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Bhoys of the Big House
Interviews carried out in Arlington House, the UK’s largest hostel for the homeless in 1997–98. Known as the ‘Big House’ and situated in the now trendy Camden Town, the hostel has been providing shelter to the needy since 1905.
Note from the editor

These interviews were originally carried out in London in 1997–98, as part of a research project on the homeless Irish community living in Arlington House. They followed the successful publication of a report called ‘One Better Day’ in which I had documented the disadvantage of these migrants and their need for support. There was then an opportunity to dive deeper into the history of these men and collect first-hand accounts of their lives, since I had already built up a connection with the community and had begun to gain an understanding of their situation and their outlook. Joe McGarry from the Arlington House Irish Tenants Association, and Alex McDonnell, the Irish Support Worker in the hostel, helped to set many of the interviews up. All of the interviews were completed in Arlington House itself; they were recorded on a cassette recorder and then manually transcribed. Some of the stories were picked up at the time and published by the ‘Irish Post’; and Dermot Healy published another in the literary journal ‘Force 10’, from Sligo. Since then they have been lying around on floppy disks for nearly 25 years. Unseen, until now. [ Jim McCool, Umina Beach, NSW, Australia, May 2020]

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jim mccool
Human-Centred-Design consultant, critical thinker, writer, researcher, storyteller, believes we can work together to find a better way to live.