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Liverpool Irish Festival 2021 celebrates culture and community

Liverpool Irish Festival returns this autumn with 10 packed days of events celebrating the city’s links with Ireland.

The 2021 festival takes place from October 21-31 and this year’s theme is Exchange.

Music, theatre, poetry, performance, film, tours, talks and food and drink events will take place live and online, while there is also the popular annual Family Day being held at the Museum of Liverpool on October 30.

Liverpool Irish Festival was started in 2003 with the aim of celebrating Ireland’s contribution to Liverpool’s cultural identity and heritage. It is the most diverse multidisciplinary arts and culture-led Irish festival in the UK.

It receives funding from both Liverpool City Council and the Irish government and has also benefited over the last difficult 18 months from a Culture Recovery Fund grant.

Here are just some of the 2021 events at venues across the city centre and beyond.


Old Time Sailors is a flash mob musical show taking audiences on a time-travelling tour to the 19th Century. It takes place at the Liverpool Irish Centre on October 21 at 8pm.

Composer and performer Maz Connor presents The Wife of Michael Cleary at the Royal Court Liverpool Studio on October 22 at 8.15pm.

Also on October 22, bring an instrument and join the fun at Seisiún at Peter Kavanagh’s from 9pm.

Irish musician Matt McGinn weaves music and memories in Lessons of War at the Music Room at the Philharmonic Hall. The show on October 23 starts at 8pm.

The Music Room is also the location for an evening with Colm Keegan and Laura Durrant (pictured) on October 25 at 8pm.

From Here to There, at 61 Jordan Street on October 29, is a one-night collaborative effort featuring music acts from both sides of the Irish Sea.

Performance and Literature

The Curious Disappearance of Mr Foo on October 22 is a two-hander surrounding the forced repatriation of Chinese seaman after the Second World War – many of whom were married to Liverpool-Irish women. It is being performed online.

A book launch for the Letters of John McGahern, one of Ireland’s greatest literary figures, takes place at the Roblat Lecture Theatre at the University of Liverpool on October 23 at 6pm.

Join authors Greg Queiry and Jack Byrne online on October 25 for a conversation about the image, and reality, of the Irish community in Liverpool.

Continuing the online programme, on October 27 Susan McKay, author of Northern Protestants – on Shifting Ground, will be in conversation with Eoin McNamee.

The Music Room at the Philharmonic Hall is the venue for Obscured View on October 27 at 8pm, a one-woman, one-act play about a love affair with football.

Liverpool playwright and author Carol Mcginn follows her play Kitty with another true story, charting the life of The Esteemed Dr Barry (pictured). See it at the Liverpool Medical Institution on October 28-29 at 6pm and 8pm each evening.

Walking Tours

Liverbird Safari Walking Tour (October 22 £12/£10). Join ArtsGroupie for a lively, fun two-hour walking tour ‘safari’ around the city centre. The walk takes people on a Liver Bird-spotting mission, learning about the history of Liverpool as you go.

Scotland Road Walk (October 23 £10/£7). This two-hour walk through the former heartland of Liverpool’s Irish community will look at schools, statues and graveyards to explore what is left of the area's rich heritage, rousing some old ghosts along the way.

South Liverpool Walk (October 23 £10/£7). On this two-hour walk you will discover the Irish connection to many of the historic buildings in the Hope Street and Rodney Street areas, and hear from some of the colourful characters who populated them.

Pride of Sefton Dock Tours (October 30 Free) Taking in Liverpool’s waterfront in the way many migrants will have over centuries, this tour tells much about the formation of Liverpool’s waterways and those who had a hand in the developments.

Irish Heritage Walk (October 30 £10/£7) Familiar streets and buildings yield up their stories in this fascinating walking tour of the area around the Bluecoat and city centre.

Pre-booking is essential for all walking tours.

Liverpool Irish Festival runs from October 21-31. For more details about the full programme and tickets, visit the website HERE

Picture top: Ulster Rhymers


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