Archive of the Irish in Britain

Founded in 1984, this is a unique academic and community resource and the largest of its kind in Britain. It consists of documents, audio and video recordings, books, photographs, posters and ephemera cataloguing the history of the Irish in Britain from earliest times to the present day with a special focus on the last century. It is a priority of the Archive to ensure that its contents are disseminated as widely as possible.

Key projects have included:

  • When Did You Come Over? (2000-03) – a multimedia touring exhibition about the history of the Irish in Britain
  • Irish Elders Now (2003-05) – an oral history project about elderly Irish people in London which concluded with the production, DVD distribution and public screenings of a film documentary entitled I Only Came Over for a Couple of Years…
  • St. Patrick’s Day in London (2003) – an exhibition based around the St. Patrick’s Day Programmes collection dating back to 1922
  • Cardboard Suitcases (2003-2011) – a long-term project to audit, acquire/commission, preserve and catalogue the archives of the London Irish Centre
  • Home from Home (2010-12) – a research project on Irish County Associations in London which greatly expanded the number of county collections represented in the archive and concluded with an exhibition of artefacts and mementoes

The archive is regularly consulted by researchers, students, academics and journalists from Britain, Ireland and the rest of the world. By preserving, expanding and disseminating the archive, the Irish Studies Centre aims to secure and safeguard the historical records of the Irish in Britain and to enhance understanding of the Irish community for British, Irish and others alike. We are keen to encourage participation in the development of the archive through volunteering, donation of materials, interviews, exhibitions and collaborative projects. A key objective of the archive over the coming years is to secure funding to catalogue and digitise our special collections.

For further information or to visit the archive, please email

The Archive in Britain comprises...