Welcome to Irish Heritage

Irish Heritage is a registered charity, established in London in 1974, whose object is to advance public education and appreciation of the arts, particularly those of Irish and Anglo-Irish music, arts, literature and drama of all genres and traditions to the benefit of the community.

It is the only Irish performing arts organisation in Britain dedicated to helping young Irish musicians and composers in the early part of their careers. It awards three valuable Bursaries annually, one for performance, one for composition and another for vocal studies and a special accompanist’s award..

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 charity’s values: Creativity, Encouragement, Collaboration, Enjoyment and Inclusivity, reflect the legacy inherited from its founders Ethna and Charles Kennedy and are the inspiration for the organisation’s Outreach and Community programme, delivered in association with the Irish Cultural Centre, 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)

Amy Gillen Awarded Gold Medal by RCM


Amy Gillen, who received the Irish Heritage Music Bursary for Performance in 2018, has been awarded the prestigious Tagore Gold Medal by the Royal College of Music for her outstanding contribution musically and in other important ways to the life of the College.

The special award was announced by the Director of the RCM, Professor Colin Lawson CBE, at the College’s 2020 graduation ceremony which took place virtually on 23rd September from the new auditorium of the College’s campus in Kensington.  Amy will be presented with her award by HRH the Prince of Wales at the President’s Annual Visit to the RCM in 2021.

Earlier Amy was presented (virtually) with her Master of Music Performance in Flute degree in which she received a Distinction First Class Honours.

Commenting after she had heard the news of the medal, Amy said, “I would not have been able to do it without the invaluable and generous support of Irish Heritage and the friendship I’ve experienced from all involved while I was in London.”


See full news story below.


Amy Gillen

Irish Heritage Programme of Events for 2020/21 Season - Statement

Online events and bursary prorammes to take place

It is with much regret that due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, Irish Heritage has had to cancel the first half of this season’s programme including the popular “Christmas by Candlelight” concert.

The charity intends to offer a full programme between January and June 2021 subject to government guidance.

While that is the disappointing, there are positive developments.  Irish Heritage is collaborating with the Irish Cultural Centre on its ICC Digital and ICC “Culture Hotline” activities.  The excellent soprano Carolyn Holt has recorded a recital for ICC Digital while seven of the charity’s bursary recipients from the last three years will give recitals for the “Culture Hotline” between mid-September and mid-December.  Full details of how you can listen in are in the news story on this website.

Irish Heritage will offer four bursaries again this season, one for performance, one for composition, the Brackaville Bursary for Vocal Studies and  the special Accompanist’s Award.  Nominations have to be received by 31st October.  Unfortunately, the auditions will have to take place online as the Wigmore Hall is unavailable because of the impact of Covid-19.

The organisation’s collaborations with the RDS and Blackwater Valley Opera Festival are alive and well but frustrated for 2020.

Commenting on the situation, Patrick Lennon, Chairman of Irish Heritage said, “Like so many other performing arts organisations we have to follow government guidance and accept that we cannot organise concerts and recitals with live audiences for the foreseeable future.

“Having become a registered charity in May, we were looking forward to capitalising on that status through our 2020/21 season. Rest assured we will take whatever opportunities that come our way to enable the talented musicians, composers and singers that we support to showcase their talents to our audiences and to deliver our other programmes.”

Statement issued on 18th September 2020.

Second Season of the ICC Culture Hotline features Irish Heritage Bursary Recipients

Season Two of the Irish Cultural Centre’s “Culture Hotline” is the latest collaboration between the Hammersmith Centre and Irish Heritage.

From now until mid-December people who phone into the “hotline” can enjoy a series of recitals by a selection of Irish Heritage bursary recipients and friends.

The recitals which are part of the performing arts charity’s Outreach Programme, feature the recipients of the organisation’s bursary for performance from the past three years: pianist Adam Heron, flautist Amy Gillen and violinist Mollie Wrafter among other talented young musicians and singers.

Click on news story below for full details.




2020 Bursary nominations “the best ever”

Irish Heritage’s Artistic Advisor, Audrey McKenna, who is co-ordinating the adjudication of this year’s bursaries, has described the nominations received as being “the best ever” in her three year association with the charity.

Nominations for this year’s Music Bursary for Performance, the Brackaville Bursary for Vocal Studies and the special Accompanist’s Award, were received from Irish students attending leading colleges and conservatoires across Britain.

A panel of distinguished adjudicators – Professor Colma Brioscú, Head of Keyboard at the Royal Irish Academy; Ms Mia Cooper, Leader of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and Dieter Kaegi, Artistic Director of the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival, co-ordinated by Audrey McKenna, will now review the nominations.

Irish Heritage will announce the recipients on its website and social media channels in early December.