Speaker 0 00:00:01 <inaudible> how you doing? I'm Doug Giovanni and you're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora, find us and subscribe to [email protected]
here at the plastic podcasts. We'd like to think of ourselves as part of a community, but never has that been true than today. I'm here talking to not one, not two but three of the team at Leeds Irish center, which is celebrating 50 years of playing host to generations of the diaspora, as well as such acts as Brendan shine and Oasis. The anniversary is being celebrated with a book 50 years in the making and its author. Sharon Boyle joins me along with Liam Thompson, chairman of the Irish center and Tommy McLaughlin, its manager. Tommy starts off the interview by describing the plans the center had for its 50th anniversary before COVID changed everything.
Speaker 1 00:01:10 We were, we weren't going to have, um, Brent and Shane back Ben and shine opened the place back in 1970. And, uh, we were having Brendan back, um, for an evening, along with Philomena Bagley and the others. And th that was only just one night. The full week was taken up. We were going to have the heritage night telling people how the Irish people came to lead and how they're managed and how this place became. And, uh, lots of different things. Even down to once Sunday, we were considered blessed the graves and, you know, we just had so much to do, and it was just taken from us. You do have the book. We do have the book and a hope. Well, I know the book will be with us now with the next few days, the book is fantastic. I'm really, really pleased for what people have done and people of them have given up time and written in their memories and photographs given absolutely beautiful.
Speaker 1 00:02:09 So I hope people will take it on board as a souvenir of the last 50 years, maybe in remembrance of their parents or something to pass on to their children. I hope people will take it on board as a memory of the center for what she's she's written. Absolutely so lucky that we could have tried to do this on our own, and we wouldn't have made a good, a job anywhere close to where we are now, not even 10% of where we are now and being guided by professionals. And Sharon has brought us to the right direction. We've had discussions without agreements or disagreements, but that's what it's about and trying to get to the right thing. But when, when we bring down, we've been down to the printers already looking at the practices and to see it in actual, from something that's
Speaker 2 00:03:00 Taken two years to get to this point in, in regards to when we decided we were going do it. Um, the quality that the, the, the, the content is absolutely superb, um, run data to Sharon for what she's done for us really has done a fantastic job. Yeah,
Speaker 1 00:03:16 Yeah. I'm sure. And what was, what was, what was the experience like of compiling the book?
Speaker 3 00:03:21 Um, it's, uh, well, it's been a year, uh, 50 years and in the making for the central, yeah, for me, I'm a journalist. Um, I, uh, was invited to meet the committee by Tommy who, um, is related to me, but also knows my journalism work and, um, met the committee twice, um, put forward my ideas for a book. Um, and we were not far from the original ideas to be honest. Um, but it's actually grown, you know, I thought we'd probably might do 40 or 50 pages. It's 116 pages. And w it is beautifully laid out the photo we've we've, uh, used leads based, um, media, uh, designer, uh, Mike gone to photographer, James harder stay. Um, the quality of their work has really been super the printers, um, again, local princess. So we've kept it very much within the sitter as it should be. Um, and over the year it's gone from what I thought was 50 pages, 116, uh, and it's filled with photos, some great stories. And as I said, there's everyone in it from our way. So the whole shoe society,
Speaker 2 00:04:46 The whole shoe society, well,
Speaker 3 00:04:48 The whole issue of society, it's a sport. Isn't say
Speaker 1 00:04:52 It is a sport. Yes. And it started a few years ago and the plate out here in, in the, um, the, uh, the field and go, go across one and quite regular, uh, playing teams from Gallway and him called me in particular. And, uh, they come over to us and we miss them. And the good crack when they're here, you know? Yes, the whole,
Speaker 3 00:05:15 So the sensorially that it it's, um, every day it's honors and preserves its legacy, its culture, uh, while looking ahead. So by booking up and coming acts from Oasis to Nathan Carta, um, and you know, it, it, it gives everyone a chance whether it's sport, culturizing dancing. And so it's a mixture. I think that's why it's still a success is because I feel I've been still doing it now for the year. It combines it's past it respects and preserves and honors its past and its older members. But it also looks to the future. As I say, we've got, they've got traditional musicians here, but they've also got up and coming rock bands and singers and poets. Um, during the first lockdown they, uh, use the time and I thought, this sounds, they're not really, they use the time to date, uh, the sensor. And when you all can, you know, it's like a business conference, censor hour, perfect venue for weddings, big meetings. Um, so it's looking ahead commercially, while preserving its culture.
Speaker 1 00:06:31 We had a previous club, it was the old national build, Irish national down brick. It, it was a London club in its time. And of course it was many, many Irish pubs as well. But the only dancing we had was St. Francis, but that was only under Saturday night, 1960 then came, the Shamrock, came the Casey brothers from London and they opened the Shamrock, uh, in 1960. Therefore you had another place to choose from Saturday. Uh, I St. Francis and Sunday in the Shamrock, we used to go to St. Francis the Shambrook on the one night in case you miss anything or, um, uh, lots of people, lots of people met their partners in Spanish.
Speaker 3 00:07:13 Well, tell me when, when the center first opened. And I think the other thing that's impressed me rarely is the care that the center offers the care, the care about the members, the care about the community, the Irish community in Yorkshire, but the care about the city and the wider region. Um, you know, Yorkshire is welcomed the Irish show, uh, over the past 200 years, particularly. Um, and during the last lockdown, aside from doing, doing that reefer, being the center twice a week, they were making sandwiches on pack meals and hot drinks for the city's homeless. And I think that's the perfect analogy rarely of the center. Um, so the still even in lockdown, we're still looking after the less fortunate. And when the suns first opened, you talked about every Saturday that our benefit dances.
Speaker 1 00:08:05 Yes. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that was the time when I'm talking about the, um, the early 1979 71, um, that's working on the buildings that weren't covered by any health and safety issues or whatever, maybe could they work, can they be cash in hand, that type of thing. And on a regular basis, we would have the benefit dances every week. And that was a big way in brace in Mali in the early days. Uh, but that when I came then in 75, uh, there wasn't as much as that because obviously, um, people were being paid then as I say, uh, regularly that they weren't paying paid cash in hand. So, uh, we, we turned then to other charities and we've been, we've been well known within the, for
Speaker 4 00:08:56 Raising money, you know, but we, we never shouted about it or we never wanted any praise or whatever people know what we've done, you know?
Speaker 3 00:09:04 Well, I think the main, the main thing to stress Tommy is for certainly not Irish linked charities, either other than,
Speaker 4 00:09:13 No, not necessarily. I mean, a lot of wisdom for the young people, for the hospitals, the local hospitals in particular. I mean, um, the first the kidney machines were bought from here and the cage machines were five kid machines in the end, both for the Leeds, general infirmary, not only that, but those account books as well, so that people could do home analysis. And then as to say, when Thanksgiving came that the, um, uh, that we can see unit in St James's, we raised over a hundred thousand pounds for that, and it's gone on and on and on, as I say, mainly the challenges within lease area. Yes.
Speaker 3 00:09:51 I think while you, you are ahead of your time, I would like to say, because in 1999, they set up the Tuesday lunch club for older pensioners who may be isolated at home. I mean, loneliness is a, quite a fashionable, um, subject these days as loneliness among the elderly, but the Anderson's being looking after its, its elderly for 20 years and every Tuesday, normal times they have, um, over 300 old people coming here for lunch, uh, games, music downloads, and that's brilliant.
Speaker 4 00:10:28 Yeah. I can only say that it's an absolute, fantastic thing to do with the choose the club. It's the people that come to it. We've seen people coming here with coaches and leave without them. It's the truth, isn't it? Absolutely people. Sometimes this is the Tuesday. The club is the only time that some people get out during the week because obviously being able to leave the door like going out on the evening and this is their home from home and that it's something that's been with them all their lives. I know I almost, they used to cancel hospital appointments. She'd say that she was looking after the granddaughter or something like that because she'd say I can't do Tuesday. I can do Tuesday. And even when my mother sadly is no longer with us, when she was, when she was ill, she went no funeral on a Tuesday, no Monday, no choose the, you can't affect the Tuesday club, whatever you do.
Speaker 4 00:11:17 And that was a driving force for everything. And when her mother died of chair was empty for a week and the following week was somebody sat in the chair because that's what it's like. It's a family bringing somebody else into the family and look it up. And that's what this place is like. To be honest, it's always been a family place. It's warm, it's welcoming. And yet it's a business, but do you know what we do? What we do. So I've Al Island over here in England and we look after everybody, Prince up Harper, uh, Rick chopper, you're welcome through the door and everyone's looked after. And that's what it's about.
Speaker 3 00:11:49 I, I say, I tell people, you liked the NHS because you actually look up to people cradle to the grave. Um, because you can have your, uh, Christine parts, her hair right through to your way. It can everything in between.
Speaker 5 00:12:05 <inaudible>, you're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. We all come from somewhere else. The lead center was the first purpose-built Irish center in the country. And Tommy was the MC on its opening night. He tells me about how it all got started.
Speaker 1 00:12:27 Well, I think what it was cause I was, uh, I was a member of the old Irish Nash. I was there from 1962. We used to go there on a regular regular basis. And as I've said to many people, uh, we see these plans up on the wall about this new place that we're going to have. And we thought this would never, ever happen. And many, many of my friends brought out raffle tickets out to the sites and the different jobs, selling raffle tickets to raise money for this place. And eventually it, it happened. Um, I think it was because at that time there was so many young Irish men and women in, uh, in this country. Uh, you talked about the sort of the mid sixties, the time that the motorways were being, being built and one thing another, and you got these young people and they thought to themselves, we're going to stay in Leeds.
Speaker 1 00:13:18 We're getting married, we're going to have a family. We need a place of our own and fair play to them. They, uh, they put their heads together and eventually approach the, uh, local brewery, Joshua <inaudible> at the time. And, uh, they said, right, we will, we will see what we can do that. Then the hand, um, um, counsel ruling, he will make a ruling, another lie, the man who was on the council and he put them in touch with the people that were able to get the land for them. They've got a three acre site prepared on your crowed and then started to build the, uh, Mary Harrison. I'm sure you've heard about Mary, how to some matter how to simple as the contractor that built the center. I used to see it every week, because at that time I'm talking about 68 69. Uh, I worked in home and we used to go to open the 64 and we would pass this site, uh, every Monday and come coming back on the Friday. And we would see it's sort of progressing week by week and eventually towards the end of 69, it was complete. And, uh, as I say, it's a, it's an amazing place. And has been over the years. Were there any objections to it at the time? I don't think the was not that I know of. No, I never heard that actually. Um, again, you talk about the sixties, there were good times for everybody and the Irish people in particular in lead C to integrate very well. And,
Speaker 4 00:14:52 Uh, Noah, I didn't hear any, any, uh, no, I didn't actually know
Speaker 3 00:14:56 Wouldn't if the pictures in the book is a picture of my dad and then, uh, from Galway and a Mayo man, a friend of Hayes and the 200 yards down the road, and they're actually building the inner ring road, just 200 yards from the about. And, you know, there's no high vis jackets. There's no hard hearts. They're in Rocky, old clothes that would have been their own seen better days. And they were the work clouds. And you think that that's the sign of the times?
Speaker 5 00:15:30 Well, I think that, that gives us a nice link into actually, um, the more personal aspects of the stories, which is that, um, uh, obviously you're all psych, um, from, uh, from, uh, from Irish background and so on. And, and, and, and Sharon, you were talking about your dad and Thomas, you were sort of told me rather you were talking about, um, how, um, how the, how there's a, there's a history of the, the, the, the, uh, the Irish in, in Yorkshire and in deeds. And it's not something that people normally associate with with ours. I mean, they normally think of the Northwest down. So the Midlands down to the Southeast,
Speaker 4 00:16:00 They do, but leads, leads in particular. It was also always known as the West of Ireland town, you know, and I think going back to a long, long time, uh, they used to come this side for the farmers in the early days, you know, I'm talking to them, my father first came to England. He came at the twenties and then the mid twenties. And he came to the farmers in, in, in Skipton area and that type of thing. And then as Sharon says, you know, building buildings and buildings, and then people sorta came later on to do what the Navy workers used to say in the old days, you know? And, and I think that's what brought people to Yorkshire. But again, you're only at one member of your family to be here and you would draw then other members of your family would come or people from the one village.
Speaker 4 00:16:51 So fine. You know, that's sort of a prime example of my phone because my, my mother came here because her sister came to Leeds and, uh, and her husband were doing building, but my mother went into, into engineering and Taylor and, uh, so that, you know, it, wasn't just the aspects of the building that came over for. It was just, and I said to her, before she died, what, what, what brought you to Leeds and family brought me to leads as well. What was it, what was it really like for you when you come up here? Cause you've come from, from, you know, a green in Ireland that was quite relatively poor city. And she went, I could get a job in a mall and a job in an afternoon. If I didn't like the job in the morning, it was like find people that would get them jobs and act. And that's what this, this place was like. And the Irish community always stuck together and always helped each other. And that's what we thrive on. And that's what we've always have done. And it's been, this place has been the lifeblood of the Irish community over the years and long may it continue to be that, and it's down to the hard work
Speaker 2 00:17:50 That everybody else has put into it. The way I get where we are today,
Speaker 3 00:17:55 My dad is from, was born and raised in Galway when a seven, um, four went to America, him and his brother, Jimmy came to, um, England. Um, they started off, uh, uh, uh, uh, working on farms. And in fact, um, with his, with my dad, my best friend, uh, Jimmy, Donna Lee, uh, they slept in bounds of both the animals. So, you know, when they were hired out on farms, um, hiring days as well in North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and then they were in Manchester and, um, he met my mom there at an Irish dance. Um, my mom's family are from, uh, Mayo and Lee trim and Wicklow. And, um, and, but the settled in Wakefield where she and her son, we did cycle. Um, but my granddad on, on that side was a minor. And again, it worked with a lot of men, particularly from the West of Ireland in impact. Some, my dad was a leg rep. It was 72.
Speaker 2 00:19:04 My mother was one of, one of nine of the nine, followed them, came to England, settled in, originally settled in Cru, moved to Leeds, one in Nottingham, and then she was joined by two others. So the fall of Mandela, three of <inaudible> leads and one ended up in Nottingham, but my mother from CLA counts who may own Bella now. Um, but this was my mother. Then as time went on, we've set lodges in because obviously we weren't the richest people in the whole wide world and the needed to succeed and then keep going. And we used to the people we had were always from the local villages around where we were. And some people weren't really because we were young, innocent Irish scholars coming over. They weren't allowed to come to England till they went to Susie McGregor's. And that was to the mother. And my mother would either look after them, if we have space or she'd find them somewhere.
Speaker 2 00:19:58 But my mother was like the go to person to get somewhere. So this is what it was like is that they would have trusted person, the new little Somnia and leads that could go to I'd be sat in the house on a Saturday evening and knock on the door. And a man there with a suitcase I've come from, you know, come from lack and counting in County Mayo. And I'm coming over to, to, you know, can you get me some work? Can you get me somewhere to stay? And that was the evening then was trying to find somewhere for them to stop if we couldn't put them up or find them work on a Monday morning. And it was, you know, I can remember it as being, uh, a three and four year old kid. The house was full of people, not just as, as a family, I've got a brother and a, and a mother and father, but we had another five fellows of the nine of us in the house. And it was an absolute, fantastic time, the best I would do every single bit of it. Again, even though we didn't have a whole boatload, but was just, it was just
Speaker 4 00:20:48 A fun crack laugh. And the fact that it was, it was like having another bit of Island over here. It was in our house. And that was the nice part for me. Like I could go back to Ireland now and I can see the families that, that we, we had, the grandfathers actually came to us and that salt away. And now you see the families over there and they're still, the family is still remember that, you know, my grandfather went and stayed at your house. Um, and that that's fantastic because that, and that connection stays forever. And that's what this place was like is we've got people that came here in the, in the fifties and sixties, and they've gone back and retired back to Ireland. But when the come, when the combat leads, the first place to come is through this door because they'd rather commit this is their home. And they've got family here, but this is their home. And that's fantastic. That's what will love this place is all about,
Speaker 3 00:21:39 You know, I think though, I mean, say my grandmother, uh, wave six off and my uncle told me there was a small Hill in front of the farm where they left when they were growing up in a little Hamlet called and recline near Middletown in Galway. And they would leave the farm, go to the local train station. That's now closed down and the train would go past two or three fields away, uh, to, uh, Dublin get the boat. And, uh, my uncle Jimmy said, she'd leave that walked to the train station. And when they're on the train, she was stood on the little Hill with the tea towel, waving goodbye. And I think, you know, I've, I've waved to children off to university to stay. And I read about people being grief stricken. And so that's when I learned, I think how much she, of foul waving six off, never knowing when she'd see them again. And one daughter couldn't go home for you is heartbreaking. I mean, that's the cost of migration. It is heartbreaking. And I think that's why centers like this apart from having a great time on a weekend. But that's why they're so important.
Speaker 4 00:22:53 Well, my story, my story is a little bit like Liam's, uh, my parents were, were married in London and, um, they, uh, they were bummed down to London, uh, battle of Britain and mother was expecting me at the time. And he was told by the authorities that they would have to incubate her. So they said to her, where would you like to be? And she said, well, the last time I was speaking to my husband, it was instill constraint because at the time my father worked for the war office C was a bricklayer by trade. And he worked for the, the war office in, in, um, repairing damaged buildings that would belong to the government. So anyway, they moved up, she moved up to still constrained. And that's when I was born in January of 1941 apps app to that a few months later,
Speaker 1 00:23:46 She, she moved into Mexico, which is in South Yorkshire and why the move that is because her sister and a younger sister was expecting a baby and she wants to be, uh, to, to help them through my father, went into the mines at that stage. And we then just like, um, like Liam was saying, we took in young lads as launches, mainly from two McCady, believe it or not. And again, the small house that we had was absolutely packed with Lance digital wanted to be nowhere else. And if they didn't live with those themes to come to us on a Sunday, to listen to two radio Athlone and listen to the football, whatever young girls that was in the local hospital, that was over from my, the much of your hospital used to come down because they have nowhere else to go. So they used to come to us because again, they have the Irish connection there.
Speaker 1 00:24:40 My father, as I said, had, um, and the allotment, and instead of growing flowers, he kept pigs. And I remember at one time it had between 30 and 40 pigs to time. So you can imagine, uh, during the, during the late forties and fifties, we have plenty of food because we had loads of bacon because he used to kill two pigs every six months. But having said that use of VC, uh, C to the older people in the street to make sure that they have plenty. But my recollection of those days was seeing hams hanging from the ceiling and, uh, you know, down at the cellar, then he would, he would cure, cure that, that the ham and all that. So again, as I said that about what the respect that they had, um, was when I went to one, then, uh, just maybe it may be about 20 years ago.
Speaker 1 00:25:38 Now people from <inaudible> came out and met such a possible. It was unbelievable. And one day in the center here, I was just passing through and I saw this couple sitting down and I just acknowledged them. Then coming back, I thought, I'd just sit down and just speak to these people. So the lady said, do you need to have the temp info to come in here? Do you need to have I said, no, she said, I want you to see something. She said, so our husband put his hand in his top pocket, took out this photograph. And it was of himself from my mother taken in the backyard in Mexico, back in the late forties. It's since gone to American Chicago in particular. And it was absolutely medicine. So it said, cannot, can I meet your mom? I said, you certainly can. So we went off there and home and we had a long afternoon then reminiscent about all those times in Mexico and the pigs, of course,
Speaker 2 00:26:36 With what used to get me. One of the thing about Ireland and here we used to get Hammond sent over at Christmas from Ireland, wrapped in newspaper,
Speaker 0 00:26:46 Go for the post office. Good times, good times.
Speaker 5 00:27:05 You're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. If you're new here, or even if you're not, and you want to keep up with all that's new and fit to broadcast. Well, why not subscribe simply go to the bottom of our [email protected]
and pop your email address in the space provided one complimentary click later, you'll be on the list and notified of each fresh podcast. We'll be back with the gang from Leeds Irish center in a moment, but first the plastic pedestal. Well, I asked one of my interviewees to name a member of the diaspora, a personal or cultural significance to them this week, the performance poet, Sue, Andy, and a pedestal with a difference.
Speaker 0 00:27:47 Oh, that's really hard. Well, people just say Maya Angelou. No, I don't think I have one truthfully. I don't think I can come too much. Honestly. There isn't public Dacula people. I could say collectively, I leave now. I would struggle. I think because I'm such an odd character and not particularly, and I'm not trying to be modest here. Not, I'm not a particularly good person. I think I have the knack of reading people. And I think when I know I can meet someone, I decide right away whether I like them or don't like them. And sometimes I say, I don't like them. And I do. I think I was wrong. Not cite them. Then they do something. Oh no, I was right. I think I read people very well, particularly in, in when I'm working, you know, I'm partnered with somebody, um, and you know, 90% of the time they're going to be white.
Speaker 0 00:28:56 And I read how I've got to behave. You know, the mask that Myra Andrew talks about, we wear the mask. I work with people, nothing. I I've got to handle this person, careful, that naive, particularly on race. Um, I've got to be ready for them. Say some it's going to be out of order and I've got to be ready. How do I correct it? Cause this is the only opportunity they're going to have to be corrected, you know, to me. Um, and some days I don't do it very well and I snap. And of course I am the aggressive black woman and think I'm like a shopper and a shopping complex. So there are these range of people and each of them offer something
Speaker 2 00:29:44 That I admire me and, and who I trust and who I can go to for it. And the rest of them,
Speaker 5 00:29:57 Sue Andy there. And if you want to hear more of what she's got to say, and frankly, why wouldn't you then go to the [email protected]
or find her interview on Spotify, Amazon, or Apple podcasts. Now back to Leeds and Irish center, chairman Liam Thompson describes how his career started with a spot of borrower.
Speaker 2 00:30:19 About 1983. I was bounced off here and I must admit it was a bit of an accident, um, of how I got the job here. I, I probably had too much to drink one evening. And, um, Christine <inaudible>, who was the manager here, who's been here for two years longer than Tommy, 47 years, um, came out from behind the bar and I must've fallen asleep. I go to my detriment. I fell asleep. I remember him tapping me on the shoulder and waking up. And there's nobody in the room, Pat from me and him. And he just looked at me. He says, now your money, wouldn't you be better to stop behind the bar and in front of this, sleep on a chair. So I went, Oh yeah, certainly Christie he'd give me a job, give me a job. He says, I will give you a job if it's next Friday, you'll come in here.
Speaker 2 00:31:02 Seven. O'clock make sure you're in there. So Friday night I turned up, goes into the game room, pair of jeans and a shirt. So I walked into the ballast and you still are honest about the job. You're going to give him a job. He went, yeah, come on, go down them stairs. I walked down and it was a full dinner dance in a dance people. So it unbolted and all the bass stuff in black and white Dickey balls and everything. And I am independent jeans and a tee shirt. He said, now you've learned your first lesson, ask what job is, but you're always going to get less near that you told me. And this is, this is like a, it's a lifelong obsession. Tell me a little bit to that. Is it becomes, it's something that never leaves you. Um, it, you know, that's what it's always been able to me.
Speaker 2 00:31:47 How old were you at the time? Oh, I'd be 22, 23 at that time. And what were you doing before then? I was, I was at school and, and, and college and things like that. I was, I was actually working for George Wimpy's on the buildings I was doing. I was in the offices, but this was, we used to come out here on a, on a Friday night, Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night. You were, you were here. And this place was the 10 deep at the bar Friday night, Saturday night. And it was, it was the only place to go. Really. You had to, if you ride a shout to be here, at what point did the Irish center in Leeds kind of take over your life? Uh, I think when I became bast, I felt it takes over your life. If I'm being really honest, because we've got, we've got bass staff that here now you lunch, you know, 19, 20 years of age, uh, my, my own daughter works at university of Alberta back in December. She'll be back here, absolutely adore the
Speaker 4 00:32:40 Place, the Adar, the atmosphere, the adult, the crap they have with, with, with everybody that's here. It becomes lifelong friendships. The people who I work with in the bar here are lifelong friends. I still talk to them. We still meet. We still go out for drinks. We, you know, w we, we, again, that friendship and, you know, tell me, you know, as a manager at that point, my manager at that point, and now as it stands, we work as a great team together and Christie and Tommy and Julie and Marianne and everyone that feels as a staff would a team. It's not, it's not a lemon or
Speaker 0 00:33:14 <inaudible>
Speaker 4 00:33:19 Pick up move. I mean, absolutely Christmas here. There's, there's, there's normally a Christmas, uh, gentleman's lawn chair. So there'd be 460 at lunch in the list. Last year, there is a quarter of a million pounds. What the w we've got to turn this room around in an hour. So we have to get 460 guys and ladies that are drinking any giant cells out here, clean the room up and get another party in. And between everybody from committee to bass staff, anybody, friends, anything we'll come in and everyone helps turn the place around because that's where it's like, everyone just has to dig in and help.
Speaker 0 00:33:54 Yeah. Tell me, you've been here 45 years. I mean, so obviously Christie's got the record at 47 years, but you've been there for 45 years. Yes. I've been here for,
Speaker 4 00:34:06 I was, I was there opening night in 1970 as the compare. Yes, I once and I stayed for about 15 months and then I left then, because I said I was working out of town and three kids a month in another, but I came back in 1975 then as the manager. Yes. So, um, yes, it has been a tough thing to always been an easy to hide by no means. But as I said, my, myself and Chris worked together as a team and we always set, we always set up benchmark fairly high and we will look, I think we went ahead of our time. You know, we'll be just ahead of the posse all the time. And as you said, they're talking about the boys that and Liam, and then behind the, uh, we had, um, you know, DJs here back in 1980, you know, when DJs at the time was thought to be something else, but that encouraged the younger generation of Irish people to come along, as well as show bands. You had, you had your disco as well. And that's what encouraged at that time. You know, I would say between 1981 and 1995, that would be your absolutely, uh, pinnacle years, uh, because you had both youngsters and all the people together. And, uh, it was great. It was, you know, it wasn't always easy, but we had a passion for the place and we wanted it to succeed and we made it succeed and we booked time for it. But you know, a not complete, well, 18 months ago, we did a, uh, for,
Speaker 2 00:35:38 For Damien, unfortunately that's Tommy's son died when he was 20, when he was a verge of a heart complaint. And we did a, we did a fundraiser here just to raise some money for, for, um, for the hat heart unit. And we invited all X pass stuff back there with were people that came through the door. We, we, we thought we'd make it a success with it. We're not, it was stolen. One that told me that I was stood with the doctor who was, who had asked, could we raise some funds for them? And as I'm still doing with the buyer, Tommy got onto the stage to say some bits and pieces. And the doctor said to me, if he's got a couple of grand out of this world, I went, um, I think you better get your catalog out. I think you're going to get a bit more than that because he wanted 14,000 pounds for a piece of software in like three days. So it mean that it needs to do so much invasive surgery. So we raised 20,000 pounds. So this is what it's like here is, is that the X-bar staff treat this as, as, as that home and they'll walk through the door and they've never left. And that's what it's like with, you know, you're saying there about what keeps you here. This is, this is something that each account scratch. And that's what it's about this place. It's not
Speaker 3 00:36:49 Interestingly in the book. We, we do have some famous names talking about what the celebrity, what the center means to them. And, um, one of the, uh, names is Gabby, Logan, uh, who was Gabby, Yara, she's, you know, the sports and TV journalist. And she's done that. She wrote a piece, it was lovely. Um, and, uh, I also got home mom to write a piece and her mom's sad, Christine, her mom said we always fell. Okay. When, when you, the kids were down here because we knew it was safe. And, um, and I think that's nice. And Gabby talks about, you know, great piece, really. Like she talks about coming down as a teenager, you know, romantic shenanigans as a teenager. And then of course she was misleads Rose of Tralee. Was it misleads, Amish, Yorkshire?
Speaker 2 00:37:46 No. <inaudible>.
Speaker 3 00:37:51 And, uh, just, you know, how really Gabby and Chris miles both say the Irish sons helped shapes by future as thickness Nathan cancer pays mazing tribute, I'm Brendan shine to say the sense of help them in their very early days.
Speaker 2 00:38:11 Yeah. I mean, as I said, I would say about Nathan KA, we were here the first night you played him, um, you know, 16, 17 year old lab. And there's probably 10 people in the, in the games room, my team. And afterwards, I sat down with him and talking to him, you know, cause he looked a bit this out with the pilot. And I just, I said to him, he said, I fucked him. Our people went lucky. It's a star. It's just a big step. You,
Speaker 4 00:38:36 And he says, this will work out really just, I said, trust Tommy and trust the guy called Nikki Jim. And along the way, Nikki, our son Rose an awful lot to Nicky, but just trust the mustard, follow what they're telling you to do. You'll you'll get places. And then after a little while of playing in the game room and the game was getting fuller and fuller, I just love to get on the big stage and the big side of the house. And then he got on the big stage and he was, he was there playing on these on the big stage. And to be honest, looking at one guy and the size of asteroids is a bit lost. So then he got abandoned behind him and it was just like, cause if it was stages to some of career succeeding and now you look at him, he's playing arenas, you know, houses of people and like say he's done a lovely piece for the, for the book. And it will stay. Tommy gave him the specified gigs that men, he could buy a van instead of going around with his grandma, putting, putting the speakers in the car so that that's it. And we've helped people along the way. And that's what it's about is helping some on the way and then never forget. That's where it starts at the grant thing.
Speaker 4 00:39:40 I was going to go to Sharon. Um, were there any stories that you had to miss out?
Speaker 3 00:39:44 Um, no. I think we did li we filled out, we asked her to swear word Maybe
Speaker 4 00:39:58 Was that yes.
Speaker 3 00:40:01 To use the fruits you word. And when we actually out to 'em, we're just, asterick stick it out. Yeah,
Speaker 4 00:40:07 Yeah, yeah. That's the only thing left out. Was there a favorite story then?
Speaker 3 00:40:13 Do you know? I, some of them make me laugh. Some of them are fine, quite touching. Um, I, I like Chris miles account again, Chris happily wrote a very affectionate piece about growing up, coming here as a child, right through his childhood teenage years, how we used to watch DJ Joe still active in the sunset and he loads and loads. Uh, Joel was, he called him, as I said, Joe would say loads and loads of music, loads, and loads of food. Don't switch the sausage rolls yet. The buff is not open. Um, uh, but Chris and who knows how that show Chris's career. So that made me laugh. I loved, I mean, a lot of there was this story when the King just really before the made it big and Tommy, Tommy, do you want to tell the story?
Speaker 4 00:41:08 Well, yes. I mean, no issues. I mean, I didn't know them from Adam at the time. And then one of them came up to me now and he said, can I borrow your phone? I said, can I borrow your phone? He said, I want to, I want to ring my mother. And I'm a thought when your mother must be in Ireland, you know, obviously, you know, and he said, no, I said, mother
Speaker 1 00:41:34 Manchester. Oh. I said, I have no problem. So of Pico, I said into the office and Emily's phone call to a smoker in, in Manchester. Yeah. There were, there were different. But the question is I was getting asked. The question is I was instilled in other clue, but, um, so you got a band with a play there for seven pounds and then the back end called a scene. So you wouldn't get them for 200 pounds, seven pounds, seven pounds, seven pounds a ticket fall. It was the question when itself what's all this store of people will say, so the, the, the brothers came in, Tommy, Tommy, can we use your phone? We need to let mom know we've got hair. So it's like, obviously crossing that very dangerous. Sam 60 let's go from Manchester to Yorkshire. So the question gets asked, which one was that? He said the one very nice, polite lunch, very nice.
Speaker 0 00:42:38 <inaudible> you all listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora, follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. The Leeds Irish center has served its community through two generations through the troubles and beyond I asked Sharon Liam and Tommy, what changes they've seen this section starts and ends with Tommy?
Speaker 1 00:43:04 I think that, I think from my perspective is, is that, uh, obviously the people that this place was built for 50 year ago when the mid twenties and now 70, 75 and 80, and sort of moved out to the equation and you are now looking for the next generation and second generation, uh, which is not easy because there is so much of them to go, uh, leads, leads. As I said, back in 1988, there wasn't much around for young people. And that's why the young people came towards on a Sunday night. And today. Now every second place in the town is, is, is a bar or cafe or whatever. I think things have changed very, very much. Um, we fill out the young people, the parents that, that have got kids doing Irish dancing parents, that they've got kids coming to them to the kilter, to the music lessons. You still have that type of thing, but they, young, young people is very difficult to, to, to get the young people in like what we did when, um, Liam was on the boat. One thing I will say, though, somebody is when the lockdowns happened. Now the, when it opened up again in July, it's like a bit of a change. Isn't it? The of,
Speaker 2 00:44:32 Because they weren't happy going into town. They want it, it's a bit more security. It's become a lot busier in that sort of respect. People saw. Some people that were, would be sporadic have become regular in that song where they're becoming a lot more because they feel safer here. Um, and that's what you've got to do is you've got to welcome him with open arms and, and, and ho you know, that, that have a knock-on effect in, in the years to come. We're very confident. We're looking, we're looking at other Irish and out lucky we're looking at we've had without great management and without good committees. And we're financially sound. And we we've got forward thinking when we're never, we're never looking back. And that's my seat sort of mentality. You know, the Leeds in the Irish haven't changed. Um, the world's changed. Um, we've stayed the same.
Speaker 2 00:45:25 We're still still the same nature. Um, we're still, we prefer to go out and enjoy ourselves as exome and look at for our Wells. There'll be really honest. We're not, we're not an introvert bunch of people. Um, Irish are here for the crack and you only got one at this and that, to be honest, whether you be a doctor or you're digging the roads, you're the same person when you walk through any, any of our, any of our doors. And the thing of the thing about the people is, is that they're out for a bit of fun. That's what the Irish people want. And this is, that's the hard thing about, about COVID at the moment in time is the fund that the one the cat get to, um, works are not calm, but we are confident. I'd say that when this finishes, I think people just gonna want to enjoy themselves an awful lot more.
Speaker 2 00:46:08 I think, I think this is like a sea change. If I'm being really honest in, in, in people's attitudes of they've looked at the firewalls for 12 months, and now that the, the one, the B you want to be out with people. So I think the Irish haven't changed. I think the world's changed, but from, from our point of view, is that the, the Irish population that, that scene leads is, has got all of that as Tommy alluded to earlier on, um, we don't have as many of the people who wants to come to, you know, the, the, the formal dancing sort of thing. But the fact is is that if the, want to do with that sort of thing, we're here for we're here for them. Um, it's, it's a pleasure to see the crosshairs groups from, from the, from the cultures, from the young kids.
Speaker 2 00:46:51 Um, and even the Irish dancers from like two and three years of age, doing Irish dancing, um, up to the, the, the lady that's on the book that the front of the book cover, who was a world champion, Irish dancer. It's that thing that it's always evolving. It's it's instead of it being, um, let's say, you know, let's say it's a granddaughter that we're seeing. It's that sort of thing. It's not it's. This is here for every part of that family. And not just for the Irish families, this, this Irish center is here for the, for the people that live around here as well. We, we have a lot of indigenous populations that are part and parcel our central and fantastic parts of our outreach center. We, we, you know, we're, we're open to everybody, but we look after everybody and there isn't just an Irish community.
Speaker 2 00:47:39 It is a community. And that's, what's the best thing about it. We're, we're one of the best parts of the community around here is these four walls in this building. And everyone knows to look to us if they need help, like, like alluded to alone, whichever it is and things like that. But there's that shadow. I mentioned earlier about the food for the Simon community that just didn't happen. Uh, you know, for the people on the streets. Well, lockdowns been on, that's been going on for years. Something that the adults shout about here, they never have shouted about this. There's so many things that happen here that, that we do in private. We don't need, we don't need plaudits for it. We don't need, we don't need pats on the back. It's just something that's the right thing to do, because we're here to help. And it's to look after not here to not have to take the money over the bar. And that's the end of the start. It's not like that this, this is a community and where it's a community we're proud of. And it's an Irish thing we're proud of. And I'm absolutely proud of everybody in here,
Speaker 1 00:48:33 Liam. I think that's been part of our success is, is that the local people know are true. That then the NOAA to value that they know what we've done. And that's why when dope was sent at about the bad times. And I remember sitting out in the, uh, in the car park in, in 1976, waiting for the place to go up. Uh, and you know, the police saying, we've caught a message. It's going to go tonight. Uh, you know, you couldn't believe that. And, and it just, you know, couldn't believe that this would happen in Leeds. And,
Speaker 2 00:49:08 But the thing about it is, is that the nurture of how we fit into community, not, not, not create a, you know, a firewall around it and it's secure, but you look at like when we were 50 and we put the stuff on the, on Facebook, one of the neighbors made a handmade car. Didn't then brought the cat across towards a neighbor. That, to be honest, when people leave here, that can be a bit noisy or, you know, that sort of thing, but because they're respect tools and respect the place, and we respected them all the, like there couldn't wait to bring a card over. And it was so touching. I haven't made cats. We brought together for us. And that's what it's about is where, where does equal part of this community as a community, as part of those. And that's what the pleasure of this place is.
Speaker 2 00:49:51 That's, that's the, that's the age, probably our cat scratches is finding what that little, little sauce is. Other places have lost it. And unfortunately we lost the Irish sent us. Then that's what we, we live a bit to that point in that Godwin where we're so fortunate in what we've done and how we've done stuff and how, how adaptable we've been. And for, for a mum that, that that's, that's there, Mr. McLaughlin, and the few years on the club that he's got, it could wind him back another 40 years. We'll be, we'll be all done. Cause we let's see four years in front of us, but we it's what the fact is, is that a new idea every day is, is something that I, it comes up with an, I must admit it. Sometimes he walks in, he says stuff and you think, Oh, God, more work for his book.
Speaker 2 00:50:33 You know what you get on with it and you do it. And he's doing something now in regards to, to, to food parcels for people for Christmas, which is fantastic for people that are less fortunate themselves. And again, something not being shouted about, we're just going to do it, we're getting on with it. And we've got a plan. And, and this is a, is, is it's about everybody touching out to every part of the community and you don't have to say lean to hydro center on everything. What it has to say is my belly's full because I got food from somewhere.
Speaker 3 00:51:00 I think, you know, the youth thing 200 years is not a long time in history, is it? And you know, um, I've got, uh, my, uh, my great, my, my family came over from the farming onwards and it was even tough when that came over, you know, and yeah, uh, in the genealogy I've done in the 1870 census, which would have been the first census. She was here. It, she couldn't write, spell a surname, but she was widowed and had four kids to bring up. And she lived in a yard, uh, in Wakefield or the people from Lee trim. And you think life is tough and a lockdown is boring. It's annoying. And all that life is tough for lots of people in lots of ways, but they had it tough in the past far worse, I would say to be honest, and you just have to get on with it.
Speaker 3 00:52:00 You know, my own name was university bright, as I say, very clever. Um, heart's work in the middle of 13 and they've walked the path. So we compare where we are now today. Um, well I'm houses, good social life, good friends pay the bills most, you know, most of us. And I think we thankful and I think, you know, and, and I think the beauty of the sensor is, um, it pays tribute to the past. It doesn't forget it are at Russia, but it also looks forward. And you know, the attitude here and I think it has great attitude is anyone who wants to get on Goodwill. So them, and you know, if you've got links to the sun, so that's great. We're proud of you.
Speaker 2 00:52:49 Hmm. I mean, you're not about that about people's struggles. I mean, Tommy's struggled with them as my, my father died when I was 13 years of age. So my mother was a widow at 48 years of age and just got on with it did not, you know, no polar me, um, the community rallied rounded and, and she got some help from community staff with, but then it's that resilience that, that, that, that, you know, you've got to get on with it because that's what it's about. And that's what the Irish community is about. And that's Tommy, Tommy, I'll tell you that the same with him, his father died when he was young and it's, it's, it's, it's that, you know, the strong women. That's the good thing about the high risk center. The strong women have helped everybody in here, uh, um, um, behind every strong man is a strong woman and that's the truth. And that's the Irish strong man. There's a strong girl.
Speaker 2 00:53:47 You're grateful for the, the natural nurture that was, that was given to us. And now we can pass that on to this. Yeah. And you, you know, yourself coming, your family's the same. My family's the same. It's, it's not that there's something different about, about the nature and nurture that. We've got it. Doesn't just look for what's in it for me, it's, what's in it for everybody and what can we do and how can we do it? And that's the right way to bring people up into that. So that's what it should be about. I've got one final question. And basically what I'm going to do is ask you, I mean, normally when I went up, when I finish these interviews, I asked me what it means to be a member of the RSDs for us or them and things like that. But I think because we're being specifically about the, uh, about, uh, about the leads our center, I'm going to ask you for three words, each three words that describe what the center needs means to you. And I'm going to start with Lee MFMA, um, crack phone, happiness, Sharon resilience. Caring finally told me it's my life. Perfect. I'm going to cry.
Speaker 0 00:55:15 You've been listening to the passing podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora with me, Doug Devaney, and my guests, Sharon Boyle, Liam Thompson, and Tommy McLaughlin of Leeds Irish center music by Jack I, the book 50 years in the making can be ordered online by emailing [email protected]
, and is available for 20 pounds. Hollaback as 10 counts, piggyback plus postage, the plastic podcasts are supported using public funding by arts council, England.