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THE Irish face of London has a new focus with huge swathes of arrivals choosing to live in Clapham and neighbouring postcodes over traditional centres like Cricklewood.
This used to be a big piece of Ireland in London’s northwest, home to the Galtymore dance hall, an offshore platform for big name Irish acts on a high street that once checked your step with conversation pit stops a dozen times a day.
The Broadway used to be littered with Irish retail workers, packed pubs and prickly banter.
“A surge of people went back for the Celtic Tiger and others moved out into the country.
What’s left behind is the older generation, the people who didn’t move out and who didn’t go back home.” Cricklewood was always represented by venues like the Crown and the Galtymore, the latter growing to symbolise the Irish community and sometimes, define it. Today, you see some of the Irish pubs with information on posters written in Polish.
Clapham is the new Cricklewood…Kilburn, Camden, Harrow, Hammersmith; name-check whichever city settlement you like, this area of South London is fast becoming the default resting place for a new generation of emigrants; a generation that is both educated and informed and one that finds itself in the city as much by choice as by necessity.
For many new Irish arrivals, London is a place of opportunity and optimism. Clapham along with its adjoining SW postcodes is fast becoming the entry point for many new beginnings and a place more are starting to call home.
The tentacles which stream out from the Junction are not just railway lines and they stretch from Tooting to Stockwell, to Wandsworth and Putney.
This is an area which spawned this year’s London senior football championship winning football team - Fulham Irish - and is sprouting soccer teams with names like Wandsworth Celtic.
“I first noticed it...going down to the post office and suddenly it dawned on me – all the foreign accents.
It shook me really because it was lovely to go down the road and meet Irish people and to hear them chatting away as if they had nothing else to do.
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