Welcome to Irish Heritage

Irish Heritage is a not-for-profit, voluntary, performing arts organisation, established in London in 1974, to promote the appreciation and understanding of classical music and music composed by Irish composers performed by Irish musicians and singers in Great Britain to a wide audience.

It is the only Irish arts organisation in Britain dedicated to helping young Irish musicians and composers in the early part of their careers when their needs are greatest. It now awards three valuable Bursaries annually, one for performance, one for composition and another for vocal studies.

Irish Heritage presents a programme of public events in established music venues and supports other organisations, including the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival that shares its aims in music and the arts.  It has links with the Royal Dublin Society and conservatoires in Ireland and Britain to identify emerging, talented young performers and composers.

The organisation’s values: Creativity, Encouragement, Collaboration, Enjoyment and Inclusivity, reflect the legacy inherited from its founder Ethna Kennedy that it is committed to maintaining and enhancing.

These values are the inspiration for the organisation’s Outreach and Community programme which brings the joy of live music to people who cannot normally access it, to children in education and to those who benefit from music as therapy.

You can support the work of Irish Heritage by becoming a Friend. (See Join Us)

Aran O’Grady awarded 2019/20 Irish Heritage Music Bursary for Composition

Irish Heritage is pleased to announce today (6th March) that Aran O’Grady, who is studying for a Masters in Opera Composition at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, is the recipient of the 2019/20 Irish Heritage Music Bursary for Composition.

The Bursary, which is worth £3,000, was open to young, first or second generation Irish composers studying at recognised music conservatoires and colleges in this country and Ireland.  An encouraging number of entries was received in this the second year of the award indicating the growing awareness of the Bursary.

Twenty-six year-old Aran who is from Bray in County Wicklow, received a BA in Composition from the Royal Irish Academy of Music in 2016 and has already had compositions performed in Ireland, the Netherlands, France and Singapore.

The Bursary which is an important part of the performing arts organisation’s annual programme of collaborations, concerts and recitals, was made possible through the support of The Ireland Funds Great Britain.  It complements the Irish Heritage Music Bursary for Performance that was launched in 2015 and the Brackaville Bursary for Vocal Studies introduced last year.

See news story below for full details.

Picture caption: Aran O'Grady, recipient of Irish Heritage's 2019/20 Music Bursary for Composition




Suspension of Events for April and May 2020

The Board of Irish Heritage has decided to suspend its current calendar of events until the 31st May in line with advice and guidance from HM Government and its scientific and medical advisers.

The events affected include the “Showcase Ireland 2” concert on the 22nd April and the Outreach and Community programme recitals scheduled for the Irish Cultural Centre on 21st April and 5th May.

The status of the two events scheduled for June, the Bursary recipients’ recital on 10th June and the Charity Fundraising Golf Day on the 12th June, will be kept under review over coming weeks.  An announcement will be made about them in due course.

Commenting on the suspension of events Patrick Lennon, Chairman of Irish Heritage, said, ““We are in unprecedented times and facing uncertainty as the Coronavirus pandemic evolves. Irish Heritage has to act in the best interests of our performers and our audiences in line with guidance from the Government and its advisers which is why we’re suspending events until 31st May.

“We are aware of the role our events play in the social lives of the community in general and our ‘Friends’ programme members in particular.  We are concerned that people, both young and old, do not feel isolated or lonely during these unusual times.  If there is anything we can do to help people, we ask that they contact us in the first instance at We will respond as quickly as possible.

“To quote An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, in his excellent St Patrick’s Day speech on Tuesday evening, “In years to come… let them say of us… when things were at their worst… we were at our best.”

Take care and stay safe.

Statement issued on 19th March 2020.

"The Best Ever" Christmas Concert

Irish Heritage’s first bursary recipient Carolyn Holt returns for superb performance

The headline reflects the reaction on the evening and the response received over succeeding days to Irish Heritage’s “Christmas by Candlelight Concert” on Monday evening, 16th December.

The beautiful St George’s Church in Hanover Square in the heart of the West End provided an appropriate setting for an evening of carols, seasonal music and readings that the audience who thronged the church thoroughly enjoyed.

The principal soloist was mezzo-soprano Carolyn Holt, recipient of the first Irish Heritage Music Bursary for Performance awarded in 2015.  Carolyn’s superb performance of “O Holy Night” with the Arb Ensemble in the early part of the concert set the standard for what was to follow.

Accompanied by another of Irish Heritage’s bursary recipients, talented pianist Brian Hughes, Carolyn also sang “He was despised” from Handel’s Messiah and Shubert’s “Ave Maria”

The Arb Ensemble performed a number of choral pieces including “The Three Kings” by Cornelius and “The Wexford Carol”.

There were readings by Cecilia Gallagher, Chair of the Women’s Irish Network and Petroc Trelawny of BBC Radio.  Petroc’s lively interpretation of “The Christmas Dinner” from James Joyce’s “The Dead” was memorable.

His Excellency, the Ambassador of Ireland, Adrian O’Neill read three favourite poems including “Magi” by Collette Bryce which had the audience smiling.

A highlight of the evening was Carolyn Holt’s performance of a new arrangement of the Irish carol “Don Oiche Úd I mBeithil”.  The arrangement by Audrey McKenna, producer of the concert, was dedicated to Ambassador O’Neill, First Secretary Ruaidhri Dowling, and the staff of the Embassy in London to acknowledge Irish Heritage’s appreciation of their support.

In between traditional carols were enthusiastically sung by the audience accompanied on the church’s distinctive organ, the first American built of its type in London, by Polina Sosnina.

The evening finished with an enjoyable reception where the audience had the opportunity to meet the performers and readers.

Highlights of the concert can be viewed on Irish Heritage's YouTube channel:

See news story for further information.


Irish Heritage and Royal Dublin Society celebrate five years of collaboration

Irish Heritage and the Royal Dublin Society celebrated five years of successful collaboration with a concert in the Princess Alexandra Hall in St James’s, London on Wednesday evening (4th March).

Since 2015 the two organisations have worked together to nurture and support young Irish musicians and singers by giving them performance opportunities in London.

Wednesday evening’s audience were entertained by three RDS bursary recipients, Máire Carroll, Amy Gillen and Kevin Jansson; Máire and Amy are also Irish Heritage bursary recipients.

See story in news section for further detail.