Anne Enright in Loughborough

Acclaimed Irish author Anne Enright is coming to Loughborough University on 30 October. This is a free event, but you need to book in advance via this link. The discussion will focus on Enright’s novel The Gathering, which won the Booker Prize in 2007.

Hear Enright in interview here.

This is part of The Big Booker Read, organised by Dr Clare Hutton, English and Drama Department, Loughborough University.

The Big Booker Read – Free Novel Giveaway

A new scheme – in partnership with leading literary award The Booker Prize – offers all 1st year Loughborough University students a FREE copy of Anne Enright’s The Gathering, plus the opportunity to meet the author on campus at the end of October.

Autumn news

Forthcoming Irish activities in Nottingham and East Midlands

Sunday 22 September: Irish poems about health and wellbeing.

Discussion led by Deirdre O’Byrne of Nottingham Irish Studies Group.
12 – 1pm, Southwell Workhouse NG25 0PT
Free session, but usual admission rates apply to the Workhouse.
This is part of Workhouse Poetry Festival 2019.

Saturday 28 September
Irish poet Colette Bryce will read with Nafeesa Hamid at West Bridgford Library, as part of Inspire Poetry Festival
7.30 – 9.30pm, £10

Thursday 3 October
There’s an Irish segment included in the next Sockful of Porridge event, @ The Barley Twist pub on Carrington Street – storyteller Deirdre will tell an old Irish tale or two.
This gig is in aid of charity, raising funds for the Woodland Trust

Tuesday 15 October
Roddy Doyle in conversation with Jon McGregor (University of Nottingham)
Roddy Doyle, from Dublin, has won the Booker and several other awards for his writing.
Peggy’s Skylight, 3 George Street, Nottingham, NG1 3BH.
£7, interview only.
Stage event 8pm.
Seated dining from 6pm (see ticket + food deal £15)
Check here for further details.

Monday 4 November
Nottingham Irish Centre 7.30pm

The Commitments, based on Roddy Doyle’s novel and directed by Alan Parker, is one of the most popular and successful Irish-themed films of the last thirty years and has achieved cult status. Nominated for an Academy Award, it tells the story of a group of young working-class Dubliners who try to break into the music business by forming a band, The Commitments.

 ” The Commitments is one of the most immersive, delightful, feelgood movies of all time.” Angela Clarke
Nottingham Irish Centre is a registered charity

8 and 9 November:

‘Feargus the Musical’, celebrating the life and times of Feargus O’Connor, Corkman, Chartist, and MP for Nottingham, is coming to Nottingham Arts Theatre, 8 & 9 November. See link for details.

Rebels and Friends

Coming to Nonsuch Theatre Nottingham on Tuesday 12 November 2019:

Rebels and Friends: A play about Constance Markievicz and Eva Gore-Booth
by Jacqueline Mulhallen, produced by Lynx Theatre and Poetry.
Con was a leader of the Easter Rising, the first woman elected
to the British Parliament, and Labour Minister in the Irish Dáil.
Her sister Eva was a pacifist and campaigner for women’s rights
and peace.
More information here.

Event organised by Stewart Halforty.

Walks, Books, & other stories

Monday 16 September
A Walk Through Ireland’s History
The Irish Centre hosted a talk by Mike Pinnock, author of Walk East Until I Die, detailing his walk across Ireland. 7pm. £3
More information about Mike here.

Thursday 27th June, 7pm in Five Leaves Bookshop, the open book group is discussing Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín. If you have read the book, come along and join us.

On Saturday 29th June, as part of Lowdham Book Festival, there will be a talk by Deirdre O’Byrne on ‘Troubles’ fiction. After the success of Anna Burns’ Milkman, we will discuss how other novelists have depicted the war years in the North of Ireland. All welcome. 

Find us in the marquee behind Lowdham Village Hall, 3.30 – 4.30pm. 

Free events all day, for Lowdham Last Saturday. Details:

2nd-Generation Irish in Britain – book launch

I Wouldn’t Start from Here: the Second Generation Irish in Britain

Editors Ray French, Moy McCrory and Kath McKay will be reading from their book of essays, fiction and poetry by second generation Irish writers in Britain , whose contributors attempt to capture the diverse experience of a group of people largely rendered invisible.

The sections touch upon what it is to be authentic, what’s new about the experience of ‘diaspora’, what evolves and what changes. Many of the contributors acknowledge that anti-Irish racism has been part of their lives and the work reflects the tensions of not belonging but of ploughing on.

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, 14a Long Row, Nottingham NG1 2DH
7pm. £3 inc refreshments. All welcome – Fáilte

Irish storytelling for schools

We are busy working with local schoolchildren in preparation for St Patrick’s Day Parade. Thanks to St Patrick’s Day Parade Committee’s funding — all raised by volunteers — , we provide a storyteller and artist to help the children make props for the parade.
This year’s theme story is the tale of Patrick himself:  how he was captured by pirates and brought to Ireland. He was sold as a slave and worked on Sliabh Mish. More about Patrick’s story here.
Follow this link to our Story of Patrick poem  written specially for this year’s workshops.

You might even spot us on BBC East Midlands today.

Watch out for the children in the parade on Sunday 17th March. (The parade sets off around 12.00 from Hockley to Market Square.) Give them a cheer when you see them. They have worked hard on making costumes, props and banners.

Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade!


If your school would like an Irish story and craft session, get in touch. We tell traditional Irish tales. We can provide extension literacy handouts and colouring pages if needed.



Irish Cursing: A Magical History, with Thomas Waters

Five Leaves Bookshop, 14a Long Row, Nottingham NG1 2DH
Wednesday 13 March 7pm – 8.30pm
£3 inc refreshments.
Email bookshop to book a place:

Historian Thomas Waters explores the weird world of Irish maledictions and curses. He shows that Irish folklore went well beyond fairies, banshees, apparitions and holy wells.
   Cursing was a righteous supernatural attack, which used clever wordplay and special rituals to smite evildoers. With roots in ancient times, this type of cursing remained extremely widespread during the modern era, as Ireland’s people fought over food, land, religion and politics. Although it’s declined recently, even today some people still throw angry maledictions.
   In this talk, Dr. Waters introduces the history and principles of cursing, and explains why the Irish were so good at it. If you think ordinary swearing is handy for letting off steam, you’ve seen nothing yet.
   ‘May you wither up by the fire of hell soon and sudden, may the flesh rot off your bones and fall away putrid before your eyes, and may the consolation of eternal flames come to be your consolation in your last illness, and the hearthstone of hell be your pillow for ever.’ – from a letter sent to a Limerick landlord, in 1886.

Thomas Waters lives locally, in Beeston. He’s a lecturer in history at Imperial College London and author of Cursed Britain: A History of Evil Magic in Modern Times, due to be published in August by Yale University Press.

This event is part of Nottingham St Patrick’s Day Festival 2019. More info here .


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.