The Irish Diaspora in Leeds
Leeds Irish Health & Homes
Photographs by Corinne Silva
Emigration is a common theme throughout Irish history, one that has
touched almost every family in Ireland. Until recently, thousands found
work in Britain's major industrial centres. For a large proportion of people
leaving County Mayo in the west of Ireland, the Yorkshire city of Leeds
was their chosen destination.
Today the Leeds-Irish population measures around 20,000. Although
Ireland now enjoys a booming economy, for many Irish in Britain
a combination of family ties, economic dependence and prolonged
absence means that whilst Ireland is still 'home', the imagined
permanent return is often an impossibility.
Róisín Bán (pronounced Rosheen Bawn) refers to the floral symbol of
Yorkshire, the white rose. By contrast, Róisín Dubh, the black rose or dark
maiden, was an allegory for Ireland used in poetry and song during times
of persecution when it was considered too dangerous to openly express
In March 2006 Leeds Irish Health & Homes launched the Róisín Bán
book and exhibition - the culmination of two years work. Through the
lens of photographer Corinne Silva, Róisín Bán explores and celebrates
the Irish community living in Leeds and their ties to Ireland. Silva's
images accompany frank interviews describing the peaks and troughs
of being a part of an 'invisible minority', the global Irish diaspora.