www.lookaroundireland.com is launching the Look Around Ireland Trust Forgotten Irish campaign following the broadcasting of a documentary The Forgotten Irish by TV3, which highlighted the unfortunate plight of many Irish emigrants to the UK and the USA.
Many, many young people left Ireland to work in the UK in the 40’s and 50’s because of the desperate economic times in Ireland. The men worked mainly as labourers on building sites and motorway construction projects. The women worked in hospitals, factories and offices, mostly in menial positions, The majority of them settled into a normal life, some returning home to Ireland and some remaining in the UK, where they raised their families.
However, for a considerable amount of those emigrants, life was far from normal. Many of the people who immigrated to the UK had been inmates of Irish institutions where they had been abused and mistreated. They effectively used the United Kingdom as a refugee bolthole to escape from the horrors of the orphanages and schools in which they were incarcerated. They were very young and emotionally ill equipped to settle down and establish a life in a new unwelcoming environment.
They lived out their lives in the lonely isolation of anonymous boarding houses with their only solace being the dubious companion of drink.
Many never married and most had relationships that failed for reasons of constant relocation, as they followed the work opportunities from one end of the country to the other. Many ended up homeless, sleeping on the streets and dying lonely deaths in back alleys and doorways.
Although the TV3 documentary, The Forgotten Irish, focused on Britain, there are many similar stories in the USA as well, particularly in New York and Boston. Here again you have people who slipped through the monitoring processes of the welfare agencies and lived out lives of self-neglect, victims of alcohol and drugs abuse who lost all contact with their home country and relations.
Those who survived are now in their twilight years, impoverished and invisible to the system of care. They live lonely lives, in atrocious conditions brought about by their inability to make some provision for their old age when working. They are the polar opposite to the many noted successful Irish emigrants who made it big in the UK and the USA.
The website is creating an online social network community that will appeal to people with Irish connections all over the world to assist in raising funds.
“This is akin to a Facebook for the Irish Diaspora”, said John Mc Keown, director of http://www.lookaroundireland.com, whose own father was one of the many who left Ireland for England in the 1940’s and who eventually returned home to settle in Ireland.
“In a bid to help the people, we are organizing the Look Around Ireland Trust for Forgotten Irish campaign, an online community network, where we hope to sign up one million people before St. Patrick’s Day 2010. It’s free to sign up, but we would hope that people would consider donating just €1 when joining the Community”.
http://www.lookaroundireland.com has a target of reaching €1,000,000 by St Patricks Day 2010 to give to worthy charities that offer services to these marginalized Irish and they of course would welcome any donation, big or small, in excess of the €1 figure.
The two selected charities are Safe-Home Ireland and the Ireland Fund of Great Britain.
Safe-Home Ireland, run by Dr. Jerry Crowley, is located at the St Brendan’s Village Centre in Mulranny, Co. Mayo. They organize the return of older Irish people to live out their lives in their assisted living centre, to which they are adding an extension to cater for the demand there is from people using the facilities. At present, the organization has 1,037 people on a waiting list.
The Ireland Fund of Great Britain, which is running the Forgotten Irish Campaign in Great Britain, headed by Hugo McNeill offers similar facilities for re-settling people in Britain and Ireland.
http://www.lookaroundireland.com are also actively looking for sponsors to assist with costs and appeal to successful Irish businesses to help the cause, whilst being acutely aware of the difficult times that exist for all in Ireland at present.
Donations can be securely made through the site via Paypal to Wren Innovations Ltd (the websites registered business name) or to AIB Bank Drogheda Branch, Account No: 46579059, Sort Code 93-20-94.