‘I had to sneak around trying not to be seen’ – What growing up in Ireland was like for three mixed race Irish people

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-10-16 01:07Z by Steven

‘I had to sneak around trying not to be seen’ – What growing up in Ireland was like for three mixed race Irish people

The Irish Post
2016-10-15

Erica Doyle Higgins, Digital Reporter


(Pictures: Tracey Anderson/Getty)

FOR the first time during Black History Month, an exhibition celebrating mixed race Irish has gone on display in the London Irish Centre.

The #IAmIrish Project celebrates diversity, while opening the dialogue on being mixed race and Irish.

As part of the Project and Black History Month, three people told The Irish Post their experiences of growing up mixed race in Ireland

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Black History Month: Lorraine Maher

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-10-14 19:48Z by Steven

Black History Month: Lorraine Maher

Camden Review: Camden’s take on the London arts scene
2016-10-13

Angela Cobbinah


Lorraine Maher

WHEN she was growing up in County Tipperary in the 1960s, Lorraine Maher (pictured) met no other black people and on the few occasions they came into her midst she would avoid them.

“I didn’t want to draw attention to myself in any way,” she says.

“I grew up in a beautiful town full of beautiful people but there was racism all around me. This was the age of the golliwog and the ‘Black Baby Box’ to collect money for starving African babies.

“I knew I was different but my blackness was never spoken about and I spent my childhood just wanting to hide away and not be noticed.”…

…It is this often painful journey to self-realisation that laid the seeds of the #iamirish exhibition she has curated for the London Irish Centre, tellingly its first ever contribution to Black History Month. Opened last week by Ruaidri Dowling on behalf of the Irish Embassy, it is a display of stunning portraits by photographer Tracey Anderson that aims to question the concept of what it looks like to be Irish…

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“The only heritage I ever had was Irish heritage.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-10-08 02:00Z by Steven

“I’m mixed race. I identify as a black woman from Ireland, who is quite pale,” she laughs. “The only heritage I ever had was Irish heritage.” [Lorraine] Maher is aware of her other ancestry, “but it is not important at the moment for me”, she says…

Anthea McTeirnan, “‘Growing up in Ireland I was the only black person’,” The Irish Times, September 30, 2016. http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/growing-up-in-ireland-i-was-the-only-black-person-1.2807492.

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‘Growing up in Ireland I was the only black person’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-09-30 14:28Z by Steven

‘Growing up in Ireland I was the only black person’

The Irish Times
2016-09-30

Anthea McTeirnan


Lorraine Maher, aged nine and today, who is curating the exhibition of photos of mixed-race Irish people at the London Irish Centre in Camden.

A new exhibition in London challenges the perceptions of what Irish people look like

Lorraine Maher’s son Aaron died from cancer two years ago. Aaron, who along with his brothers, Dwayne, Darnel and Rù-ffel, had visited his mother’s homeplace in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, many times and met his Irish family often, was proud to be Irish. Aaron would have chosen to play soccer for the Republic of Ireland, no doubt about that. He was also a fervent Tipperary supporter.

Maher visits his grave often.

“In the graveyard in London, he has his Irish flag and his Tipperary flag on his grave with his St Lucia flag.”

His dad is from St Lucia, and Aaron was proud of his dual heritage.

Aaron’s photograph is on his gravestone, too. “I see people looking at the grave like they are thinking: what has Ireland got to do with him?”

But Aaron was proud of his Irishness, she says. “He had two heritages and both made him proud.”

Even though it is now more common in Britain to use the term “dual heritage” rather than “mixed race”, Maher is not completely sold on the newer description.

“It is challenging because my only heritage is Irish,” she says. “So that is what the conversation I wanted to have is about. For mixed-race Irish people our ancestry, our roots, our blood are Irish.”…

…Maher was never an “immigrant”. She grew up in 1960s-1970s Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, where she was the only black person she knew. After Presentation Convent Primary, she moved to Scoil Mhuire in Greenhill.

“I’m mixed race. I identify as a black woman from Ireland, who is quite pale,” she laughs. “The only heritage I ever had was Irish heritage.” Maher is aware of her other ancestry, “but it is not important at the moment for me”, she says…

Read the entire article here.

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