Ireland in Song and Story – A Concert with the Council of Irish Counties.

The Council of Irish Counties held a wonderful evening of song and story at the London Irish Centre on Friday 11th November. The night was full of music, recitations, short drama pieces, comedic compere’s and intergenerational performances.

The night was opened by Hackney School of Folk Music. HSOF is a local music school that teaches fiddle, tin whistle, guitar, cello, bodhran and song. They use the traditional method of learning by ear, (so no pesky bits of paper to get in the way!) and welcome students of all abilitles whoa re aged 8+. Their set included songs, solos and tune sets and went down a storm. The audience thoroughly enjoyed seeing and hearing the school perform, and the confidence and abilities of all the students was something really special to see. Congratulations to them all!


HSOF were joined at the end of their set by the Irish Pensioners’ Choir for a special intergenerational performance of Patrick Kavanagh’s ‘Raglan Road’. Seeing musicians of ages 8-90 perform together was a truly special experience. There are more planned collaborations between these two groups, so watch this space!

The Irish Pensioners Choir closed the first half with a set full of songs that celebrates the different counties in Ireland including ‘My Donegal’, ‘Cunla’, ‘Ill tell me ma’, and ‘Galway Bay’. The choir were in fine voice and had the crowd singing along and shouting for more!

Billy Faughnan and Tom Wheeler closed the night with renditions of Fields of Athen Rye as the flags of all the Irish counties for processed around the McNamara Hall, and the National Anthem.

Both the Hackney School of Folk and the Irish Pensioners Choir very much enjoyed being part of this wonderful evening. Thank you to the Council of Irish Counties for asking both groups to be part of it. We hope there will be more collaborations in the future.

Irish Elderly Advice Network AGM 2016

Firstly, a big thank you to everyone who came to our AGM on Friday 4th November. All of us here at IEAN very much appreciate your continued help and support, and your attendance at these events means a great deal to us.

It was a very successful and informative meeting, with over 70 people in attendance.

We began proceedings with a minutes silence to remember two men who we sadly lost this year, and who had been very valued and influential members of not only the Irish Elderly Advice Network but also to the wider Irish community – RIP John Courtney and Andy Higgins.


Following this several members of the Irish Elderly Advice Network trustee board read sections of the Proclamation and led the hall in a rendition of Kevin Barry. This was a really special addition to the AGM in this 1916/2016 centenary year. For some, this is the first time that they have read the entire proclamation or been part of such event. A short film was shown that was made in 2013 documenting the beginnings of IEAN and also featured singing by John Courtney, RIP.

Thank you to all who completed and commented on the monitoring questionnaires, your responses are vital in enabling us to continue to provide a relevant and supportive service, and in being able to offer the specific help and advice that you require. If you were not in attendance at the AGM and would like to complete the questionnaire please contact Kathy on / 020 7428 0471.

We hope that you all found the AGM as informative as we did, and that you feel you are up to date with all our work here at the Irish Elderly Advice Network and the Irish Elders Culture Office.

If you would like to see our current Annual Report or a more detailed Financial Report, please make an appointment with the Camden Office and we would be happy to share these with you.

For any advice, help or support, or for information on our Cultural Activities please contact the office on / 020 7428 0471.

Here’s to another successful year at the Irish Elderly Advice Network and Irish Elders Culture Office!


A Day and Evening in the Presence of President Michael D. Higgins.

As part of the 1916 celebrations and commemorations, President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina Higgins visited London this week to take part in a number of events.

Sally Mulready – Director of Irish Elderly Advice Network, and Alice Kennedy – Chairperson, both attended a reception at the Embassy of Ireland on Friday afternoon to launch the new book of selected lectures and speeches written and delivered by President Michael D. Higgins over his time in office. Both thoroughly enjoyed their afternoon in the company of the President, his wife and other dignitaries including Ambassador Dan Mulhall.


Friday evening, it was the turn of Sally and Kathy – Head of the Irish Elders Culture Office, to attend a lecture given by Michael D. Higgins at Congress House covering the life and work of Eva Gore-Booth.

img_5964The room was completely full with people waiting to hear the President speak of this influential woman from Irish History and Politics. Even the lighting was set to mimic the colours of the Irish flag. It was a fantastic atmosphere, truly fitting for such an event and speaker. The lecture lasted roughly 40 minutes and was, as ever, informative, insightful and incredibly well delivered.

A drinks reception followed where Kathy was lucky enough to meet Michael D. Higgins himself, and have a copy of his new book signed. Both Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina were incredibly open and welcoming and made the effort to speak to everyone in the room.

All agreed that this was a truly enjoyable and thoroughly interesting day, and we would like to extend our thanks to President Michael D. Higgins, his wife Sabina Higgins, Ambassador Mulhall and all at the Irish Embassy for allowing us to be part of these Historic events and celebrations.

You can read a transcript of the lecture on Eva Gore-Booth given by President Higgins here. transcript-of-eva-gore-booth-lecture-given-by-president-michael-d-higgins

Afternoon Tea and Networking at the ChariTable Bookings Launch


Are you heading out to dinner any time soon? Well…Why not book through ? (also available through the smartphone app)

Yesterday, Kathy and Alice attended the official launch of ChariTable Bookings at the Dorchester on Park Lane. They enjoyed some delicious tea and cake, mingled with other charities, restaurants and journalists, and learned more about the ChariTable idea and how it could benefit Irish Elderly Advice Network.

ChariTable Bookings is the brainchild of Lord Fink and David Johnstone, it is a restaurant booking platform that allows the individual making the booking to choose from thousands of restaurants and select a charity of their choice to support alongside their booking.

How it works:

  1. The individual selects their restaurant and selects a charity of their choice from the lists on the website (which includes us!) and makes the booking either online or by phone.
  2. For every person in the booking, the restaurant donates £1 to the chosen charity – this means no cost to the individual making the booking, or to the charity. So for a table of 4 people, we would receive £4 in donations.
  3. ChariTable Bookings collects the donations from the restaurants and pays them direct to the charity.

And as an extra bonus, during the month of October, if you book a table through ChariTable, even if you are planning to dine well into the future, each charity will get 50% extra per person – £1.50 instead of £1.

So if you are planning any meals out with friends, romantic nights out, Christmas parties, birthday parties, family outings…or any other reason to eat out, book through ChariTable Bookings, pick Irish Elderly Advice Network as your chosen charity, and help us to continue our work supporting the Elderly Irish community in the UK, and all at no extra cost to you!

We all really appreciate your continued help and support, and hope that you enjoy your meals out!


Incredible sell out evening at Park Theatre for the VIP performance of Nuns’ Chorus


Nuns’ Chorus is a community play that was written by our very own Sally Mulready. The play is set in Ireland in the 1950s. It follows a group of Carmelite nuns from an enclosed order as they are sent beyond the convent walls for the first time in many years. Their ‘enforced holiday’ to Galway Bay sees them explore the paths which led them to convent life, and to a deepening understanding of the meaning of their sisterhood. The play is a sensitive, honest, at times funny, at times deeply moving journey through a very challenging part of Ireland’s story. The play also includes Irish music, song and dance, and references to great Irish literature.

Under the inspired direction of Nora Mulready, the play has so far been performed 5 times to high acclaim and rave reviews, with many people returning to see the play for a 2nd and 3rd time! If you haven’t managed to catch a performance yet…Don’t Panic! There is still one chance left to see it. There will be one final performance at the Haringey Irish Centre on Thursday 21st July. See  for more information.

Last night we hosted a very special performance with a VIP Reception at the Park Theatre in Islington, London. The event was a sell out and we are very gratefull to his Excellency the Irish Ambassador to Great Britain Dan Mulhall and his wife Greta Mulhall for attending and for his very kind words following the performance. Also in attendance were members of the Irish Community, representative from various Irish organisations from around the UK, the Irish in Britain, the Ireland fund of Great Britain and the Irish Embassy in London.

We opened the show with a very special collaboration between Hackney School of Folk Music and the Irish Pensioners Choir. They performed a wonderful rendition of Patrick Kavanagh’s poem Raglan Road, with vocal solos from Clara McCaughey, one of the members of Hackney School of Folk, and Sally Mulready. The original arrangement composed especially for this collaboration also included soaring harmonies, and a an instrumental performed by all members of the Hackney School of Folk. Information about how to be involved with Hackney School of Folk Music can be found here:

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The theatre was filled with singing, laughter and tears throughout the following performance of Nuns’ Chorus. The actors gave their best performance yet, and they continue to grow in confidence on the stage and in their own abilities as actors, singers and performers. Thank you to everyone who has attended the performances so far, and to everyone who came along in support to the Park Theatre last night. Thank you to our funders, the Irish Emigrant Support Programme and the Ireland Fund of Great Britain, and to everyone who has helped to make this play and tour possible. Fr Clive Lee, Natasha Lohan, Jacqueline Hynes, Anita Faccenda, Billy Faughnan, and of course Sally Mulready and Nora Mulready.

Keep your eyes peeled for more opportunities to be involved in older Irish drama and other culture and arts based projects organised and curated by the Irish Elders Culture Office.



An amazing time was had by all on our trip to West Cork


Last week the Irish Elderly Advice Network took 32 older Irish emigrants on a once in a lifetime trip to West Cork. The trip was aimed at helping these older Irish people access their cultural and historical heritage as part of the centenary celebrations of the 1916 Easter Rising.

We were very warmly welcomed at Cork airport by Adrian, the airport manager, who plied us all with fresh tea and coffee before we headed of in the coach to Inchydonny beach. Our Coach driver Sean, who works for Galvin’s Coaches of Dunmanway, was fantastic, incredibly knowledgeable and really friendly. Thanks for a great trip Sean!

The weather was gorgeous (before the fog rolled in that is!), we managed to catch a few rays at the beach and enjoy an alfresco lunch on the patio of the Inchydonny beach hotel. What a perfect way to start the trip!

We were staying at the Quality Inn Hotel in Clonakilty, and we’d all like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the staff at the hotel for all of their help and support over our few days there. The rooms were excellent, the food was delicious, the facilities were brilliant, and the staff…well the staff were second to none! Nothing was too much trouble, and everything was done with a smile. Can’t recommend them enough!

The first night of our visit culminated in dinner at O’Donovan’s Hotel and Pub in Clonakilty town – we were even joined by the Mayor of Clonakilty (who it turns out is an excellent singer and partied the night away with us!) and the local Parish Priest. We were very proud to receive a bust of Michael Collins that had been specially engraved to mark our visit to Clonakilty. Our chairperson, Alice Kennedy, accepted this on behalf of the whole organisation. The food at O’Donovan’s was great and the staff were lovely, the whole atmosphere was buzzing with excitement about our next action packed few days. We followed on with some live music in O’Donovan’s Hotel bar, over at De Barra’s pub and then more music back at the Quality hotel. What a way to see in the trip!

The excitement was too much for the youngest member of the group!

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Wednesday was a truly special day as we embarked on a historical Michael Collins tour and show. Our tour leader, Tim Crowley and his wife Delores, were excellent and looked after us incredibly well. Their knowledge in regards to Michael Collins is truly staggering. We began with a more light-hearted presentation that included some witty anecdotes and songs, the baking of a cake on the open fire, and the chance to examine some of the historical artefacts kept at the centre, before enjoying a few minutes to take in the breathtaking scenery around the centre.

We heard stories of Michael Collins’ life, his family, and of course his campaigns and early death. Tim joined us on the coach and completed a tour of Michael Collins’ birthplace and where he was eventually shot. The whole experience was so informative and deeply moving. One of the older Irish women on the trip described it as a pilgrimage not just a historical outing. For many, being able to be present at these places was a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that they will never forget. It was a very personal way for them to connect to their own and their countries history and heritage. We would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to Tim and Delores for sharing their wealth of knowledge and for accommodating us so well.

Following on from the Michael Collins Tour was a trip to the local Clonakilty GAA grounds, a tea and coffee reception, and the chance to cheer on an under 12’s training match. The atmosphere was great and everyone made us feel very welcome – including the players. The GAA grounds were very impressive and I know that everyone had great fun cheering on the two teams!

Wednesday evening it was back to the Quality Hotel for dinner and more music in the hotel bar. We were privileged to be joined by former TD and Labour Government Minister Kathleen Lycnh. It was really appreciated by everyone on the trip that Kathleen spared some time to welcome us all to West Cork and to come along to talk to everyone. A big thank you to Kathleen for making us feel so welcome.

It was up and at ’em on Thursday morning for an action packed schedule. Our first port of call took us over the border to Killarney in Co. Kerry, for a visit to Muckross House. We were welcomed to this beautiful stately home, which was once owned by the Guinness family, by the Mayor of Killarney. The house is set in stunning surroundings on the banks of Lake Muckross. We took part in a guided tour of the house and had just enough time to take in the brooding scenery around the gardens and lake, and a quick cup of tea and a slice of cake before heading back to the coach for a spin through the Kerry mountains on our way to Skibbereen.


Next up on the agenda was a visit to the Skibbereen Famine Heritage Centre for a talk and a chance to dig deep into the history of this area, and the impact of the famine on the local people. Skibbereen and the surrounding areas were some of the worst affected by the famine and emigration at this time. This was a fascinating hour and it was incredibly humbling to see and hear about the struggles of the people of Skibbereen and West Cork an the lasting effect it has had on the area.

A brief tea and coffee stop in the West Cork Hotel preceded a dinner back at O’Donovan’s Hotel and Pub where we were joined and warmly welcomed by Jim Daly TD. Again the food could not be faulted and the staff were attentive and very helpful. It was then on to Shanley’s bar (owned by Philomena Shanley, Sally Mulready’s cousin) for more live music. We were even able to join in at this session – Our very own Michael Carolan and Maura Duckett each gave us a song, as did Jimmy Harrington – Sally Mulready’s cousin, who had very kindly given up his time during the week to travel with us and help us with lifts and logicstic – Thank You Jimmy! I even braved a little number myself. It was a fantastic day filled with gorgeous scenery, historical insights into Ireland’s rich history, good food and great music. What a way to finish our trip!

We were accompanied on the whole trip by a film crew – Declan and Bex, who have been collecting footage that will be used in a documentary film being made by the Irish Elderly Advice Network focussing on the cultural and historical legacy of 1916. We loved having them along and can’t wait to see the footage.

This trip was a long time in the planning, and we could not be happier with how it has gone. Everyone seems to have had a fantastic time, us included! We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came to greet us, a particular thank you to Galvin’s coaches and our lovely driver Sean, and to the Quality Hotel and Sinead for being so helpful and welcoming. Here’s to the next one!

Beautiful Intergenerational Collaboration between the Irish Pensioners Choir and Hackney School of Folk Music

On Thursday night the Irish Pensioners Choir took part in a gorgeous intergenerational collaboration with Hackney School of Folk Music. 70 people aged between 5-90 in one room, for a big musical extravaganza!

The evening saw the two groups rehearse and perform an arrangement of Raglan Road, which included an instrumental arranged for the different instruments, abilities and ages of the folk school students, solos from members of the Irish Pensioners Choir and Hackney School of Folk, and a special solo sung by Sally Mulready.

It was an intense hour and a half rehearsal, but everyone worked incredibly hard and it paid off when we were able to perform the full song, complete with instrumental, 3 part harmonies and solos at the end of the night.

The rehearsal and performance were filmed and will become part of the documentary film being made by the Irish Elderly Advice Network focussing on the cultural, historical and musical legacy of 1916. The main focus of the collaboration was to help illustrate how music is shared and passed on across generations and how Irish heritage can be celebrated at any age.

Here is a sneaky behind the scenes look at the collaboration. You will be able to see the whole film later this year including interviews with older, footage of older Irish drama and the Irish Elderly Advice Network trip to West Cork with 32 older Irish people amongst other things.