Long lost cousins - Diaspora Minister finds family he's never met while visiting Britain
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Long lost cousins - Diaspora Minister finds family he's never met while visiting Britain

DIASPORA Minister Ciarán Cannon was introduced to a cousin he has never met during a visit to an Irish organisation in Britain.

Mr Cannon recently spent the day with the Leeds Irish Health and Homes (LIHH) charity, to get a first-hand view of the work they do with Irish people across the city.

While there he met Tom Brannigan – a LIHH volunteer who is also Mr Cannon’s cousin.

“We recently had a special visit from Minister for the Diaspora Ciarán Cannon, who was welcomed to two of our events to witness the work we do for our Irish community here in Leeds,” a spokesperson for the charity told The Irish Post.

“Amazingly, one of our volunteers, Tom Brannigan, when he knew about the event, searched his family tree and discovered that the Minister was his cousin and so the event also facilitated their first meeting,” they added.

Mininster Cannon spent time with the Leeds Irish Health and Homes charity in Britain

Minister Cannon was also serenaded during the daytime gathering, which was held at the charity’s offices in Sheepscar Way.

LIHH employee and Cara Community Connector Sara Allkins is a local singer-songwriter and performer who decided to sing her re-write of the classic Irish ballad The Cliffs of Dooneen for the Minister.

Scroll down to watch the video

“Sara’s version tells the story of how Irish immigrants in the 1950s and 1960s built the city of Leeds and the sad reality of how they no longer know the City that they helped build and often feel displaced,” the LIHH spokesperson explained.

The Irish community in Leeds numbered 7,031 in the 2011 Census, although many more would claim Irish heritage, according to the charity, which offers services and support to the community across the city.

Following this month’s visit, LIHH shared a video of Sara Alkins serenading Minister Cannon which proved so popular they are now recording a full version of the song as a fundraising single for the charity.

“We are obviously delighted this has had such an impact and we are now in the process of recording a version with some local Irish musicians to release it as a single that can be downloaded for a small cost,” a LIHH spokesperson confirmed.

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Watch Sara Alkins serenade Minister Cannon here....