Ireland’s Ambassador Adrian O’Neill last week hosted Luton Irish Forum’s 20th anniversary celebrations at the Embassy of Ireland.
The last Census, in 2011, recorded Luton as having the highest percentage of Irish people – outside London – at three per cent or 6,126 of the local population (just over 195 people there ticked the Irish Traveller box). The population of second and third generation Irish is even higher.
Twenty years ago Luton Irish Forum’s first meetings were held in a small room in the Town Hall, moving on to the Drill Hall in High Town and then relocating to fully accessible community centre at Kathleen Connolly House.
The current building, Kathleen Connollty House, was redeveloped with funding from the Irish government, Luton Borough Council and the Boyle family of The Bushwood Partnership. It was officially opened in 2011 by the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD.
Luton Irish Forum now serves all of Luton’s diverse vulnerable and socially excluded people by promoting health and wellbeing, seeking to improve quality of life and to increase social inclusion.
Among those present at the embassy were Mayor of Luton Cllr Mohammad Ayub, Luton councillors Hazel Simmons and Aslam Khan, the High Sherriff of Bedford Vinod Tailor and Robin Porter of Luton Airport. There were performances by Luton Irish Forum’s Choir and Emerald Pipe Band and a group of traditional musicians from Comhaltas.
Commemorative certificates of appreciation were presented to founder members and to the children and grandchildren of deceased founder members.
Chair of Luton Irish Forum Tom Scanlon expressed deep gratitude to Ambassador O’Neill for the use of the Embassy paid tribute to the founding members and said: “Luton Irish forum is now one of the most progressive and diverse organisations in Britain.”
For further information on the services of Luton Irish Forum, please visit our website at www.lutonirishforum.org of telephone 01582 720 447.