Irish Association

About Us

With the help of notable members of the unionist and nationalist communities throughout the island, the Irish Association was founded in 1938. Since then the Irish Association for Cultural, Economic and Social Relations has been working to make reason and good will take the place of passion and prejudice in Ireland, North and South.

During the past seven decades, the Irish Association has made a real contribution to the growth of tolerance, reconciliation, mutual trust and human rights; the record of seminars, interactive dialogues and conferences attached indicates our capacity to sustain and develop this contribution.

We are now faced with a challenge to continuously transform and sustain the dynamism to continually recreate platforms and processes to enable new forms of relationships to emerge in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland.

To negotiate successfully this new, critical juncture in the island's history, an impartial forum for dialogue and debate, respected by all, is required. The delicate period ahead of social and political change demands broader and deeper analysis, debate and communication at all levels of Irish society. The Irish Association, with its established reputation of fairness and hospitality to the most diverse traditions, is ideally placed to assist in this task.

The Irish Association will continue to provide as many opportunities as possible to encourage key participants in social and political change to put forward for examination and debate their ideas on the issues that will shape the patterns of life on the island of Ireland in the years to come.

Irish Association - History Ireland Hedge Schools
An example of collaboration

History Ireland is Ireland's history magazine. Collaborative IA-HI Hedge Schools were held in Dublin (May 2013) and Belfast (December 2013) and one took place in the north-west in 2014. These received funding from the Irish Government's Reconciliation Fund.

Aims and Objectives
The Hedge School format aims to bring history alive for today's audiences by providing lively, unfettered debate on topics of interest to national and local communities. In addition to those organised with the Irish Association, other partners have included Belfast City Council, the National Library, local museum and community groups north and south, as well as a range of festivals and summer schools. Event recordings are available on

Civil Society
A major objective of the Irish Association-History Ireland Hedge Schools was to bring together groups in wider civil society across the island by challenging the views of what happened in history, both inside and outside their own communities.