The Irish Society
What we do
The Irish Society’s ongoing activities can be divided into four main areas:
In most years, The Irish Society makes around 100 small grants to groups or individuals in County Londonderry. These are made on a cross-community basis, to organisations or individuals in the voluntary sector, such as community groups, sports clubs and other such groupings, entirely on the basis of need. For instance, in 2010-11 a number of local junior football, rugby and Gaelic clubs benefited, along with youth organisations and senior citizens’ groups, from Ballysally in Coleraine to the Creggan in Derry. An elected cross-party committee of councillors and officers from Causeway Coast & Glens Borough, Derry City & Strabane District and Mid-Ulster District Councils plays the main role in assessing applications and allocating funds.
See the Charitable Grants section for more information; Examples of grants awarded; and Guidelines showing How, Where, When to apply.
The Irish Society has a small number of commercial properties in Northern Ireland, mostly located in Coleraine and Londonderry and which are let to tenants. The income from these is an important contributor to overall revenue. In addition, the most significant assets are the Lower Bann river and its fisheries, and parts of the Foyle system, in which The Society has a direct involvement with regard to fishery management and environmental protection. It undertakes bailiffing and fishery protection on over 40 miles of Northern Ireland’s main waterway and adjacent rivers using its own staff and resources.
See the Go Fishing section for more details, including how to book fishing.
The Irish Society has always had an involvement in the management of schools in County Londonderry and continues to maintain its founder’s links with five primary schools in the County and a number of grammar and secondary schools. It has also widened its contacts by visiting and supporting other schools in the County, such as St Cecilia’s College and Lisneal College in Derry-Londonderry. In recent years, The Society has assisted the Coleraine and Magee campuses of the University of Ulster with support for biomedical sciences students and the University’s unique “Step-Up” programme for disadvantaged pupils from local secondary schools. The Society’s Representative serves on a number of local school boards, and the Trustees keep in touch through regular attendance at prizegivings and support for cultural visits by schools to the City of London.
Learn more about The Society’s involvement in education through Schools & Colleges pages in the News and Events section and special grants awarded under Grant examples.
The Irish Society regards the development of mutually beneficial links between County Londonderry and the City of London as vitally important, and has provided a forum on many occasions in the past for Derry City Council, Coleraine Borough Council, the local Chambers of Commerce and the University of Ulster to market themselves to specific international audiences in the City of London. In addition, The Society has initiated and hosted visits to Ulster by the Lord Mayor of London and other key City officers, during which it has sought to promote local business links to the City.
As well as the activities above, 2013 marked The Irish Society’s 400th Anniversary and coincided with Derry-Londonderry becoming the first UK City of Culture. Special plans were drawn up to mark this in a number of ways. The main project was the commissioning of a new cantata ‘At Sixes and Sevens’ written by Irish poet Paul Muldoon and English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage which celebrates the special relationship between London and Londonderry, and involved not only top class musicians and orchestras but local community groups and young people from both sides of the community. Other projects included ecumenical church services, a series of history lectures and museum exhibitions in London and locally, involving local schools in Plantation of Ulster history projects, planting ceremonial London oak trees, restoring an important damaged historical archive resource and hosting in London’s Guildhall an investment conference for Northern Ireland with a special focus on the North West region.
The Governor, Deputy Governor and Trustees of The Irish Society continue to take a close interest in their historic relationship with County Londonderry and its two main centres of Derry-Londonderry and Coleraine in particular. Members travel to Northern Ireland several times a year to visit The Society’s properties, fisheries and charitable projects, provide support for its schools and maintain local relationships.