Irish Nurses in the NHS

By Grainne McPolin & Louise Ryan

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Since the NHS was set up in 1948 thousands of women and men from Ireland have come to train and nurse in the UK.  


Recruitment drives throughout the 1950s and 60s saw NHS staff travel around Ireland to interview and sign up mainly Irish teenage girls for nurse training. Irish Nurses in the NHS shares the experiences and lives of nurses who travelled from Ireland and helped build the health service over these decades and beyond. 


In this series you'll hear from dozens of these nurses about their motivations to leave home, how they adapted to their new lives in Britain and what their training entailed, including many funny memories as well as some sad ones. 


It will look at questions like what was it like to leave Ireland at 18 and arrive in a new and unfamiliar country? How were they welcomed and what was life like in Britain? This podcast series aims to answer these questions and brings to life the untold stories of Irish nurses in the NHS. 


This podcast has come about as part of exciting collaboration with the London Irish Centre. It is based on research conducted by Professor Louise Ryan of London Metropolitan University and hosted by radio producer and retired nurse, Grainne McPolin


Thanks to London Irish Centre; Irish Government department of Foreign Affairs; Irish Abroad Unit and Burdett Trust for Nursing, Liverpool University’s Institute of Irish Studies and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation for their continued support. 

Please note that the names of some contributors have been changed in order to protect their identities.




Music: ‘Resonance’ by Amala  Reidun Schlesinger & Paul de Grae 

Assistant Production on episode 1: Five Elements Media

Branding & Marketing Kelly Crichton  

Cover Design: London Irish Centre  

Photos by the kind courtesy Bernie Naughton and Noreen Schierz (processed by Fiona Freund).

Studio Pat's Tracks Recording Studios Causeway Co Kerry



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