Breaking Ground: The Story of the London Irish Women’s Centre


Photo by Alan Denney from his highly recommended Flickr site.

London Irish Women’s Centre was at 59 Stoke Newington Church St from the early eighties until 2012.

“Breaking Ground” is a film about the history of the centre, which is being shown on 24th of November as part of the Irish Film Festival London. The bad news is that it’s happening on the other side of town, at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith! More info and ticket details here.

Trailer and blurb:

This unique documentary presents a new chapter in the history of Diasporas in the UK. Made by an all women crew it tells the fascinating story about the rise and fall of the London Irish Women’s Centre, a radical organisation based in North London from 1983 – 2012. Featuring unique archive material, the documentary intercuts eighteen different interviews with women involved in the organisation over its rich twenty-nine year history. The London Irish Women’s Centre was founded to provide an alternative cultural and political space for women to be Irish, supporting and representing all women in London who identified themselves as Irish, regardless of politics, religion, colour or class.

The film charts the centre’s activities, from its political and social campaigning to its provision of desperately needed services for Irish women in London. Throughout the 80s Irish women arrived in their droves and towards the end of the decade they made up 10% of the capital’s female population. Many of these women were not simply economic migrants but women in search of an alternative life, away from the repressive predominately Catholic culture of Ireland. Their optimism for a new life was tempered by the reality of life in London. Irish women were among the most disadvantaged ethnic and gender groups in terms of housing and employment. From the organisation of the first Irish Women’s conferences in the UK, to the support of research on Irish women and housing and employment, the London Irish Women’s Centre’s work impacted on the culture and politics of London. The organisation openly discussed and made public, issues pertinent to both women in Ireland and Irish women in London against a backdrop of anti-Irish racism from within the UK and at best indifference from the mainstream Irish community in London.

5 thoughts on “Breaking Ground: The Story of the London Irish Women’s Centre

  1. Pingback: “Breaking Ground” showing at The Rio, 23rd Feb | The Radical History of Hackney

  2. Pingback: Caribbean House, Hoxton 1976-1988 | The Radical History of Hackney

  3. Pingback: “Breaking Ground” film about London Irish Women’s Centre – now online | The Radical History of Hackney

  4. Pingback: Hackney Women’s Centre and Matrix Feminist Architects | The Radical History of Hackney

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