Emigrants’ Stories Come Back To Cork

The second leg of an ambitious cultural exchange scheme will see a group of young people from Coventry staging an installation on the experience of Irish emigrants in Coláiste Choilm, Ballincollig, this Monday (25th March).

Islands Apart is a performance installation – a mix of film, music, poetry and drama – which focuses on the experiences of the many thousands of people from Cork who emigrated to Coventry in the UK over the last 50 years.

The exchange began in February when 18 pupils from Coláiste Choilm travelled to Coventry to stage a production of Tom Murphy’s ‘Whistle in the Dark’. Now, the friends they made in Coventry are heading back to Ballincollig to make their own contribution to a better understanding of what emigration between England and Ireland means.

‘Young people today are hearing a lot about emigration in the media’, explains Dr. Tim Burke, the drama co-ordinator at Coláiste Choilm. ‘The exchange project is using drama to help young people explore the experience of emigration, and the ways that the relationship between England and Ireland has evolved.’

‘Too often we hear either hard statistics, or affecting but often highly sentimentalised stories of family heartbreak. We are using drama and film to explore in more depth the various experiences – good and bad – of Irish emigrants.’

The performance installation will take place in the Prayer Room at Coláiste Choilm from 4-6:30 on Monday. It’s a free, walk-in event, and visitors will have the chance to listen to poetry, watch short mini-dramas, and enjoy filmed reflections of emigrants’ experiences. The Coventry students have spent a huge amount of time time interviewing Irish emigrants in Coventry, with the support of Julie Boden and Gary Davies – teachers at Blue Coat school in Coventry – as well as Irish community groups in Coventry.

As Julie and Gary explain, ‘Our storytellers are part of the thriving Cork community in Coventry; they recount personal experiences that capture the complex and emotional journey that is economic emigration. These stories have been transformed into a poetic and visual installation; crafted with love for the people of Cork by the people of Coventry.’

‘At a time when emigration is a reality once again,’ Dr. Burke says, ‘Islands Apart lets us hear the often forgotten voices of those who had to leave Cork over the last half a century. It’s a chance to reflect upon both the opportunities and the sense of loss that many emigrants experience. We’re looking forward to the conversations that will grow out of this exciting project, and we’d like to invite everyone to come along and see the installation for themselves.’

Time & Place

Coláiste Choilm, Ballincollig
Monday 25th March: 4:00 – 6.30 pm (drop in any time!)
Admission: Free


Tim Burke, 085 144 0339, timsiob@aol.com

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