The centrepiece of this AHRC-funded project is a specially commissioned piece of drama which aims to disseminate more widely the scholarly outcomes of Liam Harte’s 2009 study, The Literature of the Irish in Britain: Autobiography and Memoir, 1725-2001.
This bespoke play will be the fruit of a creative collaboration between Dr Harte, the Principal Investigator on the project, and Martin Lynch, acclaimed Belfast playwright, cultural activist and artistic director of Green Shoot Productions.
In addition to making Dr Harte’s research findings more accessible and meaningful to the wider public, My country, a journey seeks to respond to a recently-expressed call by the President of Ireland, Dr Michael D. Higgins, to "use the narratives that have been given to us by the participants in migration, and those narratives too from those who have been involved in research, so that we may construct such an ethical version of our Irishness in the present time as is moral and authentic to our people and their lives as lived, suffered, and celebrated."
My country, a journey toured community and cultural centres in Britain and Ireland over a three-week period in the spring of 2015.
The tour was accompanied by an education and outreach programme in selected venues (Belfast, Mayo, Manchester and London) and will also feature post-performance panel discussions, which will allow audience members to discuss the issues raised with the project leader, playwright and cast.
As well as informing and entertaining audiences, the play seeks to enhance the awareness, appreciation and collective expression of cultural heritage among Irish people in Britain, thereby contributing to their confident participation in a multicultural society.
More broadly, this innovative project seeks to contribute to national debates about migration on both sides of the Irish Sea, and prompt questions about what an appropriate ethical response to the arrival of migrants in our times should be.