First Encounters: Chi-Chi Nwanoku and Keith Pascoe

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-12-20 23:02Z by Steven

First Encounters: Chi-Chi Nwanoku and Keith Pascoe

The Irish Times
2017-05-03

Frances O’Rourke


Chi-Chi Nwanoku

‘Ireland brought us back together’

Chi-Chi Nwanoku is a double bassist and a founder member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. The eldest of five children of a Nigerian father and an Irish mother, she pursued a career in music after injury ended a promising athletics career. She grew up in Kent and Berkshire and now lives in London

The first time I saw Keith was when we were college students in our early 20s. He seemed incredibly composed, confident, like a good fun guy – he had a mischievous twinkle in his eye which I liked. We weren’t in each other’s social circles but I registered Keith as a kindred spirit.

I’d only started playing the double bass when I was 18, after an athletics injury. When I came out of hospital, my A Levels music teacher said, you have music coursing through your veins – now that your sprinting career is over, if you pick an unpopular orchestral instrument, you could just possibly have a career. I’d played piano since I was seven but I’d never played in an orchestra before. A few years later I got into the Royal Academy of Music

…I had been in Ireland just once before when I’d taken my mother there in 1986. She hadn’t been back to Ireland in 36 years, didn’t know how she’d be received: she was born in Cappamore in Limerick, grew up in Thurles, but was kind of abandoned by her family after she met and married my father, an Igbo from east Nigeria, in London. We grew up with lots of wonderful stories and memories that she gave us but she had a very very tough time. In London in the 1950s, it was “no blacks, no Irish, no dogs” – it was as much as my parents could do to find a roof over their heads…

Read the entire article here.

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Being Irish, mixed race and living abroad: it’s complicated

Posted in Articles, Arts, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-12-03 22:06Z by Steven

Being Irish, mixed race and living abroad: it’s complicated

The Irish Times
2017-12-01

Conrad Bryan, Treasurer
Irish in Britain


A scene from Hashtag Lightie, playing at the Arcola Theatre in north London.

London play ‘Hashtag Lightie’ puts the spotlight on mixed-race identity

I live in London, a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. It is a place where anything goes and where people of different ethnicities have always mixed, loved and married.

However, today the binary black and white notion of race is being challenged by the younger generation. They are choosing for themselves where they sit on the colour spectrum and how they self-identify. No longer will they accept other people labelling them.

Many are choosing to self-identify as mixed-race rather than black, which is causing a real debate in the black community here. This has many consequences for individuals struggling to determine where they fit in society, or what side to take…

Read the entire article here.

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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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Tim Brannigan, a real black Irish republican

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-05-29 01:19Z by Steven

Tim Brannigan, a real black Irish republican

The Irish Times
Dublin, Ireland
2016-05-28

Fionola Meredith

When Tim Brannigan was born his mother persuaded a doctor to declare him a stillbirth. Then she gave him to an orphanage – coming back a year later to ‘adopt’ the son she couldn’t admit she’d had. After that he had a normal IRAsafe-house childhood

When Tim Brannigan was 19 he found out who he really was. Growing up as a black kid in 1970s west Belfast, he already knew he was different. He had been adopted as a baby, he believed. But it turned out the person who “adopted” him was his own mother, Peggy. As he tells it in his memoir, Where Are You Really From?, it is an extraordinary narrative of secrecy, desperation and deep, unbreakable devotion, played out against the flaming backdrop of the Troubles. So perhaps it isn’t surprising that Hollywood can see its cinematic potential. Brannigan recently sold the film rights to his life story to the Oscar-winning producer John Lesher, and scripting will soon be under way.

“Mum told me everything on July 13th, 1985,” Brannigan says. He remembers the date clearly because it was the day of Live Aid, Bob Geldof’s televised music fundraiser for famine relief in Ethiopia. The family had decamped to an uncle’s holiday house in Cushendall, Co Antrim, to escape the Twelfth parades in Belfast. “The drink was flowing, and my mum was sitting there with a glass in her hand,” says Brannigan. “She started asking me what I wanted to do when I got my A levels. Suddenly she said, ‘Your father was a doctor.’”

That didn’t make sense. As far as Tim knew his adoptive father was Tom Brannigan, a delivery man and sometime showband singer, whom he describes as a chancer. “He had plenty of opportunities to fly his kite, and he did.”

“Get ready,” Peggy said. “First of all, you’re not adopted.” Shocked, Tim began to weep. “Don’t cry,” his mother whispered. “People will think I’m shouting at you. And don’t tell them, or I’ll bust your face!”…

Read the entire article here.

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“I was not allowed any identity at all. That is very, very damaging for the soul.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-07-20 02:06Z by Steven

Nuns told her that “no man will ever want you, because you’re black”; a career counsellor said she should “consider taking man friends” to support herself. “I was told I wouldn’t amount to anything and should consider prostitution,” [Rosemary] Adaser says.

Her black background was vilified and even denied, she says, and she was constantly told that she would never be wanted in Irish society. “I was not allowed any identity at all. That is very, very damaging for the soul.”

Kitty Holland, “Mixed Race Irish: ‘We were the dust to be swept away’,” The Irish Times, July 18, 2015. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/mixed-race-irish-we-were-the-dust-to-be-swept-away-1.2287196.

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Mixed Race Irish: ‘We were the dust to be swept away’

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive, Religion, Social Work on 2015-07-19 16:56Z by Steven

Mixed Race Irish: ‘We were the dust to be swept away’

The Irish Times
2015-07-18

Kitty Holland, Staff Reporter


‘I lived in a state of pure terror’: Rosemary Adaser, co-founder of the group Mixed Race Irish. Photograph: Joanne O’Brien

Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation urged to confront the racism endured by children taken into care and abused because they had a non-white parent

In October 1958, when Rosemary Adaser was admitted, as an 18-month-old, to a mother-and-baby home in Dublin, her admission notes described her as “illegitimate and coloured”. Fifteen years later, when she was pregnant and sent to a mother-and-baby home in Co Meath, they described her as “rather mature for her age; accepts her colour well”.

“My file is peppered with references to my colour,” she says. “The racism was relentless and brutalising. My formative years were devastated by it.”

Adaser is one of about 70 mixed-race people who have come together in the past few years as Mixed Race Irish, a campaign and support group. They believe they were taken into care because they were mixed race, that there was a different unspoken “policy” for them and that they suffered an “extra layer of abuse” because of their racial identity. They say racism was endemic, systemic and systematic, in the care system and in Irish society, and that their experiences were particular to them…

…Like other mixed-race Irish children in the mother-and-baby homes, she was never offered for adoption. She believes this was policy, based on a presumption that nobody would want to adopt a mixed-race baby. Instead she was fostered, or boarded out. “When I was four I was sent to a couple in their 60s. No, they weren’t vetted. They were invited to select a child. People were paid by the State to take in children. This couple had no pension, and I was an income source.

“The woman was vicious. I have a clear memory of fearing the gardening gloves, because she would go and cut branches from the rose bushes and cut the flowers off. She called me filthy and nasty and would strip me naked. I was four, remember, and she would whip me with the thorns. Years later I still had scars on my back, buttocks, stomach, legs, arms and soles of my feet, but not my face,” Adaser says. “The whippings were so bad I was hospitalised. After 18 months I was returned to St Patrick’s.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Christine Buckley helped shift cultural axis on child abuse

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, Religion, Social Work on 2014-03-13 18:58Z by Steven

Christine Buckley helped shift cultural axis on child abuse

The Irish Times
2014-03-12

Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent


From Broadstreet.ie

Those who insist that history is about movements not individuals might reflect on the achievements of Christine Buckley.

Her story is history as driven by one person. She was an original, a pioneer in exposing how badly this State “cherished” many of its children, whatever their age, throughout most of the 20th century, up to 1996 when the last Magdalene laundry closed. If a high point of much of her work was then taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s 1999 apology on behalf of the State to all who had been in residential institutions as children, as well as his announcement then of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Ryan Commission) and the setting up of the Residential Institutions Redress Board, it was not all.

It is no exaggeration to claim that such huge shift in the cultural axis of Ireland, made possible by Christine Buckley, paved the way for the Murphy Commission which investigated the handling of clerical sexual abuse allegations in Dublin and Cloyne dioceses, as well as the McAleese committee which investigated the Magdalene laundries…

…Her own story, as we now know, was in many ways typical. Through its telling she liberated others to do likewise, and not just from an institutional context. Writing in this newspaper in 1997 she recalled: “My mother lived within 20 minutes of the orphanage where I was placed as a child. I never knew it. Nobody seemed to know it. After a two-year courtship she took the baby boat to England in 1946 to hide, to wait and to give birth to her dark secret.

“She forgot to tell my father that she was separated from her husband. She forgot to tell him she already had children, one of them in an institution. Two weeks after my birth we returned to Ireland. My father refused to support her. The following day she placed me with, an adoption agency, vehemently refusing to sign the adoption papers and nobody asked her why.

“Guilt ridden, my father tracked me down six months later in a baby home. For six years he was the pivot of my life until one Saturday he never came back.”…

…Her campaign began after she met her birth mother for the first time in 1985. Three years later she travelled to Nigeria to meet her father. She “told him about my life in Goldenbridge . . . and how I intended to go public about the horrors of that place once he returned to Ireland to meet my children.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Campaign highlights abuse of mixed-race Irish in institutional care

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, Social Work on 2013-12-12 03:22Z by Steven

Campaign highlights abuse of mixed-race Irish in institutional care

The Irish Times
Dublin, Ireland
2013-11-18

Marie O’Halloran, Parliamentary Reporter

‘I was in a class all of my own, beneath everybody else along with the dogs and the pigs’

A campaign has been launched for recognition of mixed-race survivors of institutional abuse who believe they suffered racism while in State care.

Rosemary Adaser and Evon Brennan of the campaign group Call to Action Mixed Race Irish, have 20 members, but believe there are about 200 Irish people of mixed race who were in institutional care here between the 1950s and 1980s.

Ms Brennan, a London-based singer-songwriter, said they were looking at the “colour-specific nature of abuse”. That abuse “has been under the radar all these years” and they want an acknowledgement that “Ireland in the ’50s and ’60s was a racist country”…

…Ms Adaser said: “The key point is that if you were mixed race back in the ’50s and ’60s you were 99 per cent sure of being put in an institution.”

Put into State care at the age of three months, she was in homes on the Navan Road, Dublin, and spent 11 years in St Joseph’s, Kilkenny, where her baby son was forcibly taken from her by the nuns when she was 17.

‘Performing monkey’

“I have absolutely nothing good to say about it. I was the only black girl there, seen as an oddity, treated as an alien, at best a performing monkey, at worst a savage, a savage to be civilised.

“I was in a class all of my own, beneath everybody else along with the dogs and the pigs on the farm. That’s where I was told I belonged.”…

Read the entire article here.

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