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St Patrick’s Day event will explore South Tyneside’s Irish connections

The Iona Club in Hebburn will screen Gary Wilkinson's documentary Little Ireland documentary on St Patrick's Day. He's pictured, left, with Ged Cuskin and Tom Kelly.
The Iona Club in Hebburn will screen Gary Wilkinson's documentary Little Ireland documentary on St Patrick's Day. He's pictured, left, with Ged Cuskin and Tom Kelly.

A St Patrick’s Day celebration is set to explore South Tyneside’s connections with Ireland.

Documentary film Little Ireland will be screened at the Iona Club, in Hebburn, on Thursday, March 17.

The 30-minute feature was created by South Shields film-maker Gary Wilkinson and Jarrow playwright Tom Kelly, and explored the borough’s Irish links.

The event, at the club in Station Road, will also see a performance from Hebburn musician Ged Cuskin’s Irish band Shamrock Street.

Gary said: “Tom and I decided to make the film because we both have Irish roots. I was doing some research into my family history and I knew my family had come from Ireland but didn’t know exactly where.

“I came from an Irish Catholic family, the McFaddens, who came from County Derry at the end of the 19th century and Tom’s family was the same.

Little Ireland documentary to be played at the Iona Club Hebburn. From left Gary Wilkinson, Ged Cuskin an Tom Kelly

Little Ireland documentary to be played at the Iona Club Hebburn. From left Gary Wilkinson, Ged Cuskin an Tom Kelly

“We wanted to make the film quite informative about why the Irish came to Jarrow and what they did for the town, and it’s been very popular.

“We made the film in 2008 and it’s been shown every year since on St Patrick’s Day at different places throughout the borough.”

Gary is hoping the film will help people celebrate St Patrick’s Day and understand why we do.

He added: “Ged got in touch to say he was doing a gig at the Iona and wanted to show the film as well.

We wanted to make the film quite informative about why the Irish came to Jarrow and what they did for the town, and it’s been very popular.

Gary Wilkinson

“It looks back on the history of the Irish community and their involvement here, from the building of St Bede’s Church in Jarrow to their involvement in the Jarrow March.

“People seem to really enjoy the film, and a lot of people turn up wearing green when we have screenings of it.

“I think the event will be a great night of celebration.”

Doors open at 7.30pm with the film screening at 8pm and Shamrock Street from 9pm. Entry is £2.