slave owners, Britain’s enslaved people were released. It took until 1865 for the last enslaved people in America to be released from bondage (Galveston, Texas). This is 31 years after The Slave Trade Act
1843 180 Charles Dickens releases A Christmas Carol. 18 months later, Irish people are forced from Ireland due to hunger and landlord debts
1848 175 The third of seven years of death and migration, attributed to the Irish Famine (1845-52), continues
1873 150 Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis invent blue jeans and go in to production in Nevada (USA)
1878 145 Everton Football Club is founded
1878 145 Thomas Edison patents the phonograph in America, beginning the race to develop the telephone with Alexander Graham Bell
1893 130 Conradh na Gaeilge is founded
1893 130 Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance premieres at The Haymarket Theatre (London, UK)
1893 130 Charlotte Perkins Gilman releases The Yellow Wallpaper, a book on female depression and childbirth, a ground breaking piece of feminist literature
1898 125 Lewis Carrol (children’s author) and Aubrey Beardsley (decadent artist) -famed for his illustration of Oscar Wilde’s work- die
1898 125 Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol is released
1908 115 The first Ford Model-T rolled off the shop floor in the USA
1918 105 British women over the age of 30 win the right to vote
1918 105 World War I is brought to an end
Under 100-years ago
1923 100 Brendan Behan is born as Ireland becomes its own republic, following Home Rule political successes
1923 100 Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch fails. His arrest and imprisonment lead to the production of Mein Kampf
1923 100 Howard Carter opened the crypt of Tutankhamun
1923 100 The Eiffel Tower -and Statue of Liberty– designer Gustave Eiffel dies
1923 100 Turkey is founded as a new country after the fall of the Ottoman Empire
1923 100 WB Yeats is awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature and becomes a senator in the first Seanad Éireann
1923 100 Walt and Fred Disney open Disney Brothers Studio. Cross-country, Warner Brothers opens
1928 95 Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin in Edinburgh
1933 90 Drive-in movie theatres open in the USA
1933 90 Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany
1933 90 Hugh Gray (allegedly) captures the first photograph of the Loch Ness Monster, 45 years after it was said to have been seen for the first time by Alexander Macdonald
1933 90 The United States District Court ruled Ulysses not to be obscene, opening the doors for its first mass market editions
1938 85 For Hallowe’en, Orson Wells’s War of the Worlds is broadcast on the CBS Radio Network (New York, USA) generating over 12,500 articles in the following three weeks
1943 80 Lasting a year, a week and a day, Allied Forces invaded Sicily to reclaim it from fascist leaders
1943 80 Nikola Tesla -‘father of the alternating current’- passed away
1943 80 The anniversary of the Dam Busters’ raid on the dams of the Ruhr Valley. Living on in history, they are well known as No.617 Squadron RAF Bomber Command
75-years and under
1948 75 Nye Bevan champions the opening of the UK’s National Health Service following the National Health Service Act of 1946
1948 75 One year after helping to gain India’s independence from Great Britain, Mohandas ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse at Birla House (New Delhi, India)
1948 75 The Empire Windrush arrives on British shores from Kingston, Jamaica, carrying 492 (official figure) Commonwealth citizens
1948 75 The London Co-operative Society opened its first supermarket at Manor Park (east London, UK). This was the first-time customers would serve themselves to stock from the shelves
1948 75 The Republic of Ireland Act repeals Britain’s External Relations Act and introduces the Dáil Éireann
1948 75 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is signed by the United Nations, enshrining rights and freedoms to all humans
1953 70 James Bond hits the shelves as Ian Fleming releases Casino Royale, the first of 12 Bond adventures
1953 70 Signed in 1950, The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms -commonly known as the European Convention on Human Rights– came in to force. That same year, England and Ireland join the EU
1963 60 American President John F. Kennedy is assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dealey Plaza (Dallas, Texas, USA)
1963 60 Bristol’s Bus Boycott creates a watershed moment for Black politics in Britain when activists forced the transport company to overturn their ‘colour bar’ policy. All colour bars were deemed illegal in the 1965 Race Relations Act
1963 60 John Lennon utters the immortal line “would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewellery” at a Royal Command Performance at The Prince of Wales Theatre
1963 60 Martin Luther King Jr delivers his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, during the March on Washington, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (Washington DC, USA)
1968 55 Catholic civil rights activists in Derry faced a baton charge from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (known to have a large Protestant majority) at a Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march, leading to further riots
1968 55 Sirhan Sirhan assassinates Robert F. Kennedy at The Ambassadors Hotel (California, USA), 5-years after his brother, JFK, was murdered
1973/50 years ago
(Britain’s) Open University awards its first degrees
1.6m British workers joined the Trade Union Congress call to strike against poor pay and price rises leading to the 3-day week
Concorde crosses the Atlantic for the first time
Hip-hop is born when DJ Kool Herc flipped the switch on musical breaks and MC’ing over breakdancing at a Sedgwick Avenue (Bronx, NY, USA) party
Irish In Britain -a national membership network- is founded
London’s Old Bailey (the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales) is targeted with two Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombs in an attack known as ‘Bloody Thursday’. Between 180-220 people were thought to be injured
Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon; Mike Oldfield releases Tubular Bells and Paul McCartney and Wings release Band on the Run
Roe vs Wade changes the USA’s (federal) constitution, generally protecting a woman’s right to have an abortion. The reversal of Roe vs Wade in 2022 means that state laws are subject to change
The Irish Marriage Bar -forcing women to leave public service work at the point of marriage- is lifted
The Paris Peace Accord is signed by North and South Vietnam and the United States of America to officially end the Vietnam War
The Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso, Chilean poet and diplomat, Pablo Neruda, and British author, JRR Tolkien, each pass away
Discussions for a power-sharing arrangement with the Northern Ireland Executive and the cross-border Council of Ireland were held at Sunningdale Park. Talks collapsed after Unionist backlashes and the 1974 general strike
1988 35 The Ocean Steam Ship Company -better known as The Blue Funnel Line– closed its services. The line was founded by the Holts, a Liverpool family
1988 35 Liverpool TATE opens, transforming a previously derelict warehouse in Albert Dock in to a James Stirling designed, contemporary gallery. In Oct 2023, Liverpool TATE will close for a 3-year renovation project
1988 35 University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies is established following the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, to encourage greater understanding and mutually enriching contact between the islands. It’s a unique institution, designed around scholarship, outreach and policy impact
30-years and younger
1993 30 Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park is released
1993 30 The Maastricht Treaty -otherwise known as the Treaty on European Union or the foundation treaty- was rolled in to effect
1993 30 The Sister of Our Lady of Charity (High Park, Drumcondra, Dublin) sold part of their land to recover funds after some failed stock dealings. On commencing construction work, the new developer discovered 133 unmarked graves, with a further 22 being found later. Though slow to create action, this discovery -and the public outcry it raised- has led to official inquiries and commissions
1993 30 The United Nations appoint an Officer of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
1993 30 Warrington was targeted by IRA bombings, killing Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry and injuring 54
1998 25 Google is founded in Menlo Park (California, USA)
1998 25 Pope John Paul II formally apologises for the failure of the Roman Catholic Church to challenge the Nazis over the Holocaust
1998 25 Taro Chiezo’s Superlambanana is installed in Williamson Square, Liverpool
1998 25 The Good Friday/Belfast Agreement is signed, based on the “parity of esteem” between nations
1998 25 The Liverpool Irish Centre reopens at St Michael’s, having closed the Wellington Rooms in 1997
1998 25 The Liverpool Irish Famine Trail founded by the Liverpool Great Hunger Commemoration Committee
20-years and less
2003 20 Great Britain’s repeal of Section 28 ended the ban on the “promotion of homosexuality”, permitting the discussion of LGBT culture in education and media
2003 20 The US military enter Iraq in search of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ (WMDs), soon followed by British and other forces. To date over a 104, 000 people on all sides have died in the conflict and Iraq’s political stability remains unstable
2003 20 The Liverpool Irish Festival is founded, running a four-day programme (23-26 Oct), much of which was at The (much-missed) Flying Picket
2008 15 Liverpool becomes European Capital of Culture and Liverpool ONE opens
10 and below
2013 10 Liverpool Central Library reopens after a huge renovation project
2013 10 Philomena, a film about a former Irish institution resident (starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan), is released. This comes in the same year as the Report for the Inter-Departmental Committee to establish the Facts of State involvement with the Magdalen Laundries (widely called The McAleese Report) is issued
2013 10 Same-sex marriage is legalised in Great Britian. Two years on, Ireland will legalise same-sex marriage by a public referendum, being the first country in the world to do so by public mandate
2013 10 The world mourns the loss of Nelson Mandela (b.1918-d.2013) and Seamus Heaney (b.1939-d.2013)
2018 5 A referendum in Ireland changed the constitution to permit abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, amending the UK’s 1861 Offences Against the Person Act
2018 5 At least 83 people were wrongly deported by the UK’s Home Office during The Windrush Scandal, leading to o the eventual resignation of Home Secretary Amber Rudd
2018 5 Liverpool installs the first UNESCO World Music City Music Board
2022 1 People remembered Queen Elizabeth II, Pope Benedict XVI, Lord David Trimble, Cherry Valentine, Terry Neill, Ashling Murphy, Chloe Mithcell, Ashley Dale, Sam Rimmer, Olivia Pratt-Korbell and those killed at Creeslough, following their deaths, last year. We also remember those who have died in the Ukrainian-Russian War, begun by Vladimir Putin in 2022
2023 0 This year we have been sad to announce the passing of local historian Michael Kelly and singer, songwriter and activist and Sinéad O’Connor.
Associated events (please note, these may have passed)
First published 10 Sept 2023. Updated 22 Sept 2023.