Author: Laura Brown

Deborah Frances-White and The Guilty Feminist

Liverpool Irish Festival 2018: celebrating the breadth of Irish culture

Liverpool’s cultural ties with Ireland come to the fore once again as the Liverpool Irish Festival returns, this year with special performances by The Guilty Feminist (in a dedicated festival podcast) and Kíla. We also celebrate a new partnership with Liverpool Literary Festival, the return of the Celtic Animation Film Festival and IndieCork and a new play by Lizzie Nunnery.

Taking place 18-28 Oct 2018 in venues across Liverpool, including Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, FACT, Liverpool Philharmonic, St George’s Hall, the Florrie and the Victoria and Gallery Museum, the programme, curated by Festival Director Emma Smith and partners, explores the theme of ‘migration’. Artists, performers, musicians, writers and filmmakers explore the relationship between cultural identity and place and how Irish identity, in particular, is changing globally, affecting how we understand ‘Irishness’ in the 21st century.

The hugely successful podcast (30m+ downloads), The Guilty Feminist, comes to Liverpool Irish Festival as part of its In:Visible Women programme and for its first visit to the city. Comedian Deborah Frances-White records a live podcast in front of an audience at Liverpool Playhouse, discussing 21st century feminism and the paradoxes and insecurities which undermines it.

One of Ireland’s greatest music acts, Kíla, come to Liverpool Arts Club for a tub-thumping, rip-roaring, freewheeling jig of a gig. Supported by Bill Booth, Kíla’s eight members come from different musical backgrounds, including trad, classical and rock, which blend into the bands furiously energetic sound. It bristles with energy and passion and will be an unforgettable night.

At the Everyman Theatre, Lizzie Nunnery presents her new play with songs, To Have to Shoot Irishmen, exploring the events around the death of Francis Sheehy Skeffington during the Easter Rising in Dublin, 1916. Directed by Gemma Kerr (Hitting Town, Southwark Playhouse) and produced by Lizzie Nunnery’s Almanac Arts, the play runs for three nights (25-27 Oct).

For the first time, Liverpool Irish Festival unites with Liverpool Literary Festival, celebrating the writers, both emerging and established, who continue Ireland’s rich literary heritage. Events include Eamonn Hughes’ fascinating exploration and reflection on his work with Van Morrison, navigating the songwriter’s representation of Belfast. This is a joint event with The Institute of Irish Studies.  

At one of Liverpool’s newest venues, OUTPUT Gallery, an artist will create a new work responding to the successful repeal of the Eighth Amendment of Ireland’s Constitution, granting new body autonomy in Ireland. The exhibition will run for the duration of the festival part of the In:Visible Women strand. 

4* play arrives at Liverpool Irish Festival

After receiving four-star reviews for its London premiere at the King’s Head Theatre, a new play about Irish arranged marriages transfers to the LIVERPOOL IRISH FESTIVAL 2017 for its out-of-London premiere at The Capstone Theatre.

A new act set in Ireland has been written especially for the Liverpool Irish Festival and the production company has teamed up with Merseyside folk duo Jo Pue and John Walsh, who will be playing live Irish folk as the audience enter and during the interval.

This witty and moving new play, set in London in 1956, will be performed at The Capstone Theatre for two nights only at 7.30pm on Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 October. An open Q&A with the writer and cast will follow each performance.

Inspired by the writer’s grandmother who had an arranged marriage, Body & Blood, by Lorraine Mullaney, tells the story of an Irish girl who arrives in London in 1956 looking for her sister, who has run away from Ireland to escape an arranged marriage to a man “with a face like the Turin shroud”. 

But, instead of finding her sister, Aileen meets Jimmy, Uncle Colm’s young drinking and betting partner. Jimmy shows her a new side of life, full of freedom and possibilities. Will Aileen choose this new life or return to Ireland and make the sacrifices required to stay true to her roots?

The cast includes Pamela Flanagan as Aileen, Sorcha Brooks as Pegeen, Shane Noone as Jimmy and Ivan Murphy as Colm.

Here are some extracts from the reviews

“Mullaney’s play is a great framework for a detailed and unique exploration of Irish immigration the UK and the particularly unsavoury choices foisted on young women in this era.” The Reviews Hub

“It was a wonderfully refreshing evening of theatre, where one is moved and also comes away feeling like you’ve genuinely learnt something new and important.” London Pub Theatres

Performance dates and times 

Body & Blood presented by Unclouded Moon Productions at the Liverpool Irish Festival

Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 October at 7.30pm, followed by Q&A with the cast and writer

The Capstone Theatre, 17 Shaw Street, Liverpool L6 1HP

Tickets at £12/£10 + booking fee at

Top family fun for half term in Liverpool

Liverpool Irish Festival coincides with half term in Liverpool this year, and there’s plenty to do with families this year. It’s the 60th birthday of Liverpool Comhaltas, celebrating Irish culture and heritage, there’s films, the annual family day at the museum, children’s author Carmel Kelly, a special family weekend and, of course, the rip-roaring Liverpool Irish Festival family ceilidh.

The Secret of Kells: Empty Spaces Cinema

25 Oct, 2pm-3.30pm, Handyman Supermarket, 461 Smithdown Road, £4/£3

The Secret of Kells (Cert PG, 78mins) is an animated fantasy film in which magic and Celtic mythology come together in a riot of colour and detail that dazzle the eyes.
It is a sweeping story about the power of imagination and faith to carry humanity through dark times. Directed by Tomm Moore (Newry, NI) and Nora Twomey (Cork, ROI). Join Empty Spaces Cinema at The Handyman Supermarket for a pop-up film festival celebrating Irish cinema with a mixture of movies that look at Irish life.

Family Day at the Museum

28 Oct, 10am-5pm, Museum of Liverpool, FREE

Celebrate the Liverpool Irish Festival with family and friends in a day incorporating music, talks and activities for everyone to enjoy, across the day. Delivered in partnership with National Museums Liverpool, with contributions from Liverpool Comhaltas (celebrating their 60th anniversary) Melody Makers and the Institute of Irish Studies at University of Liverpool this is a true highlight of the festival, where culture sharing, enjoyment and conviviality are at the centre of all we do.

Across the day, there will be various activities, including: Carmel Uí Cheallaigh/Kelly (Galway, ROI) reading from her Gaelic and English children’s books in the morning; Liverpool artist Alison Little will run mask making workshops throughout the day; Pop-up Gaeltacht is an informal affair, where an Irish language speaker will be present in order that anyone wishing to share a few words (cúpla focal) of Gaelic can and is welcomed to do so. @PopUpGael. It also forms part of a wider Family Weekend programme, which includes a Children’s Hour with Carmel Kelly and a Family Céilí.

Liverpool Comhaltas and Liverpool Céilí Band evening

28 Oct, 7.30pm, music from 8pm, Liverpool Irish Centre, FREE
Join Liverpool Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and the Liverpool Céilí Band in celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of Comhaltas in Liverpool. Entertainment by Liverpool Comhaltas musicians – past and present – as well as some special guests.

Children’s Hour with Carmel Kelly

29 Oct, 10.30am-11.30am, Liverpool Central Library, FREE

Carmel Uí Cheallaigh/Kelly (Galway, ROI) is a children’s author and picture book creator, writing in Gaelic and English. Her motto is “Picture books are for everyone”.
A librarian herself, Carmel’s early works are an introduction to Gaelic for the young. Working with inspiring illustrators, they brings words to life on the page. This is an opportunity to hear her breathe life into the words of books such as Goldilocks and the Three Pigs to Hallowe’en favourite Spidey.

Family céilí and Comhaltas’s 60th celebrations

29 Oct, 2pm-5pm, Liverpool Irish Centre, £5/£2

The Family Céilí is one of the most popular family events at the Liverpool Irish Festival and this year returns, at a new location which welcomes families to join Liverpool Comhaltas in the spiritual home of the Irish community on Merseyside, the Liverpool Irish Centre (6 Boundary Lane, Liverpool L6 5JG). Bring family, friends and your dancing feet to join the fun and have a go a learning some Irish céilí dances, complete with live music from Liverpool Comhaltas. No previous experience is necessary as full instructions will be given, from a great dance caller.

Finns Hotel Ceilidh Band: Fundraising dance

3 Nov, 7.30pm-11.30pm, £5, Ullet Road Unitarian Church

Finns Hotel Ceilidh Band will play – for one night only – fundraising for Irish Community Care. Finns Hotel is a long established, but recently dormant, ceilidh band which started during the miner’s strike in the 1980s.
Irish Community Care works across the Liverpool City Region; in Cheshire and Wigan and Greater Manchester, too. Irish Community Care supports Irish and Irish Traveller people through times of uncertainty, trouble, hardship or isolation. We make sure people have a decent place to live and are safe and well. We ensure that they settle well in the community, whether as new arrivals in the country/area or from prison release, maximising their income through training, employment and welfare benefit entitlement and helping them to feel part of and connected to local communities.

All money raised will contribute to this much needed work.

A new history of the Liverpool Irish

A new book on the history of Liverpool Irish will launch at LIF2017.

‘In Hardship and Hope’ by Greg Quiery tells a narrative history of one of the largest European migrations in modern history and how Irish culture has shaped Liverpool.

Liverpool’s Irish heritage is well known. A large proportion of the city’s inhabitants boast Irish ancestry. A new book, written by social historian, musician and guide Greg Quiery presents a narrative history of the community. Launching at the Institute of Irish Studies during the Liverpool Irish Festival, the book describes the struggle for social and political acceptance in Liverpool by the Irish immigrants and the impact of the city’s Irish heritage on Liverpool’s modern culture.

From Newtownards in County Down, Greg Quiery moved to Liverpool from Belfast in 1974. He is a former fellow at the Institute of Irish Studies, a board member of the Liverpool Irish Festival and Chair of the Liverpool Great Hunger Commemoration Committee. ‘In Hardship and Hope’ charts the rise of Liverpool’s Irish population, from the first merchants in the 16th century to ‘Lyerpole’ to the steady migration after the Act of Union in 1801. As the Irish economy declined, but its population rapidly expanded, Liverpool welcomed an increasing number of Irish migrants. As the Irish famine reached its height in the 1840s, it is estimated 2.3 million Irish emigrants arrived in Liverpool.

Delving into the socio-economic, political and cultural impact of this population shift, the story is occasionally bleak, exploring slum housing and poverty, ongoing sectarian conflict, anti-Catholic sentiment, social reform, the impact of faith, riots and disturbances. Anti-Irish sentiment continued into the 20th century, particularly in 1909 and into the 1930s. As xenophobia swept Europe, Liverpool was not immune. The Liverpool Review described the Irish as “a real alien menace” in 1934.

The book examines how the Irish influence contributed to the modern Scouse identity. Irish nationalism and its strong ties to the Labour movement and the Labour Party in Liverpool, the role of the Liverpool Irish in the War of Independence laid the foundation for shaping modern Liverpool’s revolutionary state of mind. “An anti-establishment attitude …has survived in Liverpool … ever since”.

With the arrival of Merseybeat and the flourishing of Liverpool’s Scouse identity, a strong affection for Ireland remained in its second and third generations. As sectarianism declined, Liverpool and Everton football clubs each commanded a greater allegiance from both Catholics and Protestants than former sectarian institutions. As is noted, both Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II visited the city’s cathedrals in 1978 and 1982 respectively.

In the words of Dr Kevin McNamara, former Labour MP and Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, shortly before his death in August 2017: “(This book) is that unique combination of carefuI and popular scholarship. (Greg) pulls all the strands of the complicated history of the Irish in Liverpool and district together in a few hundred pages of easy reading”.

Mary Hickman, Emeritus Professor of Irish Studies and Sociology at London Metropolitan University writes: “From poverty to politics (the book) covers most aspects of Irish Catholic experiences in Liverpool and many of the most significant characters”.

Commenting on Greg’s book, Professor Frank Shovlin, Head of Department, The Institute of Irish Studies: “Covering 500 years of Irish interaction with Liverpool, nobody is better placed than Greg Quiery to unpick and elucidate the intricacies of that long relationship. Unparalleled in his expertise on the Liverpool Irish, a great friend of the Institute’s, and an historian with deep reverence for our forebears, Greg provides a wonderful addition to our knowledge of this city with this marvelous new volume”.

Greg Quiery: “Having arrived in Liverpool in the 1970s I was surrounded by people sharing their living history and stories of Irish heritage. There’s an importance in remembering our history, the way migrants were treated, often marginalised in poor housing and poverty. By the 1990s, Ireland’s popular culture meant that past discrimination was forgotten, but migration continues to be a significant force in our world today, which is why the documentation and understanding of the Liverpool Irish remains so important.”

The launch of ‘In Hardship and Hope’ takes place at 6pm on 23 Oct 2017 in the Eleanor Rathbone Building, in partnership between the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool and the Liverpool Irish Festival.

In:Visible Women – let’s talk about women

A new strand at Liverpool Irish Festival gives a platform to the voice of women in art, academia, political debate and history. Exploring the issues women face in the UK and Ireland, both historically and in contemporary society, the strand will see key events focusing on different discussions and encouraging the audience to reflect on the challenges women face. It is an important moment for women politically and culturally, in the UK and Ireland, with continued discussion on visibility, gaze, political and sexual rights, including abortion. With 11 women per day travelling from Ireland to England for abortions, some in Liverpool, this an opportunity to join the discussion. In the first year of In:Visible Women, the key events include:

In:Visible Women, Illuminating Debates

27 Oct, 9am-5pm, Liverpool Central Library, £5/£4

History can, too often, reflect on men and their stories. In:Visible Women begins with case studies of Liverpool Irish women from history, exploring their role and society. In the afternoon, the discussion shifts to political debate including the campaign to Repeal the 8th, abortion legislation, marriage, faith and gender equality.

A full day’s schedule will be available. Artists Casey Orr and Alison Little will take part.

Visible Women – New and powerful women in music

27 Oct, 8pm-10.30pm, £14 + 7.5% booking, Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room

An evening of exceptional female talent from Liverpool and Ireland. Four acts celebrate contemporary music and the women making it. With modern takes on traditional songs, self-penned tracks and exceptional instrumental talent, the night is hosted by Gerry Ffrench, a popular local radio star and touring musical artist in her own right. The line-up includes sets increasing in length from Emma Lusby (Limavady, Co Londonderry), Mamatung (Liverpool), Sue Rynhart and Ailbhe Reddy (both from Dublin), who headlines.

Orla Guerin, Front Lines, Fault Lines and Deadlines – 30 years of Chasing the Story

26 Oct, 6pm-7.30pm, Eleanor Rathbone Building, Free

Orla Guerin became the BBC’s Egypt correspondent in 2013. Since then she has reported from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Tunisia and Libya. Organised by Institute of Irish Studies, in partnership with Liverpool Irish Festival, this free event will see her discuss her life and work.

The Lily and the Poppy

28 Oct, 3pm-4pm, Free, Museum of Liverpool

This strand of work between the Liverpool Irish Festival and the Institute of Irish Studies, features two high profile Irish women, speaking about reconciliation and living peacefully in conflict (chaired by Professor Pete Shirlow, Director of the Institute of Irish Studies).

Elisha McCallion was the first Mayor of the new Derry City and Strabane District Council, on its formation in 2015. She brought together statutory and community agencies in Derry to advance proposals for Crisis Intervention Services, to address the gap that exists for those feeling isolated and in crisis due to mental health issues. Elisha was elected to the Northern Island Assembly in March 2017, holding the seat previously held by the late Martin McGuinness. In June 2017 Elisha made history by winning the Foyle seat in the Westminster election, from the SDLP who had held it since 1983.

Dawn Purvis was a Member of the NI Assembly from March 2007-May 2011, representing East Belfast. She was appointed as head of the Progressive Unionist Party in 2007. In 2011, Dawn left politics and became NI Programme Director with Marie Stopes International(MSI), opening the first integrated sexual and reproductive healthcare centre in Belfast.  She is currently CEO of a housing charity.

Body and Blood

23 and 24 Oct, 7.30pm-10pm, £12/£10 + booking fee, The Capstone Theatre

Body and Blood is a new play exploring a buried cultural history – arranged marriages in Ireland. Inspired by writer Lorraine Mullaney’s grandmother who had an arranged marriage, Body and Blood is a dark comedy that tackles a tough subject with humour and live music.

It’s 1956, and young Aileen comes to London looking for her sister, but instead finds a new life of freedom and possibilities. Will Aileen choose this new life or return to Ireland and make the sacrifices required to stay true to her roots? And will she discover why her Uncle Colm refuses to return home? Body and Blood explores the conflicts and culture clashes resulting from migration and the pull of traditional Irish values, highlighting how far Ireland has come since the 1950s.

Zine Workshop – Spread the word and repeal the 8th

25 Oct, 1pm-4:00pm, £1 on arrival for materials; donations accepted for Abortion Support Network, Blackwell’s/Liverpool Blackwell’s (bookshop)

How can we use our creativity to influence others and affect change? Blackwell’s Liverpool will host a workshop looking at zines and posters as activism. Using collage, attendees will handmake booklets and posters to photocopy and distribute to friends, whilst discussing what UK citizens can do to help people seeking abortions in Ireland. Everybody is welcome. Some materials will be provided, but please bring along anything you would like to use. Run by Liverpool Blackwell’s, in partnership with the Liverpool Irish Festival.

LivIrishFest2017 to host inaugural Celtic Animation Film Festival

Liverpool Irish Festival is to host the inaugural Celtic Animation Film Festival this October, celebrating established animators of Celtic heritage and emerging animators from around the world.

As part of the festival, there is also a new Celtic Animation Film competition, showcasing short animated films made in Liverpool, Ireland or other Celtic regions.

The film festival will showcase storytelling related to Celtic identity, myths, cultural history and personal tales from Celtic animators around the world.

The “festival within a festival” will take place on 22 Oct, during Liverpool Irish Festival (19-29 Oct 2017) and will involve screenings and competition awards ceremony at 81 Renshaw Street in Liverpool.

The inaugural awards are divided into three categories, Student Short Film Award, Professional Short Film Award and International Short Film Award. The panellists include Matthew Gravelle – Award winning animator and lecturer at University of South Wales and Jared Taylor, Programme Director Animation, Director of Undergraduate Studies of the School of Design, Edinburgh College of Art.

Once dubbed the “Celtic Tigger”, Ireland’s animation industry has been an award-winning and high profile arm of its blossoming film industry. Critically acclaimed films like ‘The Secret of Kells’ and ‘Song of the Sea’ has married a blend of sumptuous animation with Celtic storytelling that has won over audiences and renewed interest in Celtic mythology. Liverpool Irish Festival, as part of its film strand, has increasingly reflected this trend; three years ago it screened the English premiere of ‘Five Fables’, written by Seamus Heaney narrated by Billy Connolly with a score by Barry Douglas and with beautiful 2D animation by Flickerpix.

Kate Corbin is one of the organisers of the Celtic Animation Film Festival. She says the quality of the submissions for the inaugural award have been incredible,

“The range of techniques, subjects and quality of animation across all categories is awe inspiring. We aim to highlight this excellent work through CAFc and encourage new and emerging celtic and international animators to forge an ongoing global community to celebrate and share their practice.”

Liverpool Irish Festival is the only arts and culture led Irish festival in the UK. Now in its 15th year it runs across ten days in October (19-29) and provides a platform for artists and performers across a range of disciplines, including music, performance, visual art, film, dance, theatre, literature and more. Celebrating the unique cultural connections between Liverpool and Ireland, this year’s festival programme includes a lecture by BBC war correspondent Orla Guerin, a new strand called In:Visible Women, exploring the forgotten stories of Irish women and the launch of a new book by Greg Quiery telling the story of the shared history between Liverpool and Ireland, and the impact on the culture of modern Liverpool.

To find out more and to book tickets click here.

The Breath (c) York Tillyer - 4 members, sat onteh floor in front of a large arched window

LIF2017 asks – what does it mean to be Irish?

Liverpool Irish Festival returns for its 15th year this October. 

  • Liverpool Irish Festival is the only arts and culture led Irish festival in the UK platforming an incredible array of art, culture, performance, film, music, literature, food and drink, talks and tours

  • It runs for 10 days between Thurs 19-Sun 29 October 2017 at venues including the Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room, the Capstone Theatre, Liverpool Irish Centre, Handyman Supermarket, Liverpool Central Library and more

  • It’s returning for its 15th year and involves hundreds of artists and performers

  • Expanding on previous festival events, In:Visible Women delivers a new strand of festival work exploring gender politics in Liverpool and Ireland’s history and culture, including a talk by BBC war correspondent Orla Guerin (in partnership with the Institute of Irish Studies at University of Liverpool); photography from Casey Orr,  children’s author Carmel Kelly and others.

Liverpool Irish Festival returns for its 15th year asking, “what does it mean to be Irish?” 2017 is a significant year for Irish culture and identity. With the potential impact of new Irish citizens applying for passports; a review of Ireland’s Global Diaspora and referendum policies plus the election of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, a growing conversation on the future of the island of Ireland and its relationship between “traditional values” and 21st century liberalism is surfacing. In its role as the largest festival of Irish arts and culture in the UK.

Liverpool Irish Festival is well placed to invite artists, academics and the public to explore these conversations and how the relationships between Ireland, Liverpool and the wider UK will develop at this critical juncture.

Highlights of the 2017 festival include:

Orla Guerin will give a lecture at this year’s festival

**BBC War Correspondent Orla Guerin reflects on a frontline career a broadcast journalist, experiencing some of the most unsettled war zones in the world. Orla’s lecture launches a new festival strand In:Visible Women, which explores some of the ‘forgotten women’ from Liverpudlian and Irish history, as well as contemporary issues facing women. This precedes a night of music from Liverpool and/or Irish female performers, including folk musician, Liverpool resident and Comhaltas player, Emma Lusby (Limavady, Co Londonderry); vocalist and composer Sue Rynhart and singer Ailbhe Reddy (both Dublin).

**Festival bands include Strength NIA (Derry) and Seafoam Green (Dublin). Live sessions take place in pubs across the city and a three-night festival club at Liverpool Philharmonic’s Music Room.

**Full performances of the play ‘Committed’. Having first appeared as a script-reading at Liverpool Irish Festival 2014 it returns after a successful run. Written by Stephen Smith (Belfast), the play is set in 1990s Belfast, against the backdrop of the peace process and continuing aggression and violence within communities.

**‘The Lily and the Poppy’, a strand of work (and name given to the festival’s partnership with the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool) first launched in 2016, returns with a talk exploring reconciliation, particularly within Ireland.

**A new Liverpool Irish history book by Greg Quiery (musician, walking tour-guide, writer and Liverpool Irish Festival Board member) launches at the festival, offering a definitive examination of the indelible historic and cultural bonds between Irish communities and “East Dublin”, as Liverpool is often known. The launch is sponsored by, and will take place at the, Institute of Irish Studies.

Composer Sue Rynhart will perform at In:Visible Women (c) Virginia Thomas Photography

Emma Smith, Festival Director says,

“Over the past 15 years the Liverpool Irish Festival has worked towards becoming the only arts and culture led Irish festival in the UK. Our consideration of contemporary arts practice, Irish culture and some of the more traditional elements of Ireland’s creative expression, permit us to engage in both current and historic stories that tie Liverpool and Ireland together. Because we have created and programmed a multidisciplinary festival, we offer the opportunity of hearing from a range of voices, providing the chance to hear these stories through written form, voice, music, song, dance, art, and performance. There are opportunities to speak with the artists, watch their work from a distance or engage directly. This leads audiences to a rich variety of events, practices and spaces. We have more exciting projects to announce for this year’s festival and we think it’ll be our most diverse and exciting yet!”

The full programme will be online to book tickets at from Mon 11 Sept 2017

Facebook, Twitter & Instagram search for LivIrishFest





The most diverse celebration of Irish culture in the UK, Liverpool Irish Festival began in 2003. Established to celebrate cultural connections between Liverpool and Ireland, bringing the two communities closer together through arts and culture, the festival has grown into a ten day festival of music, art, performance, culture, food, drink and film. Key artists to have performed at the festival include: Roisin O, Ciaran Lavery, Fearghus O’Conchuir, Terri Hooley, Ailís Ni Rhian, Lisa Hannigan and Dennis Connolly and Anne Cleary (2015’s Meta Perceptual Helmets). Liverpool Irish Festival works with partners across the city and Ireland including the Liverpool Irish Centre, Irish in Britain, Connected Irish, NML, Liverpool Philharmonic, the Unity, the Capstone and the Irish Embassy along with other social spaces such as The Caledonia, Kelly’s Dispensary and The Edinburgh.

The Liverpool Irish Festival is supported with Cultural Investment funding from Liverpool City Council, for which it is greatly indebted.

Bobby Sands mural (c) Stuart Borthwick

Listen to LIF

Hear the stories from LIF16 on the festival podcast.

Dr Paddy Hoey has spoken to some of the key speakers at festival events to hear what they have to say about Irish history, the notion of Irish-ness, about new works and stories.

Dr Stuart Borthwick talks about his love of political murals in Northern Ireland and his book ‘The Writing on the Wall.

Ian Lynch of Lynched talks about being in the best folk band working anywhere today.
Linda Ervine discusses learning Irish as a Northern Protestant and her film ‘What the Focal’.

Image of Ciaran Lavery on guitar and Ryan Vail on keyboard performing their album Sea Legs.

The official #LIF2016 playlist

Over the years, 14 to be exact, Liverpool Irish Festival has welcomed some wonderful musicians to the city. From Rusangano Family to Van Morrison, to Irish sessions in the Cali, to Ciaran Lavery, our appreciation and love of Irish music is as wild and diverse as the music is itself.

Liverpool and Ireland are brought together so sweetly in music, musicians exploring sounds, their culture, their identity, making friends and partnerships. Our ability to sit, write, listen, play, to dance and sing are just a  few of the cultural ties that twin us.

In 2016, we’ve invited one of the festival’s partners and friends, Mellowtone, to compile a Liverpool Irish Festival playlist. Featuring Liverpool and Irish artists, some who’ve played the city, some whose songs have inspired events, it reflects the rich diversity of Liverpool and Irish music.

Mellowtone says, “This playlist is curated by the Mellowtone friends and family. With selections from Mellowtone and the crew, artists on the label and our Ma’s and Da’s. We’ve chosen songs from our heads, our hearts and our histories.”

You can listen to the playlist here – it’s #LIF2016 on Spotify 

The full track list is;

Villagers – Becoming a Jackal
Sea Legs – Flow
Paul Brady – The Island
BP Fallon & David Holmes – Henry McCullough
The Prelude – Black Black
The Chieftans & Van Morrison – She Walked Through the Fair
Waterboys – All The Things She Gave Me
Dave O’Grady / Seafoam Green  – Whiskey
Lisa Hannigan – Snow
Van Morrison – TB Sheets
Damien Rice – Cannonball
The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York
Them – Baby Please Don’t Go
Divine Comedy – National Express
Luka Bloom – Dead of Night
Fionn Regan – The Underwood Typewriter
Ryan Vail – Wounds
June Tabor – Where Are You Tonight
Van Morrison – Gypsy Queen
The Dubliners – The Old Alarm Clock
David Holmes – Whistlin Down the WInd
The Undertones – Teenage Kicks
Foy Vance – Bangor Town
Paul Brady – Arthur McBride
The Frames (Glen Hansard) – Revelate
Rusangano Family – Heathrow
Claude Chavasse pictured

Chavasse: the lesser known story of a hero

A Liverpool writer will explain, in a lecture in Central Library on 17 Oct, how one of the British army’s most celebrated World War One heroes had a cousin who participated in the Easter Rising.

Oxford-born Noel Chavasse ( 1884-1917) was the only British soldier awarded the Victoria Cross twice in the First World War. A member of the Royal Army Medical Corps, he died of injuries received in the Battle of Ypres in August 1917. His cousin, Claude Chavasse ( 1886-1971) also Oxford-born, was one of the Irish nationalists rounded up by the British Army in 1916 in the aftermath of the Easter Rising.

Noel Chavasse moved to Liverpool aged 16 when his father, Rev. Francis Chavasse, was appointed as Anglican bishop of the city, living in the Bishop’s Palace, Abercromby Square. Regarded as the city’s most famous war hero, Noel Chavasse is commemorated in Liverpool with a park (near the Pier Head) bearing his name.  A large sculpture of Noel Chavasse,  made by local artist Tom Murphy, was unveiled in Abercromby Square in 2008, perhaps coincidentally, it is directly outside the University of Liverpool Institute of Irish Studies.

The exploits of Noel’s  cousin, Claude, are largely unknown in Liverpool, whereas in Ireland he achieved almost celebrity status, indeed – Brendan Behan is believed to have based the character ‘Monsewer’ in his play The Hostage on Claude Chavasse.

Claude first came to the attention of the authorities when he gave his name in Irish when stopped by a police sergeant in County Cork in February 1916. As the law stated that English had to be used when questioned by the police, Chavasse was arrested and spent two nights in Macroom Prison, where he alleged he was beaten for refusing to speak English. His relationship with the Bishop of Liverpool was mentioned when he appeared in court, but this was not enough to save him from being found guilty and fined £5.00. When he refused to pay he was sentenced to a month in prison.

The name Claude Chavasse then appears amongst those who were arrested by the British Army in the wake of the Easter Rising. He was held in prison for several days before being released without charge. He was then active in the War of Independence, during which he was again imprisoned and took part in a hunger strike. Chavasse took the Republican side in the civil war which followed. He was elected as the Sinn Féin representative for Galway at the organisation’s AGM in 1949 and remained active in the Irish language movement until his death in 1971

The Chavasse family was a very close one – Noel was engaged to another cousin, Gladys Chavasse at the time of his death in Belgium- so they would have been well-aware that Claude Chavasse, who was just two years younger than Noel, had supported the rebels against the British Army in Ireland.

“It was one of those unusual twists of history, to have two members of an upper-class English family serving abroad for the ‘freedom of small nations’ – one in the British Army in Belgium and one supporting the Irish nationalists fighting the British Army  in Dublin,” commented Tony Birtill.

Tony Birtill is a Liverpool-based freelance journalist and writer. He contributes regularly to the Irish Post newspaper and Irish language television and radio . He is author of A Hidden History : The Irish Language in Liverpool ( 2013) and teaches the Irish Language at St Michael’s Irish Centre, Liverpool. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists.

Picture courtesy of Claude Chavasse is pictured in the kilt.