5 Irish Creators Shaping Culture and Art in Manchester

For St Patrick's Day, Finest pays tribute to past and present tastemakers, creators and innovators, all of who have roots in Ireland.

By Martin Guttridge Hewitt | March 17th '22

Manchester St Patrick's Day

Across the city celebrations have begun for St Patrick’s Day, with a host of major and minor events planned for this afternoon, tonight, and the coming weekend. For proof, take a look at our guide to this year’s best party destinations and cultural hotspots tied to the island across the sea.

It’s safe to say modern Manchester wouldn’t be where it is today without people from Ireland, with more than one third of current residents claiming Irish heritage. The impact of this continues today, too, with several prominent tastemakers and cultural figures able to trace childhoods, roots, or ancestry back to Éire. We’ve rounded up five from the past and present who have helped shape the place we all call home.

John Cassidy 

Manchester St Patrick's Day

‘Adrift’ by John Cassidy (C) David Dixon

Born on New Year’s Day 1860, in County Meath, John Cassidy studied at the acclaimed Manchester School of Art, now part of Manchester Metropolitan University, and is renowned for his sculpture work. Some examples are incredibly divisive in the 21st Century, like his rendition of slave trader Edward Colston, which was among those removed amid the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. Elsewhere, though, his efforts depict less colonial ideas, such as ‘Adrift’, found outside Central Library, inspired by “humanity adrift on the sea of life, depicting life’s sorrows and dangers, hopes and fears.” Pieces are also on display at John Rylands Library, Albert Square, Piccadilly Gardens, with war memorials in Heaton Chapel, Eccles, and locations across England.

Michael McGoldrick

Manchester St Patrick's Day

Manchester’s isn’t lacking Irish musicians, but Michael McGoldrick is unarguably among the most respected. Born in the city, the multi-instrumentalist sets benchmarks for Irish flute, tin and low whistles, pipes, tenor guitars, the bodhrán, cittern and acoustic guitar. And he sings pretty well, too. Rising to note through famed rock outfit Toss the Feathers while at school, between then and now he’s won a BBC Young Tradition Award and Instrumentalist of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, set up the band Flook, and collaborated with both Afro-Celt Sound System and Kate Rusby.

Kerrie 

Manchester St Patrick's Day

No stranger to Manchester’s Finest — we interviewed her with partner and fellow DJ-producer Means&3rd last summer as both launched new record labels — Kerrie has been instrumental in the transition of Eastern Bloc from record shop and daytime cafe to weekend party venue. Among other things, this has helped push club and dance music options that don’t require a full 6AM committal and subsequent descent into oblivion. Unless you want it to. Since reopening, the store has adopted a ticketed model, matching price point with international club talent. Check UK techno hero James Ruskin, who joins her behind the booth on Saturday 19th March.

Kevin McMahon

Manchester St Patrick's Day

Claiming roots among the rolling green of County Mayo, Kevin McMahon plays a pivotal rile in the Manchester Irish Writers collective, which meets at the Irish World Heritage Centre on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month, and welcomes new members. His bibliography boasts a slew of editing and author credits, and in 2018 his play, ‘The Claykickers’ Chorus’, received the Kenneth Branagh Drama Writing Award and a Sylvia Anderson award, the latter recognising standout emerging talent in literature, drama, film, and music.

aalice 

Manchester St Patrick's Day

Aalice is member of the Meat Free crew, who have risen from humble beginnings to become one of Manchester’s most prominent dance music promoters — with nods from tastemaker platforms like DJ Mag and RA, a relentless stream of sold out events and recently announced 20 hour non-stop session for Jubilee weekend. Among several others, aalice is also behind Under One Roof, a party aimed at people with learning disabilities and their carers, creating a genuine safe space with well chosen guest DJs, and raising awareness around the nightlife exclusion often facing this demographic.