Dramatic end to Irish immigration project

The IGRS has helped a children’s educational arts project in England’s North East to develop a music and drama event inspired by stories of migration. The Heritage Lottery Funded project was co-ordinated by The Customs House in South Shields who worked with two groups of young people as they learned how to interpret archive material relating to Irish immigration to South Tyneside.

Society volunteers Stuart McGee, Claire Bradley and Claire Santry carried out research in the 1901 and 1911 censuses of both Ireland and England to find records of families with children who had migrated from Ireland to the South Tyneside area. Copies of the census returns and, in some cases, supporting birth, marriage and death records, together with photographs of Ireland in that period, were sent to South Shields to stimulate discussion among the children about migration.

Updating the Society on the progress of the project, Fiona Kelly, Cultural Development Officer of The Customs House, said: “It has been a real revelation in terms of how much the young people from both groups have been captivated by your archive materials; they said that they have felt like detectives looking at the censuses, and tracking the families thorough time. They were also hugely captivated by their own family history, and in particular with Custom Breaks (the boys dancing group aged 8-13), all went home and did research with parents and grandparents to find out about their own families, many of whom are of Irish descent.“

The second stage of the project saw the children create two dance/music pieces based on the migration theme.

The two dramas – Ceili Tales – will be performed in front of a public audience at The Customs House, South Shields NEW33 1ES on Wednesday 7 May at 7pm, and will be followed by a community ceili led by the Tony Corcoran Band. It’s a free event and IGRS members would be made very welcome. Ticket numbers are limited, however. You can book tickets by contacting Fiona Kelly by email Fiona@customshouse.co.uk or telephoning: 0191 427 8188.

SS Gallery
Photos by Andrew Hagan/David Wilkinson





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