Irish in Birmingham

Image of Judy McGroarty, Daniel O'Donnel and Kate Boyle holding a Donegal flag in front of an Irish in Birmingham Banner
Trudy McGroarty(Activity Centre Co-ordinator, Irish in Birmingham) Daniel O' Donnell and Kate Boyle (Health Enablement Worker, Irish in Birmingham)

The Irish in Birmingham is a charity that provides welfare and cultural services to the community in Birmingham and surrounding areas. Originally from Dungloe, Kate Boyle now lives in Birmingham and works as a Health Enablement Worker for the charity. Her work entails many roles but her main is that of supporting people and engaging appropriate health services they may need, for example, advocating for appointments with outpatient clinics and making informed choices about their care and wellbeing.

Kate herself is a relation of the well-known Donegal singer and entertainer Daniel O’Donnell and he kindly responded to the Irish in Birmingham’s request for some help in promoting the organisation- outdoing all expectations when he arranged to make a personal appearance in June 2012. Daniel is now an Ambassador for Irish in Birmingham, more than the organisation could ever have hoped for.

Like many, Kate’s mother and father left Ireland for Scotland in the search for work and settled in Edinburgh, where she and her sisters were born. The family then moved to Birmingham when Kate was 15 as her father joined her uncle’s firm. While most of the family still live in Birmingham, Kate’s youngest sister has moved back to Dungloe, working as a nurse in the local hospital. Kate has many happy summer memories of Donegal and in particular the Mary from Dungloe Festival.

She notes: ‘loads of laughter and fun with all the family getting together meant you had a ready-made, massive gang of you all going out together (cousins from Birmingham and other friends from other parts of Scotland, England, Ireland and further afield)!’. She also fondly recollects spending time with Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in Acres (Lackenagh) and Sheskinarone (just outside Dungloe) in the Rosses.

The day of leaving filled with tears and waving off until they lost sight of each other was always heartbreaking for the families. Kate explains that the tradition continues today after visits when she leaves her sister and family behind to return to Birmingham. Kate’s own ‘children’ also have strong connections with Donegal and visit as often as they can having spent long summer holidays there too. Her children and their cousins continue the families gathering traditions today.

For Kate no matter where she may travel, Donegal will always remain her home:

‘Donegal has always been and will remain one of the most beautiful places in the world in my mind, a place of astonishing beauty, lovely people and lots of laughter and love-what more could anyone wish for in the world!’.