Innisfree dedicated

to giving the Irish a sense of community

I Only Came Over For Six Months – An Irish emigrants story

“I only came over for six months” – the lives of Irish emigrants to be recorded

Innisfree Housing Association has announced the award of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £7800 to help Irish people tell and record their experiences of travelling over to the UK to live and work.

James Keating - Trench Warrior in the 1960's

‘I only came over for six months’ will bring together several generations to share their personal experience of emigration.  This will be set in the greater context of immigration to London from Ireland during both the 50’s and 60’s and the more recent waves of migration in the early 2000’s.

Innisfree resident, James Keating, travelled to London in 1962 and became one of the ‘trench warriors’ who worked on construction sites in the 60’s and 70’s.

James Keating - Innisfree tenant today

John Delahunty, Innisfree’s Chief Executive, said: “James has a great story to tell and it is important for us to celebrate our Irish roots by encouraging these reminiscence services.  As well as creating a feeling of well-being among residents, they uncover some of the needs within the Irish migrant community.”

Sue Bowes, Head of the Heritage London Fund, London, added: “Clearly, the success of All Our Stories has reinforced the fact that we are indeed a nation of story tellers and that we want to explore and dig deeper into our past and discover more about what really matters to us.  This is exactly what the grant will do for the project ‘I only came over for six months’ as they embark on their journey of discovery.”



Jim Sheeran – Supported Housing Manager 020 7692 1252

Anna Ferdinand – Office Services Manager 020 7692 1248


Notes for editors:

About Innisfree Housing Association

Innisfree was first registered as a housing association in 1985 to respond to the poor health and housing conditions of the local Irish community in Brent.

From the management of short-life housing in one borough, Innisfree has grown substantially and now owns over 500 homes, mainly in North and West London. We provide family homes, a very successful scheme for Irish Elders and supported housing for vulnerable single people. Over 60% of our tenants are Irish though we work increasingly with other immigrant communities.

The project – I Only Came Over For Six Months.

This reminiscence work is therapeutic and enables Innisfree to contribute to the celebration of all things Irish for the Irish community living in London.

There are still specific needs in the emigrant Irish community which need to be met by Innisfree and other organisations in the UK.

Thousands of Irish men and women emigrated to the UK for many different reasons. Most have sought work and a different future. Each person has their own story. Innisfree are fortunate to work closely with many who have yet to tell their story and this project offers a unique opportunity to record and listen to tales of loneliness, hardship, joy and adventure.

It also offers the opportunity for Innisfree to learn about unaddressed need and, through exploration, to seek ways to offer help in the future.

The project is expected to start in January 2013 and will last for one year.

All Our Stories

All Our Stories is a simple funding programme for 2012 developed so everyone can get involved in their heritage. This programme is now closed to new applications and decisions were made in October 2012.

Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money from the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, HLF invest in every part of the UK’s diverse heritage. HLF has supported 33,000 projects allocating £4.9 billion across the UK. Website


Back to all stories


  1. Hello guys,

    First, congratulations on the new site – lovely layout.

    And also to say really looking forward to see what the ‘I only came over for six months’ project produces. Very relevant to ourselves being children of those 50s emigrants (we’re now living back in Ireland), and great to see that some of the stories will be captured.

    All the best,

    Mick Regan.


  2. You’re very welcome. This is all a new experience and we’re looking forward to learning lots!

    Jim Sheeran

  3. Good to see Innisfree getting into cyberspace!
    It would be good to see a tenants forum on this website.
    Innisfree tenants don’t really have any representation and have always struggled to form an association. Perhaps we could create one online. See the group for tenants on Facebook. It’s a start. Please join.

    Des Brittain

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