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)

Standing Ovations for Irish Heritage Musicians at Blackwater Valley Opera Festival

The tranquil and beautiful valley of the River Blackwater has returned to normal after the excitement of last weekend’s very successful Opera Festival.

Sell-out crowds enjoyed exceptional musical experiences in elegant venues in the leafy environs of Lismore as the County Waterford town hosted its tenth opera festival.

Among the highlights was the recital given by the recipient and highly commended participants of the 2018 Irish Heritage Music Bursary for Performance.  Flautist Amy Gillen, harpist Tara Viscardi and accompanist Brian Hughes produced individual and combined performances that received two standing ovations from an audience of 350 people in the unique Dromore Yard venue on the afternoon of Friday 31st May.

Michael Alen-Buckley, Chairman of the Festival and a patron of Irish Heritage, presented the three musicians with official Festival certificates in recognition of their contribution.

At the heart of the Festival was a series of performances of Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” in the grounds of Lismore Castle all of which were sold out.  That was complimented by a number of recitals and concerts in the valley’s grand houses, St Carthage’s Cathedral and Church in Lismore and other venues.

Photographed on a windswept terrace at Dromore Yard are (left to right) Patrick Lennon, Chairman of Irish Heritage; Tara Viscardi; Amy  Gillen; Brian Hughes and Audrey McKenna, Artistic Adviser-Ireland for Irish Heritage.  For more images and reports on the Festival please visit,


Kevin Jansson awarded the 2019 RDS Music Bursary

Amy Gillen receives the RDS Jago Award

Kevin Jansson is the recipient of the 2019 RDS Music Bursary. Valued at €15,000, the RDS Music Bursary is the single largest annual classical music award in Ireland and one of the largest in Europe.

The RDS Jago Award of €5,000, the second of the RDS Music Bursary prizes, was awarded to flautist Amy Gillen.

Eighteen-year-old Kevin is currently studying piano in CIT Cork School of Music with Mary Beattie. He will use the prize money to help fund his studies at the prestigious Juilliard Conservatoire in New York where he has been accepted with a scholarship to study piano with Dr Veda Kaplinsky.

Kevin was the winner of three prizes in the 2019 Feis Ceoil, including the Morris Grant Bursary which is one of the qualifying competitions for the RDS Music Bursary.

He made his London debut in April performing in Irish Heritage’s “Showcase Ireland” concert in the Princess Alexandra Hall in the West End.  He receives another London performance opportunity with Irish Heritage as part of his RDS prize.

Among an impressive and extensive list of his other performances are Camerata Ireland, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra and the New York Concerti Sinfonietta in Carnegie Hall.

“We are delighted to award Kevin Jansson this year’s Bursary, he really impressed the judges and undoubtedly is a performer with a very exciting career ahead of him” said RDS Chief Executive Michael Duffy. “Classical music has a strong tradition within the RDS. By backing talents such as Kevin and Amy we are supporting classical music performance in Ireland and encouraging others to reach their musical potential.”

Winner of the 2019 RDS Jago Award of €5,000 is flautist Amy Gillen, who is a graduate of the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin and is currently studying for a master’s in music performance in Flute at the Royal College of Music in London. She has won numerous awards including in 2018 Irish Heritage Music Bursary for Performance.

In the 2019 Feis Ceoil she won the McCullough Cup and the RTÉ Lyric FM bursary of €1,500. Amy plans to use the prize money from the RDS Jago Award, which also comes with a performance opportunity with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, towards the purchase of a new professional quality instrument.

Irish Heritage Announces New Music Bursary for Vocal Studies

£2,500 award for successful young singer

Irish Heritage is pleased to announce the introduction of a new music bursary for vocal studies valued at £2,500 per annum.  The Brackaville Bursary for Vocal Studies as it will be known has been made possible through the generous support of two of the organisation’s Friends.

The new bursary, which complements the organisation’s existing bursaries for performance and composition, is open to first and second generation Irish students attending recognised music conservatoires and colleges in Britain.

The Brackaville Bursary will operate in parallel with the existing bursary for performance and will be awarded to the singer who performs best in the auditions in the Wigmore Hall in London on Thursday 7th November 2019.

See news story for further information.

In addition to the cash award of £2,500 the recipient will receive a performance opportunity at an Irish Heritage event in London and may be included among those representing the organisation at the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival in Lismore in 2020.


Irish Heritage Confirms Two Music Bursaries for 2019/20

Bursaries for Performance and Composition to be Awarded Again

Irish Heritage confirmed today (21st June) that it will award two music bursaries, one for Performance, the other for Composition, during its 2019/20 season.

The Music Bursary for Performance was first awarded in 2015 and already has a distinguished list of recipients.  The bursary, worth £5,000, is awarded to an Irish student (first or second generation) continuing her or his music education in Britain.  Students are nominated by this country’s leading music conservatoires to attend auditions held in the Wigmore Hall in London.

The 2019 auditions will take place on Thursday 7th November before a panel of adjudicators chaired by John Gilhooly OBE, Director of the Wigmore Hall.

The performance bursary also includes valuable performance opportunities among them one with Irish Heritage in London and the other at the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival in Lismore in Ireland.

The Music Bursary for Composition was introduced last year and was warmly welcomed by young composers and tutors.  The Bursary is open to young Irish (first and second generation) composers studying at recognised music conservatoires and other colleges in Ireland and Britain.  The recipient of the successful composition will receive an award of £3,000 to be used in furthering their artistic and professional development.

The panel of adjudicators, will again consist of leading, current professional performers and academics drawn from Ireland and Britain.  The winning composition will be premiered at an Irish Heritage event in London during the season.

The continuation of this bursary has been made possible through the generous support of the Ireland Fund of Great Britain.

See news story for further details.