About Us

W.E. Irish' community group is a not-for-profit organisation recently rebranded as it has grown from the 'Bristol Irish Society' which was founded in 1989.

To share with people Irish culture and tradition, beyond the stereotypes. To make people aware of what Irish people, past and present, have contributed to the West of England; To promote diversity in Bristol and to share learnings from the Irish immigrants’ stories, to benefit those now arriving in our City of Sanctuary; To benefit the local economy, recognising that, where there are established St Patrick’s Day Parades, local economies earn £millions.

Even though there are over 17,000 Irish people in the West of England, there are no community centres where the Irish diaspora can meet and celebrate our heritage and culture. The festival aims to bring the sizeable Irish community in the West of England together and to develop a sense of pride in our heritage.

Amelia Dunford - Hon President and Director of W.E. Irish CIC

On a Spring evening in 1989, in St. Patrick’s Church Hall, Redfield, Bristol there was a good turnout of Bristol-based Irish people who were there to find out what was “going on” and to learn more from the organisers of their intentions to bring the Irish community together. With the knowledge that The Federation of Irish Societies (now Irish in Britain) was going to be a supportive arm, it was decided to form a Bristol Irish Society – a non-sectarian and non-politically aligned organisation. The aims and objectives were to improve the welfare, education and social life of the Irish in Bristol and surrounding area; it was to be a focus for events to bring the community together to celebrate their heritage. A committee was formed and within a few months, a launch was held at The Council House in the presence of representatives of The Irish Embassy, Lord Mayor of Bristol and other civic dignitaries. After more than three decades of growth and many successful events, the Bristol Irish Society has decided to widen its reach and is now known as W.E. Irish (West of England Irish). We are excited to share with you what we have planned for 2023”.

Paul Kelly - CEO and Chairperson - [email protected]

Born in Cork, rared in Wexford, also lived in Fernanagh and Dublin. As we know, where the Irish diaspora reaches, it brings positive contributions. The West of England is a prime example. In our region, Irish citizens and their descendants have contributed to all areas of life; working in the private and state sector, as entrepreneurs, in sport and, especially, in hospitality.
We envisage that this cultural festival will be a great opportunity to showcase and celebrate what often gets overlooked, that is what the Irish have done and are doing within the West of England. We would really appreciate your support in this endeavour. Go raibh míle maith agat (A thousand thanks to you)Bron .

Paula O’Rourke - COO - CultureFest Director - [email protected]

As we know, where the Irish diaspora reaches, it brings positive contributions. The West of England is a prime example. In our region, Irish citizens and their descendants have contributed to all areas of life; working in the private and state sector, as entrepreneurs, in sport and, especially, in hospitality.

We envisage that this cultural festival will be a great opportunity to showcase and celebrate what often gets overlooked, that is what the Irish have done and are doing within the West of England. We would really appreciate your support in this endeavour. Go raibh míle maith agat (A thousand thanks to you).

Paul Cunningham CMO - Events Director - [email protected]

Paul and family come from Ballina, county Mayo and a small part of the family from East Lothian Scotland with strong ties to Ireland. Embedded in the South West construction industry you’d find Paul on many a construction site throughout the South West. The aim for Paul within the W.E is to create a home and environment with anyone with connection to the island of Ireland, through community, language, sports and our wonderful culture. My spare time I spend dreaming of Mayo for Sam or traveling the world/Glasgow to watch Glasgow Celtic.

‘Let the people sing, stories and their songs, music of our native land’

Ruth Davies - Finance Director - [email protected]

Info to follow.

Yvonne Dillon - Administrator - [email protected]

Info to follow.

We are always looking for volunteers to join the committee and to help us plan, organise and run events throughout the year. If you would like to join the committee or want to know more please e-mail us (see our Contacts Us page) or contact us on our Facebook. We are always happy to receive volunteers, ideas and suggestions from you.

Brendan Murphy

Born in Yorkshire and lived in Bristol since 2013. Family hails from Belfast, Co. Antrim. I have been involved in the Fringe Festival and W.E. Irish society since 2022. I work in health care and also ceramics.

Teresa O’Brien

My name is Teresa O’Brien. I’m from Co Monaghan.I Came to England in 1972.I’ve enjoyed being a committee member for about 18yrs.Its great to see the organisation going from strength to strength.

Malcolm McDonald

Born in Bristol, father from County Mayo and mother from Cavan. My mother was Canadian originally but also extremely proud of her Scottish roots. Was involved in the first ever Bristol Irish Society committee back in 1989

Photo of Mandy Curno
Mandy Curnow

Born and raised in Bristol. Mother hails from Cork and dad is from Cornwall so regularly travels between the two. Joined the committee 9 years ago and was secretary for five years. Enjoys working with her colleagues bringing the local community together.

Jim O'Brien

Came from Ireland in the late ‘60s, originally from Enniscorthy, County Wexford. Joined the committee five years ago and enjoy being part of the organisation.

Pat and Bernie McGuinness

Both from Roscommon and have been involved with Bristol Irish Society for many years. They enjoy seeing it go from strength to strength with new younger members getting involved.

Join those who are supporting us

We need support to:

We realise that different organisations and individuals will have varied aims for their sponsorship, so we have tiered our ‘ask’ into three areas; however, we are willing to discuss each package with each sponsor. Sponsors may choose to promote specific areas of the Culture Fest, for example, the Parade or the entertainment Fringe or education events.