WE BUILT THIS CITY: Lottery funded project will celebrate the Irish contribution to Birmingham

Yvonne Price and Maurice Malone from BIA -holding a copy of the now iconic photograph of Irish workers at Spaghetti Junction-taken by Brendan Farrell just before the road interchange opened in 1972.If you look closely, you will see that this picture almost shares the same location as the original photograph

Yvonne Price and Maurice Malone from BIA -holding a copy of the now iconic photograph of Irish workers at Spaghetti Junction-taken by Brendan Farrell just before the road interchange opened in 1972.If you look closely, you will see that this picture almost shares the same location as the original photograph

Birmingham Irish Association have announced that they have received £55,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the first ever project to celebrate and record the huge contribution from the Irish Community in Birmingham in building the majority of the city`s well known landmarks and roadworks. The project, titled We Built this City will also record contributions from Irish folk who worked in factories, hospitals, transport systems and many other areas.

Birmingham Irish Association CEO Maurice Malone said, “This is a long overdue and exciting project that will put the contribution the Irish made to Birmingham well and truly on the map.

“Over the next year, we want to meet with the many people who may have worked on the building sites in and around the city and also those who helped build the infrastructure of Birmingham. Their tales, I have no doubt, will provide a fascinating insight into the life of a young Irish immigrant in Birmingham. We have already heard many stories of the unique and often arduous working conditions that do doubt would never exist today.”

The now iconic photograph of Irish workers pictured at Spaghetti Junction -prior to its opening in 1972. Taken by Brendan Farrell two years after he joined the Irish Post, this picture has been used in countless books and on websites. The picture is now part of the Brendan Farrell Collection in Birmingham and will be included in the new BIA Heritage Lottery Fund project

The now iconic photograph of Irish workers pictured at Spaghetti Junction -prior to its opening in 1972. Taken by Brendan Farrell two years after he joined the Irish Post, this picture has been used in countless books and on websites. The picture is now part of the Brendan Farrell Collection in Birmingham and will be included in the new BIA Heritage Lottery Fund project

The project will be led by BIA’s Yvonne Price, who over the years has been involved in many support projects with BIA.

Yvonne said, “I am delighted to have the opportunity to co-ordinate this project, to finally show the huge contribution the Irishmen and women made to the building of Birmingham in every sense of the word. I don’t think this has been recognised enough over the years.

“In the construction industry alone, huge projects such as Spaghetti Junction, many of the city centre’s squares and shopping centres, Symphony Hall, Star City, the NIA, NEC and Library are just a few.

“The stories of the Irish construction workers is the stuff of folklore. We must also not forget the many Irish immigrants who worked on the buses, in factories, in hospitals and care homes and of course the publicans of our many pubs and social clubs across the city.

Group from Birmingham Irish Association pictured at Spaghetti Junction.  Included with Maurice Malone, CEO, BIA (left) and Yvonne Price, Project -Co-ordinator BIA(2nd from right) are Maureen and Jim Beddows, P.J.Brien, Mary Hoare, Terry Lynx, Jim Wood, Maurice McElligott, Carmel Holloran, Maree McAndrew and Teresa Pattinson. Maurice Malone chose the location-inspired by the original photograph of Irish workers taken during the construction of Spaghetti Junction by Brendan Farrell in 1971

Group from Birmingham Irish Association pictured at Spaghetti Junction.
 Included with Maurice Malone, CEO, BIA (left) and Yvonne Price, Project -Co-ordinator BIA(2nd from right) are Maureen and Jim Beddows, P.J.Brien, Mary Hoare, Terry Lynx, Jim Wood, Maurice McElligott, Carmel Holloran, Maree McAndrew and Teresa Pattinson. Maurice Malone chose the location-inspired by the original photograph of Irish workers taken during the construction of Spaghetti Junction by Brendan Farrell in 1971

“Thanks to the generosity of the Heritage Lottery Fund we will finally be able to record and archive the history of the Irish contribution to Birmingham from the 1940s up to the present. It’s all very exciting, the stories are already pouring in and make excellent reading”.

The project will end in early 2017 and will include oral and video recordings, DVDs, a major exhibition and a book launch. Highlights will include a touring exhibition, website, workshops and talks- plus delivering the project to schools in the city to show the youth who and what made Birmingham.

The oral history recordings, backed up by the video and photographic data will be archived as valuable research in history for current and future generations.

If you have a story or great photographs to share please get in touch with Yvonne Price at Birmingham Irish Association. Tel 0121 604 6111
email yvonne@birminghamirish.org.uk.

The Heritage Lottery Fund, We Built this City project with Birmingham Irish Association is separately funded from all the other BIA support services. BIA is a registered charity and has to depend on funding from the Irish Government and other sources including the local community in Birmingham. The recently announced plans to build a new BIA Dementia Care Centre for the Irish community in Birmingham will have to depend on charity fund raising.