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Finbar Holian


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Photo by Rosy Marshall

Finbar Holian was born in Galway, Ireland in 1968. He moved to London when he was 19 and has owned and run The Quays pub at 471 Holloway Road since 2000.

“When people came over from Ireland this is one of the areas where people came to settle and get work, and they became part of the local community. There’s still a strong presence of Irish people in this area, they’ve settled down, and now have their own kids who’ve been born here.”

“There was a big dance hall on Holloway Road called the Gresham that was a big meeting centre for Irish people. It was a massive dance hall and the big Irish bands would come over here. This is where you continued your Irish dancing from at home, where you learned to do your jigs and your reels and your waltzes and everything. The Gresham was a place where people could carry on that tradition. It was the king of Holloway Road at the time.”

“You still want to keep your Irish roots, but I have great respect for what London has done for the Irish community and for ourselves just living here.”

“This is a ring which is called the Claddagh ring. Claddagh is a village in Galway where this ring is actually made. It was made to give different meanings – one was friendship and the other was love. I’ve nearly always have a Claddagh ring on my hand, and being from Galway wanted to have one with me when I moved away, and it’s stuck with me since.”

The building that housed the Gresham was originally a cinema. It first opened in 1910 as the Pavilion Cinema and later became the Highgate Empire. The cinema was eventually converted into the Gresham Ballroom which opened in 1959 as an Irish dance hall and was in use as a ballroom for 41 years, closing in 1998. The building remained unused and was finally demolished in May 2001. A supermarket now occupies the site.

Meet the Making Inroads participants

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Participants are listed In order of their location on Holloway Road from Archway to Highbury.