London Irish Centre
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The Centre originated in a fund established by the Catholic Church (the Irish Priests Committee) to provide support for young Irish emigrants in London, and many of its staff in the early years were priests and other members of the Church. With Ireland suffering from recession at the time, and Britain in need of workers in a number of industries and services, tens of thousands crossed the Irish Sea in search of opportunities. The Centre itself opened in 1955, providing accommodation (serving as a hostel in its early years), employment support and a starting point to those arriving. The Camden Square location was chosen for its proximity to Euston Station, where Irish people disembarked their trains from Holyhead Ferry Port. The London Irish Centre soon became the hub of Irish social activity, with dinners, dances and social functions; the settings of friendships made, spouses met, and the formation of a vibrant Irish community in London.
At the core of the Centre's focus remains providing assistance to Irish expatriates in London, whether they have been there for decades or have just arrived. The welfare service remains the largest for Irish people outside Ireland. The Centre also provides a number of cultural activities to a wider membership, including music and language classes and concerts, as well as conferences and other discussion events hosted in Camden Square. In addition to this site the Centre also has offices in West Kensington and Kilburn. In its history the Centre has hosted visits from Presidents of Ireland Mary Robinson (in 1993) and Michael D. Higgins (in 2012), as well as other major political figures from Ireland and Britain.
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