In a year of ugly anti-immigrant politics, the history of the Irish in London shows that time is a great healer. After all, it was only as far back as the ’50s and ’60s when new arrivals were greeted by signs proclaiming ‘No blacks, no dogs, no Irish’. Regardless, the Irish thrived and built great swathes of this city: men from Donegal and Mayo shovelled their way through the London clay to build the tube, and there are still Irish engineers working on Crossrail today.
While Camden and Cricklewood are not the little Irelands they were when The Dubliners namechecked The Crown pub on ‘McAlpine’s Fusiliers’, the Irish community has bossed it in all areas of London life – from arts and entertainment to food and high finance. And lively Irish pubs can still be found in every corner of the capital (see below for a few of the best). Brexit may have left the future uncertain for the Irish in London, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that this relationship is built to last. Mark O’Donnell
Did you know? Open since 1954, Camden’s Irish Centre is the oldest and largest in Britain. Its welfare service continues to support vulnerable people, and it’s a great place for a session too.
Mark’s favourite Irish spots in London
With its Tayto crisps, velvety Guinness and trad Irish music on Fridays, it’s no wonder the Irish Post has called the Auld Shillelagh in Stoke Newington the best Irish pub outside Ireland.
A huge tricolour flies proudly above the flower-festooned Churchill Arms near Notting Hill Gate, a famous boozer which is run by an Irish gaffer and has celebrity fans like (the Dublin-born) Annie Mac.
Close to the Gaelic Athletic Association ground in north-west London, The Man of Aran shows all the live sporting action and is big with ’ballers and hurlers.
Currently celebrating its twenty-fifth year in business, The Claddagh Ring is an authentic pub in Hendon with a lively roster of events: you can catch guest appearances from Irish sporting legends and screenings of All-Ireland Cup games.
The best of Irish London, according to you
‘The Toucan in Soho.’ Clare M via Facebook
‘The Swan “nightclub” in Stockwell and The Queens Head in Stratford.’ Sinead F via Facebook
‘Waxy O’Connor’s seems too obvious, but it is good there!’ Lian C via timeout.com
‘Blythe Hill Tavern: the best pub in south London with a real community feel. The beer garden also has a kids’ playground and there’s a brilliant trad session on Thursdays.’ Aoife N via Facebook
‘The Shawl in South Harrow: The Biblecode Sundays play Celtic rock there on Monday nights.’ Tony S via Facebook