On Friday 14th November I’ll be heading to my hometown of Huddersfield to watch a short film about the links between Huddersfield Irish community and the town of Connemara on Ireland’s west coast. The film has been made by my very good friend John O’Shea, who was born in Huddersfield but of Irish descent. John plays Gaelic football for the Brother Pearse club and is a strong believer in the importance of a game built around community rather than money. Last September he asked me to travel with him to Connemara and help document the community there, many of whom have family in Huddersfield.
We focused on a Gaelic football exchange trip between the Leiter Moir club and Brothers Pearse – an exchange that has been running for many years, and one that helps to strengthen bonds betweenthe two communities. John’s own father travelled with the club when he was a player. We interviewed the players, coaches, the club officials, and the local communities on both sides to get a understanding of the historical and cultural ties. Connemara is part of the Gaeltacht region, where Irish is the first language. As such, many of the interviews were conducted in Gaelic and then later translated by the Irish Studies department at Liverpool University.
It was strange to experience such a beautiful yet harsh landscape, a completely different language, and still meet person after person, each of whom had a personal knowledge and connection with the town where I am from. The people we met were extremely warm, friendly, generous, hospitable and of course with a great sense of humour. I felt both at home and away.
The film will be screened at The Huddersfield Irish Centre on the 14th November.