Tony Birtill – an ongoing Irish legacy for Liverpool

A portirait of Tony Birtill.

Thomas Ryan (Conradh na Gaeilge Learpholl) remembers his friend, peer and fellow Irishman; considering the legacy he’s left behind.

Tony Birtill Library at Liverpool Irish Centre

In May 2022, Conradh na Gaeilge Learpholl proudly announced their creation of the Tony Birtill Library. Located in the Liverpool Irish Centre’s Heritage Room, the library honours our friend and teacher, Tony Birtill, who died 20 21 October 2021.

The Man

The cover of Tony's book, <em>A Hidden History: The Irish Language in Liverpool</em>.Tony was a Gael through-and-through. He was an enthusiastic teacher of the Irish Language and a good friend to all those learning it. His life was closely intertwined with the Irish community in Liverpool throughout his adult life.

An ever-present face at Liverpool Irish Centre, Tony taught classes there every Thursday night. Involved in the work of Liverpool Irish Festival (trustee), he was additionally a committed historian of the area, and its Irish links, being the author of the widely acclaimed book A Hidden History: The Irish Language in Liverpool (pictured).

Book Collection

Tony left a huge collection of books behind him. The books in the Tony Birtill Library are only a selection of Tony’s wide collection of books on the language, culture and history of Ireland. Conradh Na Gaeilge are delighted to make these available to the next generations of foghlaimeoirí (Irish learners) in Merseyside.

Tony most certainly would have approved of this use of his books. Most of the remaining collection, which could not be accommodated in his library at the Irish Centre, were donated to the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies library.

Tony’s library contains a wide selection of books, including books for children; easy readers for adults and textbooks such as Learning Irish, Gaeilge Gan StróEnjoy Irish and Now You’re Talking.

Accessing the library

Since it opened, readers have been able to borrow books for up to a month. To access the library, simply ask a member of the centre’s staff. Keep using the Irish language and keep it alive in Liverpool!

“Leatsa an Teanga, léigh í agus labhair í”.

“It’s your Language, so read it and speak it!”.

Memorial Package

In 2022, Conradh na Gaeilge Learpholl, The Institute of Irish Studies (University of Liverpool), Oideas Gael (Donegal), Liverpool Irish Festival and  Liverpool Irish Centre, worked collaboratively to build a memorial package in Tony’s name. In doing so, we memorialsied our friend, teacher and lifelong supporter of the Irish Language. We’ll share details of the 2023 memorial package at a tribute to Tony on 21 Oct 2023.

A Hidden History: film

In  March 2021, the Festival worked with Tony to launch his book, A Hidden History: The Irish Language in Liverpool. We held an online event, which included a film (made with friend Greg Quiery) and Q&A. For anyone seeking a snapshot of Tony, this film illustrates his passion for Gaeilge.

Associated events (please note, these may have passed)

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