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On the evidence of this essay the larger study of the Irish in the north-east of England planned by Frank Neal promises to be a major addition to the historiography of the Irish in Britain. Neal recognises the importance of utilising sources other than the census if a fuller picture of Irish communal life is to be drawn, a point which other contributors pursue. One avenue with considerable potential in this respect is suggested by Mervyn Busteed in his chapter on the Irish in Manchester.

While recognising the importance of the census, his principal contribution is the imaginative and creative use he makes of ballad literature to reveal dimensions of Irish cultural life hitherto understudied. Using this data he argues that the residential clustering of Irish migrants was a defensive mechanism designed to cope with latent and overt hostility.

Table of Contents: Writing Irishness in nineteenth-century British culture /

John Belchem's chapter on the Irish in Liverpool also sees ethnicity as defensive, emphasising that it was not a primordial attribute but a constructed identity, and that ethnic networks provided the benefits of security. This study is an explicit statement of the limitations of the census enumerators' books for understanding the social networks of the Irish. Belchem is careful to distinguish between social space 'the locus of ethnicity' and geographical space, which was often shared with members of other groups.

He identifies successful migrants as 'culture brokers', a group which tends to be obscured by aggregate census statistics. The theme of ethnic networks of mutuality is continued by Martha Kanya-Forstner in her fascinating study of notions of Irish Catholic womanhood as revealed through the activities of lay networks in Liverpool, especially the work of the St Vincent de Paul Society.

Members of the Society 'brothers' were men, while two-thirds of the recipients of relief were women. The distinction between deserving and undeserving poor acquired new resonances, the former being the poor who performed their religious duties, with the priest as final arbiter of the issue, thereby extending his influence in the community. Poverty is revealed here as a gendered phenomenon. Given the paucity of studies of Irish women in nineteenth-century Britain, this essay stands out as a seminal contribution to the field.

Recent writings on Irish settlement in nineteenth-century Britain have drawn attention to the small-town perspective, pointing out that significant numbers of the Irish settled in small numbers in towns like Chester and Stafford, where their experience was very different to the migrants who settled in the large cities. In the smaller towns, it has been suggested, the Irish failed to develop all-encompassing ethnic networks and gradually 'faded' into the host society. By contrast, this volume redresses the balance in favour of the cities. There appears to be a growing consensus here that the larger cities of Irish migration in Britain would benefit from the kind of multi-author treatment accorded the Irish in New York R.

Bayor and T. Meagher eds. Besides Liverpool, both London and Glasgow would surely be excellent candidates for this kind of study.

A Digital Journal of Irish Studies

Methodological questions of a different kind are raised by several contributors who make use of oral testimony and autobiography to shed light on the nature and persistence of ethnic identity. Colin G. Pooley's study of a Northern Irish Protestant woman who migrated to London in the s to take up a position in the civil service lifts the lid on an understudied aspect of Irish migration. Using a combination of diaries and interviews with his subject, he concludes that the woman in question assimilated easily into English society.

Such a conclusion is hardly remarkable given the woman's Protestantism and Unionism, but it is all the more significant because of that. By contrast, Sean Campbell reassesses the uses to which Tom Barclay's much-quoted autobiography, Memoirs and Medleys: the Autobiography of a Bottle Washer , has been put as a preamble to his study of the second-generation Irish in England. His reading of this text conflicts with the interpretations of other historians who have read Barclay's testimony as evidence of rapid 'ethnic fade' in the second generation.

This is an area which requires more systematic study, not just in terms of a few selected 'classic' texts. This essay robustly questions essentialist definitions of Irishness and undermines claims that the second generation are invisible and easily assimilated. Campbell claims that at issue here is the definition of what it is to be Irish.

He makes a case for assessing aspects of the cultural production of non-traditional musicians like John Lydon, the Gallaghers and others in terms of a distinctive Irish dimension. However, he finds that Irish migrants are often uncomfortable with the hybridity of second-generation Irishness and consequently actively seek to inauthenticate it. The message seems to be that what might be described as the institutionalisation of Irishness in the Republic can have its downside for members of a more loosely defined Irish 'community' abroad.

It is not only the parameters of Irishness which have changed since the creation of an Irish State. The political economy of Irish migration to Britain since has also changed dramatically for those hailing from the Free State and, from , the Republic ; whereas from Irish migrants had been citizens of the United Kingdom, those who migrated after belonged to a different legal jurisdiction. In an important essay, Enda Delaney assesses the nature of state intervention in the migration process from to , during which time debates in Ireland about the constitutional position of the country led to discussion in Britain about restricting immigration.

The IRA bombing campaign of and the onset of war meant that immigration was now regulated, especially as the Free State remained neutral. Delaney estimates that anything up to , Irish people migrated to Britain during the war years, some two-thirds of whom travelled under Ministry of Labour schemes.

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Tracy, Thomas

Sort order. Tawnya Fugate marked it as to-read Sep 20, There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Thomas Tracy. Thomas Tracy. Books by Thomas Tracy. She fully expects the novel to be ignored by the literary establishment. She has written pages and it was on the strength of these that Penguin bid for the novel at an auction in New York. She has no idea how the book will turn out.


An Irishwoman of about 50, who's lived in England most of her life, comes back to Ireland to explore a divorce case that happened among the landlord class in the 19th century and in the course of tracking it down and thinking about it, she comes to terms - in other words I haven't a clue what happens. With any luck she figures out something about herself as an Irishwoman and as a woman.

She says she owes it all to The Irish Times. Her page autobiographical introduction created a sensation at the time and ensured the success of the book.

The book did well in the United States and, she says, "it's because of that that I've been given this great chance to enjoy my middle age. And what of her future with The Irish Times?