Friends of the Irish night returns for July - with guest host set to put on a good show

A popular night of music celebrating South Tyneside’s links with Ireland is returning for July, with a guest host in the hot seat.

(l-r) Tony Corcoran, Benny Graham and Alan Brown.
(l-r) Tony Corcoran, Benny Graham and Alan Brown.

The Friends of the Irish night is back, with the next night of Celtic celebrations taking place on Thursday, July 28.

The night is usually hosted by Shamrock Street, but for July, The Tony Corcoran Band will take centre stage.

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Organiser Eddie Macintyre said: “The band is led by fiddle virtuoso Tony Corcoran, a legendary musician throughout the UK and Ireland.

The event takes place at the Alberta Club in Jarrow.

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    "It also features Benny Graham of Pitmen Poets fame, and an English Folk Dance and Song Society Gold Badge holder.

    "And on keyboards, ‘Lord’ Alan Brown, who was a mainstay of the Danelaw band, a classy ceilidh outfit who played all over the North of England, and Scotland."

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    He added: “There will also be floor singers on the night, including Achill Islander Maureen O’Donnell, whose rendition of ‘The Home I Left Behind’ would bring tears to a glass eye.”

    The event takes place at the Alberta Club in Railway Street, next to Jarrow Metro station, and begins at 8.15pm.

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    There is no entry charge, admission is free.

    The Friends of Irish Night is one of South Tyneside’s longest-running events, dating back to 1962.

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    And organisers, musicians and punters have been making the most of its 60th anniversary year after many months of missing out during the covid pandemic.

    The long-running event originally took place at the Bede’s Club, but moved to its ‘new’ home at the Alberta Club more than 25 years ago, with the new hosts promising organisers at the time ‘we will look after you’.”

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    The Friends of the Irish Night may have been running for some six decades, but South Tyneside, and Jarrow and Hebburn, have been alive with the sounds of music from Ireland for more than a century, thanks to the settlers who came over to work in the heavy industries on the River Tyne.

    The Irish workers’ influence on the area is well documented, with the area having been dubbed ‘Little Ireland’ due to the large population of people from Hibernia who came to know Tyneside as home.