X Factor host O’Leary appeals for funds for Irish emigrants in London

London Irish Centre asks people to contact overseas relatives they have not seen for years

The London Irish Centre’s Christmas appeal seeks funds to help vulnerable members of the Irish community in the English capital.

Social isolation, mental health problems, addiction, family breakdown and homelessness are among many issues faced by some Irish emigrants, with older people being particularly vulnerable.

The centre’s Seán Kennedy said that, for many Irish people in London, Christmas “means loneliness, a long hard winter and, with ongoing welfare cuts, a grim time in 2017. This appeal helps us to provide support and advice services to those in most need.”

X Factor host Dermot O'Leary, whose parents are from Wexford, has backed the appeal. As patron of the London Irish Centre, he said, "I'm very proud of my Irish heritage. My parents were part of the post-war generation of immigrants who came to London to find a new life, so the London Irish community is one that is very close to my heart. We want and need the Irish community to support this important work for the Irish in most need."


For over 60 years the London Irish Centre, in Camden, has been a sanctuary for many emigrants. It provides advice, outreach and social activities and trips to Ireland for long-term emigrants, some of whom haven't been home in decades. The centre is appealing for funds to continue this work. It also reminds people to consider contacting overseas relatives they may not have heard from in years.

Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for many Irish emigrants. This hit the headlines in 2013 when emigrant James Gray (85) from Cork placed an ad in the Irish Post newspaper looking for company over Christmas that year. It went viral and he was inundated with invitations.

Donations to the centre can be made through JustGiving at justgiving.com/londonirishcentre or go to londonirishcentre.org