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Irish immigration to Britain

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Irish immigration to Britain has been recorded as earliest as the medieval times. With the proximity of the two countries, Ireland and Britain share ancestors, languages and culture over centuries. 


With the first mass immigration happening between 1845-1849 due to the Great Irish Famine. Many Irish people faced the choice between leaving their country for employment or starving. Britain being just across the Irish sea and seasonal migration having a long standing history. A lot of Irish people moved to Glasgow, Liverpool, South Wales and London to find employment. 


After the second world war, Britain experienced a labour shortage. Comhaltas in Britain grew through the settlement of Irish diaspora communities in the UK. Irish people landed in Britain in the 1950s to make a life for themselves, whether through choice or through need, a sense of belonging and community became incredibly important, especially in a place that could be hostile to Irish communities.

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Music became a tool for expression, belonging and coming together, both between musicians, and non-musicians who attended sessions to hear the music played, and to spend time with their friends and family. These communities of people playing music served a dual purpose of developing and teaching technical traditional skill, but also forming communities and providing reasons for people to congregate.

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In today’s Britain, Irish communities have become more assimilated, and the Irish traditional music has grown beyond its Irish origins, and is heard, played and enjoyed globally. Comhaltas in Britain now not only brings together Irish communities, but people of all backgrounds, who have an interest in coming together through the learning and enjoyment of Irish traditional music

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