The Swedish Irish Society was founded in 1949. A small group of Swedish friends with ties to Ireland got together and decided to set up an organisation to encourage cultural links and friendly relations between Sweden and Ireland. Many of them had never even been to Ireland! It’s hard to imagine today how big the gap between the countries was at that time, economically and culturally, and how difficult Ireland was to travel to.
The profile of our membership has changed with the times. Nowadays there are far more Irish people living in Sweden. Our members include Swedes who have an affinity for Ireland or Irish culture, Irish people here for various lengths of time, and Swedish-Irish – families with links to the two countries.
The purpose of the society is still to encourage and develop the mutual cultural ties between Sweden and Ireland, and to strengthen and promote friendly relations between the two countries.
Today the Society also provides a community where new arrivals to Sweden can meet a whole network of Irish and Swedish friends and contacts. It is also a way that Irish people in Sweden can preserve certain traditions among their families, for example Hallowe’en, St Patrick’s Day etc.
Most of our members live in the vicinity of Stockholm, and currently this is where the events usually take place, but we are active online and have members in other parts of Sweden, as well as a handful in Ireland.
The society organises several events during the year, and the aim is to provide a varied program appealing to adults and children. We are also responsible for the Stockholm St Patrick’s Day parade, by far our most high-profile event, attracting well over 1000 people annually. Our program includes social events, pub evenings, talks on Irish music, literature, history and other aspects of Irish life, and we arrange visits to the theatre, concerts and films if there is an Irish interest.
The society publishes an e-newsletter, and spreads news and articles of Irish and society interest via the website, e-mail and social media. It is run entirely by volunteers.