Giving Voice

I am a bit nervous about doing the online event as part of The Liverpool Irish Festival on Monday evening – it would be great to see you there, tickets are free and you can book through the link below. I will be joined by Liverpool historian Greg Quiery.

I have done a few press interviews and events but this one is different. If you have read Under The Bridge (if not-sort yourself out ) you will know that one of the characters Vinny struggles with his identity, is he English, Irish, or Scouse?

My nervousness in advance of this event comes from my own experience growing up of Irish ancestry in Speke in the 60s and 70s. My upbringing was Catholic not Irish. I knew of the family’s roots in Ireland and my dad came directly from Wicklow but three things broke the connection for decades.

The first was the death of my brother in the Army in Ireland, it took a long time to come to terms with this. I have only started speaking about it recently and included it in a post a couple of weeks ago.

If the first reason wasn’t enough to silence discussion about Ireland within the family home. My dad had his voice box removed because of cancer, his voice was taken away. Although he learnt to communicate in later years, his physical ability to tell stories was severely diminished.

Thirdly events outside the home crept in as they always do. At the beginning on Monday Greg will pay tribute to Tony Birtill an Irish language teacher and activist. Tony kept Irish language teaching in Liverpool alive, he was also part of a group of people throughout the decades of ‘the Troubles’ who kept the connection to Irish culture through the Liverpool Irish centre and other organisations. Together with Greg, Tony successfully campaigned for a memorial to Irish famine victims in the city.

There is a strange parallel between my father losing his voice in the 70s and the Irish community in Liverpool. People like Tony, Greg and many others fought to defend the connection, while mainstream TV was full of Irish jokes, and the only talk of Irish on the news was of ‘terrorists and bombs’. For me, it feels like it wasn’t only my father’s voice that was diminished.

But…..I know this is not everyone’s experience, and that makes me nervous about sharing. Anyway do two things… buy the book; for friends and family as a Xmas present if you have it yourself, and join us on Monday evening.

Published by jackbyrnewriter


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