Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Our Fundraising

We at The Irish Cultural Centre have been reminiscing about all of the wonderful fundraising events and activities that our supporters undertook to fundraise for us! From jumping out of planes to busking around Ireland there are no limits to the creativity of our fundraisers! Starting with our Wear Your Heart for Irish Arts campaign to initially save the centre to now fundraising to complete the fit-out of our new purpose built centre, we are eternally grateful to all those who have helped and supported us; we couldn’t have done this without you!

Dara O’Briain and Friends
The lovely Dara O’Briain and Irish comedians Andrew Maxwell, Tommy Tiernan and Jason Byrne came together for night of laughs and great craic at The Palace Theatre in aid of The Irish Cultural Centre.

Backstage at ICC Fundraiser - Palace Theatre

Final chats with the lads on stage at the Palace

The night kicked off with traditional Irish music filling The Palace and then dance troupe Hammerstep; an eight member group that mix traditional Irish step with tap and hip hop; took to the stage with their captivating and energetic moves. 
Check out all the pics from the night, courtesy of Time in Focus Photography

Fundraising Gigs in aid of The ICC

Here at the ICC we have been very lucky to have been, and continue to be, supported by some of Ireland’s top traditional musicians and bands. Here is a selection of just some the groups that have helped us raise money:

Dervish have been firm supporters of us, having held two gigs to fundraise for the ICC. Hailing from Ireland’s County Sligo, Dervish plays a sparkling brand of traditional Irish music filled with a freshness that holds proud and fast to its time-honored roots. Fronted by one of the finest traditional singers in Ireland today, Dervish features Cathy Jordan’s crystalline voice soaring above an intricate interplay of accordion, flute and fiddle.
Dublin City Workingman’s Band
Dublin City Workingman’s Band played a benefit concert for the Irish Cultural Centre’s ‘Wear Your Heart for Irish Arts!’ campaign.
The band first got together in January 2003 when Ger (vocals/guitar), Ciarán (vocals/bodhrán) and Bob (vocals/guitar) met to sing a few ballads and have a few pints on a Monday night in the City of Dublin Workingmen’s Club on Wellington Quay. They were soon joined by J. Tingey on banjo and that summer started a Saturday night residency in the Chancery Inn. With a large repertoire of Irish ballads and their high energy delivery they soon became very busy on the Dublin tourist venue scene.
Danú kicked off their first UK tour in five years with a benefit for the Irish Cultural Centre’s ‘Wear Your Heart for Irish Arts’ campaign.
Danú is a traditional Irish band that was founded in 1995 by Benny McCarthy, Donnnchadh Gough, Donal Clancy and Daire Bracken. Now established as one of Ireland’s most important ensembles, Danú have gathered many awards and critical acclaim.
Eleanor McEvoy

To coincide with the release of her album Alone, McEvoy embarked on a 16 date tour of the UK and played a gig for the ICC as part of this tour.

One of Ireland’s most accomplished singer/songwriters, McEvoy’s life as a musician began at the age of four. To date, she has released albums on the Geffen and Columbia record labels and continues to tour the world over to her ever increasing legion of fans.

Mary Coughlin
The legendary Mary Coughlin performed for a rapt audience at Bush Hall in aid of the ICC.  Performing songs from throughout her career and interspersing these with amusing anecdotes she had the audience in the palm of her hand. 

Sponsored Skydive

Chris O'Connor enjoying the 'flight'! 

One staff member and two ICC supporters raised sponsorship to take on this death defying act…!

General Manager Kelly O’Connor and ICC supporters Olly Nash and Chris O’Connor threw caution to the wind (quite literally!) and jumped out of a plane at 12,000 feet!

Nerves were on edge and fingers were crossed for this brave trio as they conquered fear and raised money for The Irish Cultural Centre!

ICC GM Kelly O'Connor with Begley Bear

Smiles and fear as Olly Nash parachutes for the ICC!
Here ICC supporter Olly Nash tells of his skydiving experience...

 "Despite being a man born without a head for heights the idea of Skydiving had always intrigued me, you could say it had always been on my bucket list. Then along came the ICC, Kelly O'Connor and the momentary lapse in concentration that saw me strapped to another man, legs dangling out the side of light aircraft over the patchwork quilt that is the Kent countryside. We were the last jump of the day and managed to get down just as the sun was setting. From such a height the whole experience was quite surreal – one moment we're in the aeroplane the next it's sky, ground, sky, ground, before you level out and the camera man catches up – a few moments of my best grinning buffoon impression before the parachute deploys. With a few short and rather sharp jolts we're at a pedestrian cruising speed, the wind noise has gone and the view was second to none, Simply breath taking. We were at the tree tops before the fear returned, or rather, caught up! It's called ground rush, it's t he moment you're close enough to identify with the distance and speed and at that moment I panicked – I don't remember being told what to do when landing… We had of course be instructed and at the last moment with a little memory nudge from the back seat driver I remembered and we touched down and slid to a graceful halt like a football players celebratory knee slide. Only we landed in a field of sheep poop and not a premier pitch..."

The First Ever 10K ‘SESSION’ Around The Thames

The 10K Session was a day long walk/jog/run with traditional Irish music being played in a number of venues along the route plus a ceili dance!  Bucket collections were also held along the way in support of the event. The weather was perfect and the route just right. It was a lovely mix of warm and breezy, with beautiful scenery and some wonderful people. 

The music was great, and included a rare solo by Brendan Mulkere, world class violinist, and a joint tune by J Eoin and Mulkere. Paul Lane sang a heartfelt ballad at the Old Ship, and our volunteer Jack enchanted us with a unique and beautiful Irish tune at the Bulls Head. All of our Music Students were on top form, with guitars, fiddles, tin whistles and accordions filling the air! 

The 10K session raised over £1,600 in well needed funds, but far more importantly, it gave us traction with local and national press to get our story out there, and to showcase the dedication of all our users. 

We were delighted to have Spudsy at the front of our group, with his handmade Campaign Badge!

Bothar Dubh Buskers: Busking Around Ireland with a Keyboard


In Dublin's fair city with busking pal Phil Lynott!
Chris Moreton, a long time supporter of The Irish Cultural Centre, embarked on a two week stint travelling around Ireland with his cousin Matt Hussey busking to fundraise for the ICC. The lads travelled around the coast of Ireland armed with a keyboard, an accordion and a bucket busking in different cities and towns along their journey. From the busking they made €208, £5.27, $1 a silver button! Their Justgiving online sponsorship they made £417.68!

Getting a vibe going in Eyre Sq, Galway!

Fundraising Dinners

There have been a few great fundraisers held by our regular visitors and supporters. Our favourite to date is this one from The O’Reilly Family…

The O’Reilly Pop-up Restaurant

The O'Reilly family held  a series of lunches and dinners for friends as fundraisers for the centre. £10 per head covered the food costs, guests brought a bottle and the extrawent straight to the campaign. The ICC also provided The O’Reillys with merchandise that they could sell to their guests.



Sponsored Head Shave

Chilly times for Headshave PJ!

Our lovely long-time supporter PJ braved the razor blade and shaved his head to raise money for the ICC, raising over £300!


Longtime supporters Martin and Jackie both completed a number of Marathons in our name!

Jackie runs the Dublin Marathon for the ICC!
Martin Halvey gave us his take on the Longford Marathon! 

"The blow of the bugle and off we went,the music from the pipe band on Longfords main street gave us a rousing send off.A mile around the town before snaking out on to the Strokestown road,a straight run of about seven miles. Almost ideal conditions except for the stiff northwest wind,the bright sun dancing behind stray clouds. The previous day I had arrived from London,accompanied by a sweet,cuddly,green bear named Begley,helping to raise funds for the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith.

Begley is an energetic fundraiser,passivity does not enter into his lexicon,so it was decided he would be strapped on to my back,two suit ties running through his vest and around my shoulders,secured around my back.

Sunday was the first time we were to run together,so I didn't know what to expect. I hoped to run under three hours,but one never knows what is around the corner on such a long run. Begley,my old mate,was flopping and jumping all over my back, ties slipping from my shoulders,readjusting them as I ran. Eventually under gravity he settled in a comfortable position for both of us. Just crossed the Shannon near Termonbarry,the sun disappears behind a bulging black cloud.We're in for a hefty shower,and Begley when wet would put on weight to add to his seven and a half pounds. Luckily we only received a few light drops.

Just gone beyond eighteen miles,and under three hours is touch and go. Legs heavy now,Begley been quiet for the last few miles,please God his battery has run out. Flop,flop the feet hit the wet road,flop flop ever onwards,one step at a time don't think about the finish what's eight more miles just put your head down and think of ........it's a long long way from Clare to here..no not that one we're on the one road maybe the wrong road...nor that when the going gets tough the tough gets going....not bad...time and the hour runs through the roughest day..Newtown Forbes,twenty miles completed,six to go. On to the dual carriageway,still hill in front,traffic snarling past.

Twenty five miles down, one to go.I wonder what will be in the goody bag at the finish. A marshall tells me I have'nt far to go.Far enough I think to myself. I think I discovered my theory of relativity,something to do with energy and speed! Another marshall tells me as I enter the main street that I'm coming up to two hours and fifty eight minutes. A last burst up the hill to the finish under the digital clock,showing two hours fifty nine minutes and one second." - Martin Halvey

Raffles and Draws

We have also had many raffles and draws held by supporters of the ICC to help us fundraise.

A massive thank you to everyone out there who has supported us and helped us to fundraise for our new centre. We look forward to welcoming you to our new Irish Cultural Centre at the end of next year.

Go Raibh Míle Maith Agaibh a Chairde!

Friday, 14 November 2014

London Irish player Tomás O'Leary talks Rugby, Culture and all things Irish!

The ICC had the pleasure of catching up with London Irish player Tomás O'Leary this week!

London Irish player Tomás O'Leary
I understand you come from quite the sporty background in Ireland. Your dad played hurling for Cork and you yourself hurled too I believe?  

Yes my Dad hurled with Cork in the 1970s and 80s. He was part of the 3 in a row from 76-78 & won another All- Ireland in centenary year 1984. My Aunt Mary was an accomplished camogie player. Both my Dad & Mary won All-Stars during their careers. Hurling was & still is my passion. Growing up in a household steeped in GAA, my sole desire as a kid was to play hurling with Cork. I didn't quite achieve this but I did manage to captain the Cork minors to an All-Ireland in 2001. Still time for me to play senior though! Hope Jimmy Barry Murphy sees this!!

Do you still get the chance to practice your hurling?

Since I gave up at age 19 to pursue a career in rugby I haven't had much opportunity to practice. My training schedule is too hectic. I look forward to getting back onto a GAA pitch once I retire from professional rugby.

How is training going with London Irish?

Great. It's an exciting time in the history of London Irish. We are under new ownership & have recently moved into a state of the art training facility at Hazelwood. All our owners have strong Irish links and are keen to strenghten our role within Irish heritage & culture in London. On the pitch we have assembled a strong, tight knit squad and look forward to future success.

London Irish have kindly chosen The Irish Cultural Centre as one of their supported charities this season; how important is Irish culture to you?

Culture defines people. Culture illustrates who you are & where you have come from. As a nation us Irish are fiercely proud of our unique & diverse culture. We are renowned for our Music, Sport, Literature, Drama, Art. Our unique attitude towards life, our inquisitive nature & our love of 'the craic' has spread Irish influence all over the world. Irish emigrants look to our culture & traditions to keep us connected to our homeland.
The things I miss from home are inherently Irish.......family, friends, hurling, the Cork accent, having 6 cups of tea a day, my Mums cooking. You can't take everything abroad with you but you take as much as we can. I still have my Cork accent like. Our people's love for our identity is why our culture is so strong.

How important to you is a sense of 'Irishness'? Of keeping Irishness and Irish culture alive abroad?   

'Irishness' is undeniable. It is unique. Our traditions & customs, our culture will never cease to exist. Where there is Irish people or people of Irish heritage then there is 'Irishness'. Our people will keep Irish culture alive wherever they may be.

Do you get to go back to Ireland often?

Whenever I can depending on my training schedule & matches. Love getting back to Cork catching up with family & friends.

Have the Irish lads at the club introduced Irish culture to the other players who are not from an Irish background ? Do you organise ceilis or trad sessions for them?!  

We have showed them how to play hurling, taught them some Irish slang, the odd cuplá focal, introduced them to a few Irish artists. No ceilis. Would like to see a few of our Tongan & Samon players dancing though. Maybe something for the future!

Have you learned about other cultures and traditions from players at London Irish?   

 Absolutely. Throughout my career I have played with a multitude of nationalities. English, Scottish, Welsh, Samoan, Aussie, Tongan, Kiwi, South African, French, Canadian. Each culture brings its own customs & nuances but when in a rugby environment any barriers are quickly broken down.
Every culture is unique. We all have idiosyncrasies. 

The lads at London Irish get to grips with some musical education!
Recently the ICC filmed a video with some of the players from London Irish having a music lesson with Brendan Mulkere, the Head of our Music Academy; How was that experience? The lads seemed to enjoy it?! Did you ever play a musical instrument when you were growing up...or will you now?!   

 We had great fun with Brendan. I played tin whistle when I was younger. I'm gonna brush up on it now. A bit of work to do though before I'm ready to join in a Trad session.

The ICC will be fundraising by doing bucket collections at the Madejski Stadium for your match against Gloucester on Sunday 30th November; how do you think London Irish will fare against them?

If our fans donate a load of money to the ICC then I am extremely confident we will win. If not I fear for the result. Get out your airgead & support the ICC!

Tomás combining his training and music practice!
Thank you for chatting with us Tomas! We'll be cheering you on at our fundraising day at London Irish vs. Gloucester on 30th November!

Interview by Helen Bermingham for The Irish Cultural Centre


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Dervish in conversation - What to expect at Bush Hall this Sept!

We’re gearing up for Dervish’s Bush Hall intimate gig at the end of this month, and we wanted to catch up with the guys and see how they’re getting on! Our general manager Kelly O'Connor had the honour of doing just that this week with Cathy Jordan and Brian McDonagh. 

For Bush Hall tickets click here

Photo courtesy of BBC Radio 2 Folk Show: Cathy Jordan 

ICC: We tuned in to hear you on BBC Radio2 for Mark Radcliffe’s Folk Show this week and absolutely loved your session. You started off with a fast paced collection of reels, signalled with a bodhran count in, almost like a call to battle. One of the show’s callers said it kept him going on the treadmill! Do you usually kick things off with a fast paced track to get everyone moving from the start, or do you sometimes try to ease the audience in?

CJ: Not always, we usually try to tease the audience by starting with something more pensive and wind up the show to a frenzy. The Show is usually a journey through all the the different moods shades and emotions present in  music.  On the Mark Radcliffe show we had only three pieces to play so we decided to start with an explosion to get people’s attention and then the next piece was much slower to give contrast.

Dervish behind the scenes in Birmingham's mac
ICC: We’d love to have heard more of you guys. Did you feel you had more to talk about? For instance we wanted to hear more about Trad for Trocaire.

CJ: It was an honour to be asked to be part of the show, but as with all shows, time is limited so you try as much in as is possible, unfortunately you don’t always get the chance to talk about everything you might like to, but thats the way it goes.

ICC: Cathy, you gave an intro to one of your songs, telling of the tale of love lost and won. Do you find performing songs that tell these kinds of stories has a cathartic effect on you as you deal with life’s ups and downs?

CJ: I love singing the songs of our ancestors they travel down through the generations and I feel a connection with the past and with the people who sang them down the ages. There so much we can learn from them and the life’s and struggles of all those people.  Also one is reminded that when it comes to some of the subjects of love, loss and longing, nothing really has changed to the present day.

Brian McDonagh album cover for The Thrush in the Storm, and a glimpse in his studio

ICC: Brian, can you tell us a little about the cover for the new album?

BMD: Well, I’m not really an illustrator, I just paint for my own satisfaction and most of my work wouldn’t really be suitable for a cd cover. But when we were preparing the material for the CD I was struck by the name of one of the tunes and it sent me on a path towards an image that I felt might work as a cover. I felt that the Thrush singing its heart out in the midst of a storm was a good metaphor for Ireland and its recent travails. Once I had the basic concept in my mind it was really just a case of getting the feeling right.

ICC: Brian, on your website (http://www.mcsligo.com/) you have photos of your studio, which looks like its somewhere you spend a lot of time. Do you find it hard to leave the studio, and your own space when you go on tour?

BMD: I spend as much time as I can there, but I am fantastic at coming up with excuses not to go there. I find painting very difficult and quite terrifying! I’m always surprised when I manage to create something worth looking at. Touring is a very different experience and it’s interesting how the two aspects of my life fit together. I always use any free time we have while on tour to visit galleries and learn from other artists.

ICC: After 25 years, has being on tour together gotten easier?

Photo courtesy of Joanne Davidson: 
Dervish played Glastonbury's Avalonia Stage this year
CJ: Absolutely, the older you get the more you get to appreciate how lucky we are to be able to travel the world and have wonderful experiences through the music which has been handed down to us by our ancestors. We get to play and nurture it while we’re here but it will, I have no doubt be around for many generations to come.

ICC: You played Glastonbury’s Avalon Stage this year. Did you stay for the whole weekend? We heard some of you ‘embraced’ the mud! Did you get to enjoy any of the other acts?

CJ: Yes got to see Dolly Parton, who I’ve been a fan of for years. She is an absolute inspiration at nearly 70 years of age and still as amazing as ever. Also saw Gold Frapp, Metalica, Massive Attack, Clannad, The Henry Girls and of course my personal favorite Suzanne Vega.

ICC: The gig you’re playing at Bush Hall is a fundraiser for the ICC. Do you have any thoughts about the ICC’s new venue, and what they’re trying to achieve with this modern performance space for Irish Arts in London?

CJ: I think its brilliant that {there will soon be} a new venue for the ICC in London, this is very positive for all the Irish in London to keep in touch with all things Irish while abroad. It’s important from a community point of view as well as been educational.

I wish it all the very best and can’t wait to play there. 

Dervish will play Bush Music Hall, West London on Sunday 28th September, 2014

ICC: You’re off to the States in the New Year and playing the Community Arts Centre in Williamsport on St. Patrick’s Day. Do you find you get an even more Irish welcome when you play abroad on the big day?

CJ: There’s so may Irish all over the world now, that it doesn’t really matter where you are in the world, everyone wants to be Irish, even if they’ve never been there. The USA is incredible on St Patricks Day, its like green Christmas and everybody embraces it.

ICC: And finally, can you tell us what to expect at Bush Hall on the 28th?

CJ: Well we’re really looking forward to playing in the the Bush hall and seeing all our old friends, and we promise a great night of great tunes, songs and banter, and after 25 years on the road we’ve finally mastered the craft!!

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, best of luck with the upcoming dates and we'll see you on the 28th! 

For more info about Dervish visit their website 

For tickets for Dervish's upcoming intimate gig in London, the last chance to see them before their tour of the USA, click here

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Until Next Time, London

We asked our CAPA intern Lauren to summarise her placement with us here in London. Lauren came to us for a short placement via CAPA International Education and is a third year Business and Marketing student from Brown's University, Ohio. She has been a valuable asset to the ICC team over the last 2 months, and she'll be sorely missed! 

Here's what she had to say about London...

I cannot think of a better place for me to have spent my time studying abroad than right here in London. There is so much to see that, even after six and a half weeks, I don’t feel like I have seen enough of the city to leave it. I did a lot of touristy things like touring Kensington Palace, going to the London Aquarium, Harrods, Madame Tussauds, riding the London Eye, and going on an open-top, double decker bus tour, just to name a few. I also did two day trips, one was to Stonehenge and Bath and the other was Kenilworth Castle and Stratford-Upon-Avon. Most of my tourist-like activities were done on weekends, it was a joke with my friends that we were Londoners by week, tourist by weekend.
Jamie and Lauren, Kenilworth Castle
Before I left for London, I had heard that the tube was really difficult to navigate and that I needed to be prepared to get lost a lot. That was so opposite from the experience I had navigating the tube. I found it pretty easy; it only took me a day or two to get the hang of it. I can only think of one time where I got on the wrong train, but it wasn’t hard to get back on track. The busses were pretty easy, too. I preferred to take the bus because I got to see the city more, but I never really had time to wait on them. If I took the bus, it was at night when I wouldn’t take the tube alone.

During my time in London, I was living in Camden Town. I found the area really interesting, but I definitely did not fit in all of the time. One of my first nights here, I walked around the Camden area with my roommates. After we walked around, we went to the pub next to our flat; we turned around and walked right back out. Everyone else in the pub was dressed in dark colors, then we walk in with our bright colors, and everyone turned and stared at us. It was really clear that we did not belong in that pub, but we did find some we liked.

Something that probably won’t be too shocking to hear from an American is: I love the Royal Family. When I found out that the Trooping the Colour parade was going on while I was here, I got so excited! The parade was really cool to experience. I enjoy bands, so seeing all of the guards playing was really awesome. But the best part was definitely the Royal Family rolling passed me. They went so fast that my pictures were blurry, but when they went back to Buckingham I made sure I took videos. The size of the crowd was insane, which I expected, but I didn’t realize just how many people were there until I went to see the Royal Family on the balcony. I loved how open everything about the parade was; all of their carriages were open-top and the guards were only lining the street. That would never happen in the States. In the States, there would’ve been guards in the closed-top cars and surrounding them.

Another really unique experience I got was to go to Wimbledon. I’ll admit it, I had never watched a tennis match before, but it was Wimbledon, going sounded fun. When I had to get up at 3AM, fun was not the word I had in mind though. Once we got to the queue, the day went so fast! Having lunch at 10AM was strange, it seemed way too early, it really wasn’t for how long we had been up, it just felt strange eating lunch when I normally eat breakfast. I ended up getting tickets to court two with a couple of my friends. We saw Simona Halep v. Lesia Tsurenko and Lleyton Hewitt v. Jerzy Janowicz. It was Lleyton’s last match, so that was really cool to get to see, it was a really good match too! We did not stay for the third match on court two, but I did enjoy the matches we did see.

Lauren and Nicole, Wimbledon
But I did say that I was a Londoner during the week, and that’s where the Irish Cultural Centre comes in. My internship here has been such a wonderful experience, I’m really sad that it’s over. This was my first internship and I could not have asked for a better placement. Kelly gave me the opportunity to do so much, like making flyers and surveys, writing blogs and even creating contests, that I was able to learn more than I ever imagined. I was able to sit in on a couple of Kelly’s meetings and that was so interesting to see. I have meetings on campus all of the time for clubs and such, but these were totally different, they were actually really professional and I thought it was so cool to see how people who have been planning events for years work and brainstorm.

One of the highlights of the internship was the Hammersmith and Fulham ArtsFest. It was really cool to see how all of the organizations worked together to pull off such a festival, especially for the first year of it. That week really taught me a lot as far as how to work with a co-sponsor and what to do when there are multiple miscommunications surrounding one event. I wished I could have hit more events than just the ones we were putting on, but with class and other things it just didn’t happen.

Another really cool thing I got to experience was the Tea Dance. Everyone looked like they were having so much fun dancing and socializing, it is definitely something I could see me and my friends attending! I thought it was funny how about ten minutes before the tea and coffee was to be served people started to line up for it and ask if it was time yet. It was just an all around cute event.

Tea Dance
In the six weeks I was here, I heard so much about this new building. I’ve seen the designs and layouts and I know a lot about how awesome it is going to be. My only problem with the new building is that I won’t be here when it opens! It makes me so sad that I’ll be missing the grand reopening of the ICC, but I am really looking forward to seeing all of the pictures of it when it gets finished.
My six weeks flew by. I knew when the program started it would pass like the blink of an eye, but I think there was a small piece of me that wanted to believe it would seem longer. I have had the chance to meet so many lovely people, especially ones who work with the ICC. I know I am extremely lucky to have had this opportunity to study, work, and explore London and I am far from ready for this experience to be over. But, that time has come and I plan on spending my last couple of days finishing off my "London Bucket List." I love it here and I cannot wait for the day I get the chance to come back.

Written By: Lauren Kithas