Irish Heart, Coventry Home



This project celebrates the contribution of Irish people who came to Coventry.

We have interviewed 65 people from Ireland who arrived between the years 1940-1970. These interviews are currently being turned into a 30 minute DVD.

We have also collected photographs and objects. These will be used at an exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum 10 March – 10 April 2018:

Join us for a lively evening of fun to mark the opening of our new exhibition:

The most successful element of the project has been the breadth of our interviewees. We have spoken to a wide variety of people including poets, builders, teachers, musicians. Furthermore, we are pleased to have involved so many female interviewees. Women are sometimes left out of narratives of Irish migration, even though they came to England in significant numbers.

One element we have found a bit of a struggle is capturing the media’s attention. Hopefully, we will attain more interest when the exhibition goes live in March 2018.

Publications: Not yet, although we are thinking of turning this into a book.

Other outputs: We will be producing a DVD and exhibition in March 2018

Duration of project: 12 months

Contact details:
Coventry Point, Market Way, Coventry, CV1 1EA
Telephone: 07933 308109


Volunteers learning how to use the equipment.


The launch of the project in March 2017. From left, Simon McCarthy (Manager of Coventry Irish Society), Dr. Cathy Hunt (Steering Committee) and Ciaran Davis (Project Officer).


Seán Cannon. Lead singer of the Dubliners. Interviewed for the project.

Seeking British Korean War veterans for film project



The Legasee Educational Trust Links up with the Korean War Legacy Foundation for Educational Project Covering Three Continents.

The Legasee Educational Trust is looking for Korean War Veterans from across the UK to come forward and share their experiences of the often forgotten conflict for a major new oral history project that will see British contributors added to the Korean War Legacy Foundations international digital memorial archive.

The New York-based Korean War Legacy Foundation, Inc. (KWLF) has sponsored the Legasee Educational Trust to film the oral accounts of British Korean War Veterans for their digital memorial, which hosts around 800 in-depth interviews with Korean War vets and 6,000 historical artefacts related to the conflict (

The British Veteransoral histories will complement the existing archive, which is used for educational projects including providing digital teaching materials, hosting annual teacher conferences and running educational trips to Korea.

The project follows the success last year of the Legasee Educational Trusts Korea The Forgotten War project, which collected the personal testimonies of 50 veterans from the North West of England for a digital archive that formed an invaluable insight into first-hand experiences of the war. This was accompanied by a local schools project, teaching resources and an exhibition at the Tameside Local Studies and Archive Centre.

Jongwoo Han, President of the Korean War Legacy Foundation said: We are very excited at the prospect of receiving the stories of Korean War Veterans from Great Britain, the second largest force to fight in the Korean War. The stories will be a great boost to our archive and help to bring together educators and teachers from three countries the Republic of Korea, the UK and the USA.

Legasee Trustee Martin Bisiker said: We are extremely keen to record the personal stories of British veterans who were involved in a war that is too often forgotten for this very special project. We know there must be lots of people out there with stories to tell and we are very keen to hear from them. If you know of anyone who was involved in the conflict then please encourage them to step forward so their voices can be heard for future generations across the world to discover and learn from.

If you know of anybody who served in the Korean War and has a story to tell, please contact the Legasee Educational Trust at Filming is expected to commence from September 2017.

About Legasee Educational Trust:

Legasee Educational Trust is a charity set up to record the experiences and observations of all veterans of conflict from WWII until present day. To create the largest online film archive of this aspect of our social history that can be used for education, learning and better understanding for todays generation and many generations to come. Legasees film archive is well regarded and used to support

Legasee Educational Trust is a Registered Charity No.1145354


Oral History Society welcomes new chair


The Oral History Society is delighted to announce that it has appointed a new chair: John Gabriel, professor of sociology at London Metropolitan University. Gabriel (left) will replace Graham Smith who has taken up a new role as professor of oral history at Newcastle University.

Smith, a long-standing member of the society and champion of oral history, will remain as a trustee. Gabriel was appointed at the society’s annual general meeting in July, when members voted to accept his appointment.

Gabriel, a sociologist by background, was working as a lecturer at Birmingham University about 20 years ago when he began to explore social identities in relationship to life experiences as a whole.

“I was conscious of the fact there was a tendency in my thinking, writing and teaching to work with objective categories of people and I felt frustrated that didn’t give me the whole picture. I began to become more interested in life history and life experiences,” he says.

It was on a sabbatical in Nicaragua that his eyes were opened to the possibilities of life stories. Gabriel volunteered for a number of non-governmental organisations in Nicaragua, which at the time was commemorating 500 years of resistance of the arrival of the first Europeans.

Indigenous groups came together in an ‘encuentra’ (a kind of conference) on which Gabriel worked as a volunteer. Whilst in Nicaragua he came across the book I Rigoberta, the personal testimony of Rigoberta Menchu, a Guatamalean Indian whose family suffered under the country’s military regime. Menchu, a Nobel peace prize-winner, came to the conference and gave her testimony.

Gabriel says, “I became hooked on the idea of life stories and what they communicate in terms of the history of communities. Getting stories from a personal perspective, rather than from more ‘authoritative’ sources was also powerful and a real eye opener.”

On his first day back at work after his sabbatical he was asked to run a six-week course starting the next day. Gabriel was free to choose whatever he wanted so he chose testimonial writing.

It went down well with students so he introduced it in other courses both at Birmingham and subsequently at London Guildhall University [which became London Met in 2002] and where he met Jenny Harding, now professor of cultural studies and communications and a trustee of the OHS.

“As soon as I heard that Jenny was teaching oral history I contacted her and we started talking. That was how I started to work on different community projects,” he says.

Between 2004 and 2008 they worked alongside Sarah Lowry, also an OHS trustee, on the refugee oral history project, which culminated in a major exhibition at the Museum of London. Gabriel describes this as one of the highlights of his career.

“We worked with 15 refugee communities and I contributed to Jenny’s postgraduate course on life history research which she developed to support the training. This ran alongside the collection of oral histories and artefacts to go into the exhibition. It brought together my research and teaching interests as well as my commitment to working with community groups,” he says.

Gabriel wrote some articles based on the oral history interviews and found that while the project provided an alternative history of London, giving a voice to those whose histories are not normally heard, it also provided another striking insight.

“What was interesting listening to the interviews and reading the transcripts was the extent to which a number of the subjects were happier talking about themselves not as refugees but as their role at work, or what they did within the family or their role in the community. They shied away from the label refugee,” he says. That is the beauty of oral history, he adds. “It allows people to represent themselves,” he says.

The MA in life histories did not survive a round of course closures, but Gabriel, alongside Harding, has taught oral history guerrilla-style, introducing it into other courses such as research methodology, communications, work placements, applied ethics and student projects.

The application of his university teaching and research has been an important part of his work – as a sociologist he worked with local authority officers, NGOs, the police and probation services on equality and diversity issues. He says chairing the OHS is a chance to combine his interest in research with his experience of working with local organisations.

So will members see a new direction for the society? “It’s a very successful organisation and whoever comes in as chair has to acknowledge and build on what is already there. In terms of my own style or vision I’m very interested in developing the relationship between research and teaching in higher education and community and public engagement. I’m interested in working across these boundaries,” he says.

Ensuring the continued financial sustainability of the society is also a priority, he adds as well as spending available funds creatively, “which is the fun part!”

Members should expect to see him at events such as the seminars at the Institute of Historical Research, the regional network annual meeting and he hopes to drop in on the odd oral history training course. “I’m very keen to talk to members and hear about their interests and listen and respond to their concerns, and I hope this will be another way I can contribute to the organisation” he says.