10 ways to enjoy Irish London
There is no shortage of ways to explore Irish London. Whether you’re here to celebrate St Patrick’s Day or visiting at another time, this city enjoys the craic.
Migration Museum, Lewisham
Start by visiting this museum, which opened in Lewisham Shopping Centre in February 2020. While it’s not specifically about the Irish diaspora, the centre gives Irish migrants a voice. Read first-hand accounts of travelling by ferry across the Irish Sea in the 1950s, watch film clips and see a tea set inherited through generations.
Lewisham Shopping Centre (entrance in Central Square), SE13 7HB | [email protected]
Admission free | Exhibitions Wed-Sun 11am-5pm; shop daily 11am-5pm
Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith
Established in 1995, this centre has a lively events programme, from live music to tea dances. Shows coming up include Réalta, a quintet from Belfast who play pipes, whistles, banjos and a bodhran drum (28 Mar 2020).
5 Black’s Rd, W6 9DT | 020 8563 8232
The epicentre of Irish London is this northern district. The area is nicknamed County Kilburn, as it has the capital’s highest Irish population. Pop into the Sir Colin Campbell for a pint of Guinness and you’ll probably get chatting to an Irish person; the pub’s resident band entertains with traditional Irish folk every Saturday and Sunday night. Kilburn’s Kiln Theatre is showing Pass Over (to 21 Mar 2020), a production inspired by Irish playwright Samuel Beckett’s 1953 play Waiting for Godot. It follows two young African-Americans waiting for change that will never come.
264-266 Kilburn High Rd, NW6 2BY | 020 7693 5443
269 Kilburn High Rd, NW6 7JR | 020 7328 1000
The Tipperary, Temple
Top of the mornin’ to ye! There’s been a pub on this site since 1605, and an Irish one since 1700, making The Tipperary on Fleet Street London’s oldest Irish pub. A solid-oak bar, beams and wooden panelling run through the narrow space, which has shamrock-mosaic floor tiles and antique Jameson whiskey signs. Traditional Irish music tops off the ambience.
66 Fleet St, EC4Y 1HT | 020 7583 6470
Waxy O’Connor’s, Soho
The Gothic interior of this huge Irish pub may have a pulpit and stained-glass windows, but the atmosphere is far from church-like. Sports fans can watch hurling, football and rugby on big screens, while live music is played Wed-Sun. For a more relaxed vibe, visit Waxy’s Little Sister on nearby Wardour Street.
14-16 Rupert St, W1D 6DD | 020 7287 0255
The Porterhouse, Covent Garden
If you think Waxy’s is big, then visit this Covent Garden pub: it covers 12 levels. It wins lots of Irish London points for its atmosphere, especially on Sunday afternoons when a live rock band plays in the basement. It serves stouts and ales, brewed by the Porterhouse in Dublin.
21-22 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NA | 020 7379 7917
The Irish duo Aaron Wall and Ciarán Smith, who previously worked at The Dorchester, opened this bar in Angel to introduce Londoners to Irish hospitality. Vintage photos line the walls and Six Nations rugby plays on the TVs. You can snack on boxty potato pancakes, Tayto crisps and Irish stew. You could even say ‘sláinte’ with an Emerald Collins cocktail, made with Slane whiskey.
124a Essex Rd, N1 8LX | 07801 593015
Michelin-starred chef Richard Corrigan is a great ambassador for Irish London. He’s from County Meath and opened this restaurant near Hyde Park in 2008. Since then, Corrigan’s has won multiple awards and earned a fantastic reputation. Order Irish classics such as oysters and game and try an Irish whiskey mixed with strawberry soda.
28 Upper Grosvenor St, W1K 7EH | 020 7499 9943
Cecil Sharp House, Camden
This dance hall in Camden hosts folk dances and live music. Coming up are Peta Webb and Ken Hall singing satirical Irish songs (4 Mar 2020), while the pianist, singer and songwriter Belinda O’Hooley sings folk (28 Mar 2020).
2 Regent’s Park Rd, NW1 7AY | 020 7485 2206
London Gaelic Athletic Association, Ruislip
This international club, established in 1896, offers traditional Irish sports for amateurs such as hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, Gaelic handball and rounders.
West End Rd, HA4 6QX | 020 8841 2468
Practise your Irish
Craic = fun
The jacks = toilet
Fair play = well done
I’m codding ya = I’m joking
Bang on = correct, accurate
Gat/The black stuff = Guinness
Wet the tea = make a cup of tea
Acting the maggot = messing around
Grand/deadly/fierce = great
Come round for a cèili = visit my house for a chat and cup of tea
That’s a fret = an expression of disbelief
If you’ve got the luck of the Irish and you’re here on the day, read our guide to St Patrick’s Day in London