A (very) short history of The LIC
The seed for The London Irish Centre was sown in 1954, when the Catholic Church created a fund to establish a support service for young Irish emigrants in London. With Ireland in recession, and Britain in need of workers, many thousands of Irish people crossed the Irish Sea for new opportunities.
The Centre itself opened in 1955, providing accommodation, employment support and a starting point to those arriving. The Camden Square location was chosen for its proximity to Euston Station, where Irish people disembarked their trains from Holyhead Ferry Port.
‘I knew all about the Irish Centre and the people who met you off the train... It was wonderful. It was a meeting place. you were among your own’. Ned Fogarty, Cork, Hostel Tenant 1960s.
The London Irish Centre soon became the hub of Irish social activity, with dinners, dances and social functions; the settings of friendships made, spouses met, and the formation of a vibrant Irish community in London.
‘The London Irish Centre was a haven for immigrants searching for a welcoming taste of home in an alien city.’ The Guardian
Through the years, we have welcomed everyone from Presidents to Bing Crosby, from Dermot O’Leary to The Pogues.
While many things have changed through the decades, the LIC continues to meet the changing needs of the Irish community, from the original 1950s emigrants, now an ageing community, to recent emigrants whose London journey is just beginning.
Some interesting facts from our history:
| In 1963 Aer Lingus flew over Irish food for our AGM
| GAA events filled Wembley stadium in the 1950s. LIC was the place to go for the after-party.
| Eamon de Valera was the guest at the first Council of Irish County Associations annual dinner.
| One third of the 2,000 people that welfare service worked with in 1967 arrived with absolutely no money.
| Terry Wogan MC’ed a number of our fundraising concerts in the Royal Albert Hall.
| Bing Crosby visited LIC in 1968 to discuss an appearance at a fundraising concert!
| During late sixties, RTE’s The Late Late Show broadcast from LIC, reporting on Irish emigrants in London.
| In 1969 Leeds football players visited and had a drink at the ballad session in our bar. Jack Charlton paid up as an Irish Centre Club member!
| In 1969 - it cost £2 per week for bed, breakfast and dinner at the LIC.
Please get in touch if you think we can help or if you need further information.
London Irish Centre - Registered Charity No: 1149787, Company No: 8221421.