Irish diaspora

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The Irish diaspora consists of Irish emigrants and their descendants in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and nations of the Caribbean and continental Europe. The diaspora contains over 80 million people, which is over 20 times the population of the Republic of Ireland itself.

There are also large Irish communities in every EU member state as well as Japan, Argentina and Brazil. The diaspora was caused by a number of factors, including political and religious oppression, joblessness, and hunger in a sometimes harsh land.

The diaspora to America (commonly referred to as "Amerikay") was immortalized in the words of many songs including the famous Irish ballad, "The Green Fields of America":

So pack up your sea-stores, consider no longer,
Ten dollars a week is not very bad pay,
With no taxes or tithes to devour up your wages,
When you're on the green fields of America.

Britain

Main article: Irish community in Britain

In Britain the Irish are viewed by some with mixed feelings, due in part to the late twentieth century IRA bombing campaign there. The Irish there have been traditionally been involved in the building trade, since the influx of navvies to build the canal, road and rail networks in the 19th century. During the 1950s and 60s, the Irish became assimilated into the indigenous population. There is now well in excess of one million Irish born residents with some estimates putting the Irish diaspora in Britain at about 20 percent of the population or about 12 million. This is largely due to the flow of immigrants from Ireland during the many famines there and particularly 'The Great Famine' of 1845 - 1850. Immigration continued into the next century, when the numbers of immigrants during the 1950's and 1960's began to increase, many settling in the larger cities and towns of Britain. London once more holds an official St. Patrick's Day which had previously been cancelled in the 1970s because of terrorist activity. Londoners hope that one day they can rival New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade, which is watched by over 2 million spectators.

Europe

Irish links with the continent go back many centuries. During the early Middle Ages, many Irish religious went abroad to preach and found monasteries. Saint Brieuc founded the city that bears his name in Brittany, and Saint Colmán founded the great monastery of Bobbio in northern Italy.

During the Counter-Reformation, Irish religious and political links with Europe became intensified. Louvain in Belgium became an important centre of learning for Irish priests. The Flight of the Earls led much of the Irish nobility to flee to Spain, France, Austria, and other Catholic lands, and many of their retainers and supporters joined the armies of these countries as Wild Geese. A number of Irish aristocrats and their descendents rose to high ranks in their adoptive countries, such as the French royalist Patrice de MacMahon, who became president of France.

Around the turn of the 20th century, a number of noteworthy Irish intellectuals made their homes in continental Europe, particularly James Joyce and later Samuel Beckett (who became a courier for the French Resistance).

Eoin O'Duffy led a brigade of 700 Irish volunteers to fight for Franco during the Spanish Civil War. William Joyce became an English-language propagandist for the Third Reich, known colloquially as Lord Haw-Haw.

United States

Main article: Irish Americans

The classic image of an Irish immigrant is led occasionally by racist and anti-Catholic stereotypes. In modern times in the US, the Irish are perceived as hard workers. Most notably they are associated with the positions of policeman, fireman, Catholic Church leaders and politicians in the larger Eastern-Seaboard metropolitan areas. Irish Americans number over 44 million, making them the second largest ethnic group in the U.S., after German Americans. The largest Irish American communities are in New York, Chicago and Boston. At state level, California has the largest number of Irish Americans. In percentage terms, Boston is the most Irish city in the U.S., and Massachusetts the most Irish state.

Canada

Main article: Irish Canadians. See also Irish Quebecers, Irish Newfoundlanders.

Muah ha ha!

Latin America

In the 17th century, Cromwell sent many Irish rebels into slavery in Caribbean tobacco plantations. Many of the Wild Geese who had gone to Spain continued on to its colonies in South America. In the 1820's they helped liberate the continent. Bernardo O'Higgins was the first president of Chile.

Argentina

In the late 19th century, about 50,000 Irish immigrants were in Argentina. Distinct Irish communities existed, including Irish schools and a news paper, The Southern Cross, until the Peron era in the 1950s. In the 1880's the Argentine government sought to promote immigration from Ireland and sent two agents to Ireland to recruit young and able-bodied migrants. The agents, however, promised more than they could deliver and when 2,000 Irish arrived aboard the City of Dresden ship they were plunged into destitution. News of the scandal, known as the Dresden affair, reached Ireland, and scared away future travellers. Today there are about 500,000 people of Irish ancestry in Argentina.

Che Guevara, whose grandmother's surname was Lynch, was another famous member of this diaspora. Guevara's father, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, said of him: "The first thing to note is that in my son's veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels". On March 13th 1965, the Irish Times journalist Arthur Quinlan interviewed Che at Shannon Airport during a stopover flight from Prague to Cuba. Guevara talked of his Irish connections through the name Lynch and of his grandmother's Irish roots in Galway. Later, Che, and some of his Cuban comrades, went to Limerick City and adjourned to the Hanratty's Hotel on Glentworth Street. According to Quinlan, they returned that evening all wearing sprigs of shamrock, for Shannon and Limerick were preparing for the St. Patrick's Day celebrations. (Scotsman Newspaper, The night Che Guevara came to Limerick, Sun 28 Dec 2003)

Mexico

Main article: Irish Mexicans

Many communities also existed in Mexican Texas until the revolution there, when they sided with Catholic Mexico against Protestant pro-US elements. The Batallón de San Patricio, a battalion of U.S. troops who deserted and fought alongside the Mexican Army against the United States in the Mexican-American War of 1846 to 1848, is also famous in Mexican history. Álvaro Obregón (O'Brian) was president of Mexico during 1920-24 and Obregón city and airport are named in his honour. Mexico also has a large number of people of Irish ancestry, including Vicente Fox and the actor Anthony Quinn. There are also monuments in Mexico City paying tribute to those Irish who fought for Mexico in the 1800s.

South Africa

Nineteenth-century South Africa did not attract mass Irish migration, but Irish communities were to be found in Cape Town, port Elizabeth, Kimberley, and Johannesburg, with smaller communities in Pretoria, Barberton, Durban and East London. A third of the Cape's governors were Irish, as were many of the judges and politicians. Both the Cape Colony and the colony of Natal had Irish prime ministers: Sir Thomas Upington, "The Afrikaner from Cork"; and Sir Albert Hime, from Kilcoole in County Wicklow. Irish Cape Governors included George, 1st Earl Macartney, Du Pre Alexander, Earl of Caledon and Sir John Francis Cradock. Irish settlers were brought in small numbers over the years, as from other parts of the United Kingdom. Henry Nourse, a shipowner at the Cape, brought out a small party of Irish settlers in 1818. In 1823, John Ingram brought out 146 Irish from Cork. Single Irish women were sent to the Cape on a few occasions. Twenty arrived in November 1849 and 46 arrived in March 1851. The majority arrived in November 1857 aboard the Lady Kennaway. A large contingent of Irish troops fought in the Anglo-Boer War on both sides and a few of them stayed in South Africa after the war. Others returned home but later came out to settle in South Africa with their families. Between 1902 and 1905, there were about 5000 Irish immigrants. Place names in South Africa include Upington, Porteville, Caledon, Cradock, Sir Henry Lowry's Pass, the Biggarsberg Mountains, Donnybrook and Belfast.

External links: Irish Police in SA & Research in SA

See also - Biography

Politicians

Obregón's grandfather is said to have been an Irish railroad worker named O'Brian. Mexico's Obregón city and airport are named in honour of the president.
Guevara's father, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, said of him: "The first thing to note is that in my son's veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels". On March 13th 1965, the Irish Times journalist Arthur Quinlan interviewed Che at Shannon Airport during a stopover flight from Prague to Cuba. Guevara talked of his Irish connections through the name Lynch and of his grandmother's Irish roots in Galway. Later, Che, and some of his Cuban comrades, went to Limerick City and adjourned to the Hanratty's Hotel on Glentworth Street. According to Quinlan, they returned that evening all wearing sprigs of shamrock, for Shannon and Limerick were preparing for the St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

Artists and Musicians

Scientists

Misc

See also - Irish Brigade

See also - Causes of Irish emigration

See also - General

External links

References

  • The Story of the Irish in Argentina, by Thomas Murray (1919)