RIP Frank Horan

The trustees, staff and members of Luton Irish Forum are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Trustee Frank Horan.  Frank, pictured front left was a founder member and former Chair of Luton Irish Forum.  Current Chair, Tom Scanlon, said “Frank was a great supporter and cultural champion since the establishment of the charity 22 years ago.  He will be greatly missed by his friends at LIF and the Luton community at large”.

Frank was interviewed by volunteer Elleesa Rushby earlier this year who captured his story as part of a collection called Reflections on the Luton St Patrick’s Festival by founder members of the Festival.  We thought it was a pertinent time to share his story.

Frank Horan a former LIF Secretary and Chair, is originally from Partry, Co Mayo. Frank came to the UK in 1955; a journey he commemorated in his poem “The Princess Maud.” It captures the mix of immigrant emotions and gives a voice to a collective but often ignored experience, balancing uncertainty and hope, in hearts already missing Ireland.

After arriving in London at Euston station, remembered as “the biggest shed I’ve seen in all my life,” Frank worked in a number of administrative jobs and found romance at the iconic Galtymore Club. He married in 1960 and the couple’s first child was born in 1961. In those days no new homes were being built in London and it was very difficult financially to buy a house there. Many Irish had to find accommodation in flats or sometimes just a single room - not an ideal space to raise a family, especially when moving to England had been in the hope of better prospects.  Frank settled in Luton, with his late wife Margaret, because he found it to be affordable and inclusive; a place where, “you’d get on with anyone; people of all descriptions.” Frank was one of the founders who helped develop and grow LIF which has developed welfare and support services for the Irish, and contributed to the development of the Irish as a ‘respected’ community. Frank feels positively towards the town of Luton as it was a welcoming place that allowed the Irish community to flourish: “Luton was an attractive employment opportunity. It gave the Irish an opportunity to bring up their family, get married and settle down. I met more people from Ireland here than when I was in Ireland, people from different counties in Ireland with different accents and associations”.

Frank brought with him a love of literature and language which is evident in his own poetry and in the artistic contribution he has made to the Luton St Patrick’s Festival.  As well as bringing considerable support in his time as one of LIF Chairs. He was responsible for introducing visiting Irish drama groups, performing classical and contemporary plays that reflect both the present and past Irish way of life. The Irish love of language and storytelling is a huge part of our cultural tradition, as much as music and sport. Through the visiting plays, audiences can revisit their own past and understand the dramas of Irish life. For second and third generation audiences, these plays are full of the family you might meet on a trip back to Ireland or in often told family tales. In that way, Frank has gifted us Irish culture and helped the diaspora process their own journey and changing identity in a new place”.

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