COMEDIAN Aisling Bea is supporting a project which documents the history of the Irish community living in Britain.
The actor, writer and stand-up comic, who hails from Kildare, has welcomed the initiative by the Irish in Britain (IIB) organisation, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
To mark the occasion, IIB has launched an ambitious heritage project to capture the history of its member organisations and the communities they serve.
"For all of our shared histories, good and bad, there is no denying the almost cousin-like cultural link between Britain and Ireland,” Bea admits.
"I, and so many others, moved permanently to Britain, maybe unknowingly permanently on that first trip,” she added.
The comedian, whose real name is Aisling Clíodhnadh O'Sullivan, has now been based in England for a number of years, where she has built up a hugely successful career in the entertainment industry.
A popular face on the stand-up circuit, she is also a regular on our television screens and in 2020 won the Breakthrough Talent Bafta for her series This Way Up, which she created, wrote and starred in alongside fellow Irish writer and actor Sharon Horgan.
"As an Irish person in Britain, you always keep an ear and an eye on home, and an ear and an eye out for the other Irish people who made the jump and are here,” she said this week.
"Not everyone has had it easy, not everyone moved because of hope or a bright future but often out of escape or necessity to survive, not everyone got to walk the streets paved with gold, but their stories are worth telling too.”
Bea added: "Irish people have helped build Britain; its communities, cultures, roads, music, arts, health services, entertainment.
"I am over the moon to know that these stories are getting acknowledged."
IIB’s oral history project, which is supported by funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will see members of the Irish community across Britain trained to record the oral history testimonies of their peers.
“By telling the story of 50 Years of the Irish in Britain, this project will help to educate the public in migration and the modern history of Britain and Ireland,” IIB confirms.
“We will document and preserve the life stories of people of Irish heritage in Britain and the valuable contribution they have made through the recording and archiving of oral history interviews,” they explain.
“In doing so, we will enable future generations to learn about the experience of the Irish in Britain and the remarkable community work, social engagement and political activism that takes place day in day out.”
IIB will take their finished project on a roadshow exhibition in November, where they will showcase 50 of the oral histories they have captured.
Founded in June 1973, and previously called the Federation of Irish Societies, Irish in Britain is a national umbrella organsation representing a range of Irish groups, clubs, centres and individuals across the country.
For further information about their heritage project and tour dates click here.