Screening: Michelle Deignan ‘Breaking Ground: the story of the London Irish Women’s Centre’, at Belfast Film Festival


A documentary film made by an all women crew about the London Irish Women’s Centre, a radical organisation in London from 1983 – 2012.

The London Irish Women’s Centre was an organisation founded in the early 80’s by some exceptional Irish women to represent and support generations of Irish women in London. What was remarkable about the women involved was their commitment to creating an alternative cultural and political space for women to be Irish.

“Breaking Ground: the story of the London Irish Women’s Centre” charts the context within which the organisation began in 1983 and it’s work over the next 29 years up until it’s closure in 2012. There are 18 interviewees in the film all representing different times, situations and perspectives on the centre. Archive footage, photographs and records of the organisation give a unique sense of this alternative Irish culture in London.

The documentary’s narrative is driven by some fantastic music produced by women, a total of 30 different music tracks in all, from 80’s folk to traditional Irish performances and contemporary electronica.

Friday 4 April 2014

7:30 pm

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Interview: Michelle Deignan in Shade



By Emily Franklin

London is recognised worldwide as a multicultural melting pot, and with over 270 nationalities and 300 different languages, it is undeniably fast becoming the home of ethnic pluralism. The term ‘Londoner’ now applies to people of every race and origin, not solely the typecast for Only Fools and Horses. But how often do we stop to think about how London came to be bursting at the seams with diversity? The prospect of assimilating with modern day London society is achievable – the demographic shows us this – but during a less liberal time, how did people manage when hostility met them at every juncture? The answer to this is not only sheer bravery, but also the notion of community.

A new documentary, Breaking Ground: the story of the London Irish Women’s Centre explores the inner workings and undeniable validity of community centres in London. The London Irish Women’s Centre, formerly based in Stoke Newington, played a crucial role in guiding the lives of Irish women in the ’80s; a time of severe racial and sexual discrimination. The director, Michelle Deignan, met with me to discuss the importance and relevance of the film in a modern setting.

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Review: Michelle Deignan ‘The London Irish Women’s Centre: A place to speak their minds’, in the Irish Examiner

irish examiner

By Richard Fitzpatrick

MORE Irish women than Irish men emigrated to London in the early 1980s, as revealed in Breaking Ground — The Story of the London Irish Women’s Centre, a documentary that will be screened next Monday at the Cork Film Festival. The 30-year “feminist collective” closed in 2012.

“The organisation was founded by some amazing Irish women, who mostly came to London during the ’80s. They were radical feminists. This idea of people with a particular desire to assess cultural and gender identity in London, at the time, was really interesting to me as a filmmaker and artist,” says the documentary’s director, Michelle Deignan.

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Screening: ‘Breaking Ground – the story of the London Irish women’s centre’ by Michelle Deignan, at Cork Film Festival



In this revealing documentary Louis de Paor returns to his once adopted homeland to explore the complex relationship between Indigenous Australians and the Irish in Australia.
At the heart of this exploration is the story of the Stolen Generations, mixed race children who were taken away from their families under assimilation policies, and an Aboriginal resistance lead by ‘Shamrock Aborigines’, who saw theirs as a shared struggle against a common oppressor. Weaving social and personal history with poetry, An Dubh ina Gheal (Assimilation) reveals the hidden story of the Irish in Australia.

11 November 2013, 18:30, Gate cinema

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Screening: Michelle Deignan’s ‘Breaking Ground – the story of the London Irish Women’s Centre’

Breaking Ground The Story of the London Irish Womens Centre

The documentary follows an inspirational group of Irish women who chose to create their own artistic, social, cultural and activist community in London from 1983 up until 2012.
The film was made by an all-female crew and is on limited release in Ireland so this is rare opportunity to see this work.

There will be a panel discussion and audience Q+A after the screening.

Tickets are €10 and €7 for unwaged, student or senior citizens. Proceeds from the event will go to fund the work of the Irish Feminist Network and Mind Yourself, a charity dedicated to improving the health of Irish people in London.

The Sugar Club, Dublin.

Tuesday 8 October, 7:30pm, 2013

More info and trailer