Listen to our new podcast series - Irish Nurses in the NHS

Following the conclusion of the data collection stage of this three-year project, a new podcast series was launched in July 2023.

The series of 12 podcasts will be released over the next year and will follow particular themes arising from our in-depth interviews with the 45 Irish nurses across Britain.

The podcasts are produced by Grainne McPolin, an independent documentary maker, and Louise Ryan and Neha Doshi from London Metropolitan University.

Each podcast lasts around 20 to 30 minutes and features the stories of Irish nurses reflecting on specific themes from their nursing careers.

In the first podcast – Leaving Home – we meet five women who left their lives in Ireland to join the NHS. We hear about the challenges of becoming a nurse in Ireland which included a lack of training opportunities, the expense of such unpaid training and the nepotism that was common in Ireland at this time. We also hear about the journeys taken by these women and their first experiences setting foot in Britain.

In the second podcast – Becoming a nurse – five nurses share their recollections of the highs and lows of their training. Mary, one of the nurses interviewed in this episode, arrived in London not long after the end of World War II and the birth of the NHS. Her training was regimental yet she remembers some comic moments she holds dear from her time training. Four more voices share their stories of adjusting to their new lives and their memories of their training.

The third episode in the series – The Liverpool Story – focuses on the specific experiences of those nurses who went to train and work in hospitals across Liverpool.

The the fourth episode – The Bright Lights of London – explores how these young Irish student nurses adapted to the London social scene, especially in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the fifth episode – A Home Away from Home – we hear the story of how the Nurses' Home was central to the recruitment and retention of tens of thousands of Irish nurses into the NHS. The nurses in this episode recall the time when they lived in nurses' homes and how they forged new friendships with other students in this home away from home.

Future episodes will focus on experiences of anti-Irish hostility especially around the time of the IRA bombing campaigns in Britain and how these nurses navigated the fine line between much-valued nursing professionals and Irish migrants in hostile times.

A set of photographies with Irish Nurses in nursing uniforms

The podcast series is made possible through our funding and partnership with various organisations including the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs (Irish Abroad Unit), the London Irish Centre and the Liverpool Institute of Irish Studies and Irish Community Care Liverpool. We also thank Kelly Crichton for her support with launching and promoting the series.