Are The Irish Still Big in Birmingham?

According to BBC news (2014), the Irish population in Birmingham used to make up 4% of the cities population, but in recent times has begun to decline. Despite this statistic, almost 100,000 people turned out to this years St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, which is believed to be the biggest outside of Ireland after New York and London.

The 2001 census counted 22,828 Republic of Ireland-born and 6,086 Northern Irish Birmingham residents in 2001, whereas those numbers had dropped to 16,085 and 4,623 in 2011. However, 50,900 Irish nationals emigrated from the Republic of Ireland in 2013, and a survey found almost 60% of respondents did so to find work.

Paddy Foy, chairman of the Midlands Republic of Ireland Soccer Supporters Club said that when his “Mum and Dad moved over in the 1950s the Irish did the jobs the English didn’t want to do. My dad helped to build [Birmingham landmarks] Spaghetti Junction and the Rotunda. Now the Irish are going to London to join big corporations because that’s where the jobs are seen to be.”

Born in the city to Irish parents, Anne Tighe, head of Birmingham’s St Patrick’s Day Parade board said “I think it’s a very strong Irish culture in Birmingham. We have Gaelic football teams, a fantastic Irish dancing scene, there are places you can learn Irish instruments and there’s a great music scene for both traditional and more modern artists. There are still a lot of Irish traditions and Irish family values, those are all very strong in the Irish community in Birmingham.”




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