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Irish heart, Coventry home

A new exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery

Six Nations and ‘Irish Heart, Coventry Home’ exhibition.

A new exhibition is set to tell the true experience of Irish families settling in Coventry over three decades from their point of view.

‘Irish Heart, Coventry Home’ will be held at the Herbert Art Gallery for one month from Friday 9th March when the exhibition launches at 8pm, after 12 months of research from the Coventry Irish Society. This evening event is open to the public and will include well-known Irish musicians, actors, activities and storytelling in the medieval undercroft.

65 people who moved to the city from Ireland between 1940 and 1970 will feature in a 30 minute documentary put together by the society, who spent hundreds of hours with interviewees to understand their journey to Coventry.

It will also see a diverse collection of photographs and personal items which will go up on display to form what should be an enlightening and entertaining exhibition.

The exhibition’s organisers and its interviewees will be able to share their stories further after being invited by the Ricoh Arena to watch their fellow Irish men and women compete against England in a Six Nations double-header at the Ricoh Arena on Friday, 16th March.

England Women take on Ireland Women at 5.30pm, before England Under 20s play Ireland Under 20s at 8pm.

The ‘Irish Heart, Coventry Home’ project has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as Cork City Council, the Deeley Group and Coventry City Council with a four strong steering group helping bring the exhibition together alongside Project Officer Ciaran Davis.

Simon McCarthy, Manager of the Coventry Irish Society, said: “We are incredibly excited to be able to tell the fascinating story of so many people who have contributed massively to the culture, infrastructure and history of Coventry after moving from Ireland.

“The most successful element of the project has been the breadth of our interviewees.

“We have spoken to a wide variety of people including poets, builders, teachers, musicians and more.

“Furthermore, we are pleased to have involved so many female interviewees.

“Women are sometimes left out of narratives of Irish migration, even though they came to England in significant numbers.”

Francis Ranford, Cultural and Creative Director at Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, said “We are passionate about showing exhibitions which reflect the vibrant and diverse history of Coventry. This display is an honest representation of the experiences of Irish families settling in the city and how the community has been instrumental in shaping the Coventry we know today and we are delighted to have the exhibition on display this spring.”

Nick Eastwood, Chief Executive at the Ricoh Arena, added: “There is a strong Irish contingent within Coventry and Warwickshire, and when we heard about the exhibition’s aim to unearth the role that the Irish community has played in the development of the city, we were keen to show our support by inviting the contributors to watch their country play not once, but twice at the Ricoh Arena.

“The exhibition will be well underway by the time the Six Nations comes to the city, and we hope it will provide a great opportunity for the group to spread the word amongst their fellow Irish supporters.”

Tickets for the Six Nations double-header between England and Ireland at the Ricoh Arena start from £10 for adults, and can be purchased from www.eticketing.co.uk/ricoharena For more information about the Irish Heart, Coventry Home exhibition visit www.ohs.org.uk/irish-heart-coventry-home For more information about the Coventry Irish Society visit www.facebook.com/coventry.irish or www.coventryirishsociety.co.uk