Johnny Giles and David O’Leary might be the most famous Irishmen associated with Leeds, but the Irish, and particularly Galwegians, have played a big role in the city’s development.
The story of the Irish (and Galwegians in Leeds ) is contained in Taking The Boat, a new book written by the Galway City Museum’s Brendan McGowan.
It was recently launched by Tommy McLoughlin, manager of the Leeds Irish Centre, and is currently available in bookshops throughout the west of Ireland.
The book sheds light on the Irish community in Leeds between 1931 and 1981. The community today numbers some 25,000 persons, the majority of whom trace their roots to the west of Ireland, particularly to Galway and Mayo.
The book examines the emigrant experience through the words of 33 men and women who left Ireland for post-war Leeds. It is based on research undertaken for Brendan’s MA in humanities at GMIT.
“The use of oral history has enabled and empowered these emigrants to write their history from their own perspective and in their own words,” he says.
“There has been very little written about those who went to Leeds, though they were numerous and many were from Galway,” said Breandán Ó hEaghra, deputy director of the Galway City Museum. “Brendan has been an integral part of the museum’s team over the past number of years, producing exhibitions about the Currachs and JFK’s visit to Galway. I would highly recommend this book as a gift to those who may have spent some time working in England during the period in question.”