New Irish Writing series

Five Leaves Bookshop presents a short series of online events focusing on new Irish writing.
Thanks to Arts Council England for funding, which enables these events to be BSL interpreted.

  1. Thurs 17 June 7-8pm
    Galway Stories
in association with Doire Press, a leading Irish publisher
Galway Stories will feature readings by June Caldwell and Alan McMonagle.
Event host: Deirdre O’Byrne

More information & booking info: Events | Five Leaves Bookshop
New Irish Writing 1: Galway Stories Tickets, Thu 17 Jun 2021 at 19:00 | Eventbrite

2) Friday 25th June 7-8pm
Thin Places by Kerri ní Dochartaigh

Kerri ní Dochartaigh will read from and discuss her new book, Thin Places
This event is hosted by Patrick Limb, trustee of Nottingham City of Literature.
Information and booking:
New Irish Writing: Thin Places, with Kerri ní Dochartaigh – Five Leaves Bookshop
New Irish Writing 2: Kerri ní Dochartaigh Tickets, Fri 25 Jun 2021 at 19:00 | Eventbrite

3) Wednesday 21 July 7-8pm
Belfast Stories

Featuring readings by Rosemary Jenkinson and Michael Nolan
in association with Doire Press.

Event host: Deirdre O’Byrne

More info:
New Irish Writing: Belfast Stories, with Rosemary Jenkinson and Michael Nolan – Five Leaves Bookshop

Booking: New Irish Writing: Belfast Stories, with Rosemary Jenkinson & Michael Nolan Tickets, Wed 21 Jul 2021 at 19:00 | Eventbrite

All welcome / Fáilte

Irish History and Story

A short series of four talks hosted by Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham.
There’s an enduring connection between Irish writers and the history and politics of Ireland. In this short course, we explore those links, focusing on four key periods. Dr Patrick Murphy gives a short account of the historical and political background, and Dr Deirdre O’Byrne talks briefly on some literary representations of the chosen period. Each session ends with a Q & A session.

All sessions are now available to listen to online, on Five Leaves Bookshop YouTube channel.

All sessions are free, although you may wish to make a donation to Emmanuel House, which helps homeless people in Nottingham.
Find out more about Five Leaves Bookshop events on their website


i) Let Them Eat . . . Babies? Famine in Ireland
Jonathan Swift wrote about the dire condition of Irish peasants in ‘A Modest Proposal’ in 1729. His satire was popular, but did not alleviate poverty in Ireland, as the poetry of the Great Hunger of the 1840s makes clear.
Follow the link to listen free via Five Leaves Bookshop channel on YouTube.


ii) Listen on YouTube via this link:
From ‘the uncrowned King of Ireland’ to Queen of the Fairies

After the fall of Charles Stewart Parnell, many Irish people turned to ancient Irish mythology and older traditions in a morale-boosting movement that became known as the Celtic Twilight, the Irish Renaissance, or the Irish Literary Revival. The writers held several different political viewpoints, from WB Yeats and Katharine Tynan to JM Synge and Pádraig Pearse. James Joyce also comments on the period in his writings.


iii) Listen on YouTube via this link:

Birth of the Nation: Easter 1916, the War of Independence, and Civil War.
Easter 1916 was known as the Poets’ Rising, so many of its leaders were writers. The conflicts arising from the birth of the Irish nation were immortalised in the plays of Seán Ó Casey, short stories of Frank O’Connor and prose and poetry of their contemporaries.


iv) Listen on YouTube via this link:
From Rocking the Cradle to Rocking the System: Radical Sexual Politics
The 1980s in Ireland saw several amendments to the Irish Constitution which affected women’s rights, alongside high-profile events such as the Kerry Babies Tribunal and the death of Ann Lovett. In the 21st century, Ireland has radically changed, with its population voting for rights to abortion, divorce, and same-sex marriage. A brief look at the changing social scene is followed by a discussion of how it has been represented in literature.

Five Leaves Bookshop has supported our group in many valuable ways, including by hosting this series. They have an online website. Order your Irish books (and other books) from independent bookshops. They are a vital resource in supporting community groups, including the Irish diaspora in Britain.
Many thanks to Ross Bradshaw, proprietor of Five Leaves Bookshop, for the initial invitation to run this course, and to colleagues Pippa Hennessy and Simon Griffiths, for invaluable technical support.

Online course: Irish History

Dr Patrick Murphy delivers a 6-part online course in Irish History for University of Liverpool Continuing Education, Tues 13 October 2020 – Tues 23 March 2021. All sessions run 7-9pm.

Irish Freedom: From Home Rule to Free State. Six online lectures to mark the centenary of Ireland’s independence

Host: University of Liverpool Continuing Education

Ireland is marking the 100th anniversary of Irish independence by a ‘Decade of Centenaries’ from 1913 to 1923. At the beginning of this decade there was overwhelming support for Home Rule – Irish self-government within the United Kingdom – but very little for a republic. Yet within  a few years there was a complete transformation which led to Ireland’s break with the UK. These six lectures and discussions will explain why this happened and why it has had such profound consequences, not only for Ireland but also for the United Kingdom.

  1. Tuesday 13 October 2020 7 -9pm

The Undoing of Irish Constitutional Nationalism:  The Home Rule Crisis and the Great War – 1914-1916.

2) Tuesday 3 November 2020 7-9pm

‘All changed, changed utterly’: The Easter Rising  and the Triumph of Defeat

3) Tuesday 1 December 7-9pm

‘The Banner that Flies Nearest the Sky’: The Irish Republic and the Death of Home Rule – 1916-1918.

4) Tuesday 2 February 2021 7-9 pm

‘The Freedom to Achieve Freedom’: The War of Independence and the Anglo-Irish Treaty – 1919—1921

5) Tuesday 2 March 2021 7-9pm

The Unfinished Revolution: Civil War, the Eclipse of Social Radicalism and the Irish Free State – 1922-1924

6) Tuesday 23 March 2021 7-9pm

‘A Temporary Exclusion’: Partition, Sectarianism and the Northern Ireland State.,

Sláinte = health. Safe home / Slán abhaile.

Beannachtaí na Cásca oraibh, a chairde.
(Say: bann-okh-thee nah caw-skah ur-iv, ah khaw-ir-deh)

Easter greetings, friends.

Go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo arís.

(Say: Guh merr-imm-eed be-yoe err on owm shoh arr-eesh)
That we may be living at this same time again – ie, this time next year.

Téigí slán / Go safely.

(Say: thay-agh-ee slawn)

Sláinte – the customary Irish salutation when raising a glass – means health, and is, of course, a wish for Good Health.
The Irish for goodbye is Slán
(say: slawn).
A longer way of saying farewell is Slán abhaile
(say: slawn ah-wal-ya).
This directly translates as Safe Home: a parting wish still said by many Irish people when friends and relatives are setting out on the road after a visit.

Irish in Britain Archives

We are collecting newspaper cuttings, brochures and other material relating to the activities of the Irish community in Nottingham, to donate to the Irish in Britain Archives in London Metropolitan University. It is important to acknowledge and record the contribution made by our very active Nottingham community. If you have any brochures or related material, please get in touch. You do not have to part with the originals if you don’t want to: we can scan or photocopy them for the archives.
If you would like to view some of the material collected so far, have a look at the Facebook page for Nottingham St Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade.

Film News


Nottingham screening of Unquiet Graves + Q&A

Canalhouse Bar, 48-52 Canal Street, NG1 7EH
Monday 4th March 7.30 – 9.30pm.
Tickets: £6 (+£1 booking fee) here
This event was not organised by our group, but we will join in welcoming award-winning director Seán Murray to Nottingham for a screening of his remarkable new film uncovering Britain’s secret war in Ireland. It examines collusion between the security forces and known sectarian murderers involved in the assassinations of over 120 farmers, shopkeepers, publicans and other innocent civilians. Now known as the Glenanne Gang, the killers rampaged through counties Tyrone and Armagh and across into the Irish Republic in a campaign that lasted from 1972 to 1978. The film offers an appreciation of these tragic events from the perspective of the bereaved families, and is narrated by actor Stephen Rea.

Directly after the film there will be a Q&A with director Seán Murray

Watch the trailer here:

“Outstanding documentary film-making combining in-depth research and personal testimony to expose the undeniable truth of state collusion and its fatal consequences”
Professor Phil Scraton, author of Hillsborough: The Truth

Unquiet Graves offered a gritting, enraging examination of the state collusion that accommodated (and sometimes actively drove) the murderous actions of the so-called Glenanne Gang. Vital, angry stuff.”
The Irish Times


Fri 5th Oct, the Irish film Jimmy’s Hall (dir. Ken Loach, 2014) was shown at Espresso Café and Gallery. Deirdre O’Byrne of Nottingham Irish Studies Group gave a brief introduction to the social and political background of the film, which is set in 1930s Ireland. Jimmy Gralton sets up a community hall in Co Leitrim, and runs into trouble with the controlling authority of the church.
The screening was followed by a Q&A discussion.
Venue: Espresso Café and Gallery, 568 Woodborough Road, Nottingham NG3 5FH

August – October 2018

Activities from last year:

In 2018, NISG ran a short series of Irish Studies talks, all at Five Leaves Bookshop

Tues 11 Sept 2018: Professor James Moran (University of Nottingham)
The Easter Rising – some connections to the English Midlands

Tues 18 Sept: Dr Chrissie Van Mierlo (Erewash Museum)
The Mixed Vocations of Irish novelist (Fr.) Gerald O’Donovan (1871–1942)

Tues 25 Sept: Dr Sinéad Mooney (De Montfort University)
An Introduction to Anne Enright, focusing on The Gathering (Man Booker Prize winner 2007).

Wed 31st October 2018: Halloween and Irish Culture
Five Leaves Bookshop  7pm – 8.30pm
Halloween in Ireland is celebrated by traditional games which have their roots in pagan rituals. Dr Deirdre O’Byrne of Loughborough University will lead a discussion of the feast’s place in Irish heritage, including a look at how Halloween is featured by writers such as James Joyce and Edna O’Brien. Halloween costume is encouraged (though not obligatory).
Discover why we duck for apples, eat barm brack hoping to find a ring, and play games like Five Saucers. 
inc refreshments. All welcome.

Venue:  Five Leaves Bookshop, 2018 winner of British Book Awards Independent Bookshop of the Year.
The shop is down the alley opposite the Tourist Info Centre, off Market Square.
14a Long Row, Nottingham NG1 2DH.
Time: 7pm – 8.30pm
Admission: £3 including refreshments.
Please let us know you are coming by emailing:

More info:

Our summer included a return visit to Crawley Irish Festival, to tell old Irish tales. It’s a grand family day out. The festival was on Sunday 26 August 2018, 12 noon til about 6pm. Despite the wet weather, the welcome inside The Hawth was warm and friendly, and we had a keen audience for the old legends.
On Saturday 29 Sept, we participated in Inspire Poetry Festival by being part of the warm-up act for Maura Dooley’s Translations event at Beeston Library.
We read ‘Mise Raifteirí’, an old Irish poem, and the contemporary ‘Ceist na Teangan’ by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. It felt particularly good to read in front of Maura Dooley, whose parents are Irish, and has written some wonderful poems of the Irish diaspora.

Bloomsday 2018

Thurs 14 June: Pre-Bloomsday readings at Five Leaves Bookshop.
7pm – 8.30pm. £3, including refreshments.
Free if you dress in Edwardian costume (as readers will). 
Live Irish music from Ruadh Duggan of Nottingham Comhaltas.
Brian McCormack and Deirdre O’Byrne read some extracts from the works of James Joyce, in honour of Bloomsday, 16 June 1094, the day on which he set Ulysses, his most famous work. Joyce chose that date to commemorate the date of his first romantic assignment with his life partner, Nora Barnacle.

Here’s a link to an excellent audio recording of Ulysses, complete, by Radio Telefís Éireann (RTÉ). Treat yourself – Joyce’s words are a joy to listen to.

Sat 16 June: Happy Bloomsday!
Some NISG members journeyed to Northampton for a short play, Letters to Lucia, written by Richard Rose and James Vollmar. It was performed outdoors at 2.30pm, at Kingsthorpe Cemetery, Northampton, where Lucia, daughter of James Joyce, is buried.

This was a Triskellion Theatre Company production.
Deirdre O’Byrne (of Notts Irish Studies Group) played the part of Nora Barnacle Joyce, the writer’s lifetime partner.
The performance had an enthusiastic audience, including Irish Embassy 
First Secretary (Irish Community & Cultural) Mr Ruaidhri Dowling.

Sat 30 June: Recent Irish writing, Lowdham Book Festival
As is now traditional, the famous Lowdham Last Saturday was free all day. Deirdre O’Byrne of Loughborough University presented a talk on the new Irish writers: focusing mostly on the women, including Sally Rooney, Sara Baume, Louise O’Neill, and Eimear McBride, who have made a stir on the 21st-century literary scene.