The London-Irish queer scene is set to be explored during the Dublin Festival of History through the fascinating story of one man’s experience. The festival features a mix of online together with in-person events this year and takes place from Monday, 20th September to Sunday, 10th October, with all events free to attend.
Dublin Festival of History — brought to you by Dublin City Council and organised by Dublin City Libraries in partnership with Dublin City Council Culture Company — now in its ninth year, is playing host to a European, UK, and domestic line-up of speakers and panels. Among the main topics being covered are women in history, the journey to Irish independence, Germany and the World Wars, Northern Ireland, as well as medieval Dublin.
The programme of events features an online talk inspired by the story of Frank Egan from Galway, who emigrated to London in 1975. He became part of the Railton Road community in Brixton, a series of squats that became a nexus of LGBTQ+ art and activism in the 1970s and 1980s London. Many Irish LGBTQ+ emigrants in London found their way to Railton Road, which was also the home of a well-known gay theatre troupe known as the Brixton Fairies. Frank returned to Galway in the 1990s. He died in 2008.
The idea for the talk evolved from an exhibition currently taking place at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. Titled Out in the World: Ireland’s LGBTQ+ Diaspora, visitors to the exhibition and website are invited to share their own LGBTQ+ diaspora stories. Curator Dr Maurice J Casey was fascinated to have found a note written by someone with a family connection to the history charted in the exhibition. The note read, “Frank Egan was my uncle. He left Galway at 15 and lived with the Brixton Faeries. I’m proud to walk in his footsteps as a queer Irish person. RIP Frank.”
For this unique Dublin Festival of History event, Maurice will be in conversation with the author of the note, Tiernan Arnup Egan. Maurice and Tiernan will talk about Frank’s life and the story of his generation of Irish LGBTQ+ migrants. They will also explore the importance of tracing and sharing Irish LGBTQ+ histories, particularly stories told from less-considered vantage points, like those of the diaspora and Ireland’s west.
Frank’s Story: Family Histories of Ireland’s LGBTQ+ Diaspora takes place online on 7th October, 6.30-7.20pm.
Other LGBTQ+ events of interest include:
Lavender Walk: LGBTQ+ History Tour of Dublin.
Join activist and social historian Tonie Walsh as he unpicks the hidden histories of Dublin LGBT life, locating them in the wider development of the capital city, while also highlighting its architectural and social landscape along the way.
This event takes place on 3rd October, 2.00-3.30pm.
LGBTQ+ and Public History
Across the island of Ireland, much work has been done to collect and share the stories of LGBTQ+ lives. This panel brings together practitioners who have worked on LGBTQ+ in public history to discuss their work— from grassroots projects to archives and museums. Speakers include Sara Philips, Dr. Richard O’Leary, and Dr. Maurice Casey.
This in-person event takes place at The Printworks, Dublin Castle, on 10th October, at 2 pm.
All events are free, but booking is required. The full programme details, along with information about how to book are available online here. You can follow the festival using the hashtag, #HistFest2021.
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