Irish Diaspora


Figure 1.--Surely Ireland's most famous son in the Diaspra was President Kennedy. An emotional time for the President and the Irish was his visit. Here Irish school children perform a step dancing and singing exhibition, welcoming the President to Galoway (June 29, 1963).

There is no modern country that has lost more of its people than Ireland. The population of every country we know of has increased in the 19th and 20th century. The Irish population today is only a fraction of what it was before the Potato Famine (1840s). The decline is due both to a terrible death toll during the famine as well as massive emigration to the United States and other countries. As a result, there is a huge Irish diaspra arond the world. The term is usully used for the Roman expulsion of the Jews, but the Famine killed or disperse the Irish in huge numbers. [Guinnane] we of no other country that experiencd such a sharp population drop. And even the Irish who stayed in Ireland were affected. The percentage of adults who never married increased from 10 percent to 25 percen of course seriously affecting the birth rate. But the Irish population around the world sored, now nearing 20 times the popultion of Ireland itself. President Mary Robinson in an address to the Joint Houses of the Oireachtas -- 'Cherishing the Irish Disapora' she reached out to the "70 million people worldwide who can claim Irish descent". She said, "The men and women of our diaspora represent not simply a series of departures and losses. They remain, even while absent, a precious reflection of our own growth and change, a precious reminder of the many strands of identity which compose our story". Irish emigration has had a huge impact on of course Irelans, but also on the countries to which the Irish spread. Many of the emigrants would have perished had they stayed in Ireland. Money sent hime has assisted fmily that syayed, but Ireland has also lost a great amount of talent. America was of course the major destination. And at its peak some 1.8 million Irish has emigrated to Ireland. The Irish had a huge impact on America. The American population was rekatively small at the time so the Irish impact was massive. The Irish were the first national group to arrive in hug numbers and thefirst Catholic group which made a major contrinution to America's ethnic and relgious diversity. Leading eventually to the election of President Kennedy. Gradually Irish emigration shifted to Bitain, which was easier to reach and closer to home. There are now four times more Irish in Britain than America. We think this is in part because the Irish in America were more likely to assimilate and disappear into the genral population. In recent years, the Irish economy has made apowerful recovery. This has ended the emogration which from the beginning was economically based. In addition to America and Britain, there are important Irish communities in Argentina, Austrlia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Impact

There is no modern country that has lost more of its people than Ireland. The population of every country we know of has increased in the 19th and 20th century. The Irish population today is only a fraction of what it was before the Potato Famine (1840s).

Causes

The Irish disapora was initially caused by the Potato Famine. Starvation and the terrible death toll drove the Irish abroad in unprecedented numbers. There was massive emigration to the United States and other countries.

Potato Famine

A terrible disease struck Ireland's potato crop (1846-47). The Irish peasantry lrgely existed on the potato, depending on it for most of their food. Potato crops died, causing a terrible famine and about 750,000 starved to death. The famine was in fact not because food was not availalable, but because England landlords, many absentee, continued exporting food to England even through the worse of the famine. Irish Catholics had been disposed by the English. Peasant farmers were tenants and in some areas of Ireland as many as 90 percent of the tenants depended virtually solely on the potato. In some cases starving Irish died by roads over which crops were being carted to ports for shipment to England. The failure of the crop was a humanitarian disaster. The full impact can be seen in that Ireland is virtually the only country in the world that has a smaller population now than in the early 19th century. Emmigration

Economic Failure

Substantial Irish emigration continued in the 20th century because of the economic policies of the Irish Free State and Republic in the 20th century.

Celtic Tiger

In recent years, the Irish economy has made a powerful recovery. This has ended the emigration which from the beginning was economically based.

Population Drop

The Famine killed or disperse the Irish in huge numbers. [Guinnane] we of no other country that experiencd such a sharp population drop. And even the Irish who stayed in Ireland were affected. The percentage of adults who never married increased from 10 percent to 25 percen of course seriously affecting the birth rate.

Impact on Ireland

The Irish in over the past four centuries, crossed the Atlantic in successive waves of emigrations. The most important folowed the deadly Potato Famine of the 1840s. America was the major, but not the only destination of the starving peasantry that poored out of Ireland. That migration is one of the great human migrations in history. This lack of food caused huge numbers of people to leave Ireland. As a result, about one-and-a-half million Irish came to America during the 1840s and 1850s. Countries Irish emigration has had a huge impact on of course Ireland, but also on the countries to which the Irish spread. Many of the emigrants would have perished had they stayed in Ireland. Money sent hime has assisted fmily that syayed, but Ireland has also lost a great amount of talent.

Dimensions

The Irish are one of the principal European ethnic groups in countries around the world. They often outnumber other European ethnic groups coming from much larger countries. There are perhaps 70 million people around the world that identify as being Irish. That is nearly 20 times the population of modern Ireland. The Irish have major populations in both Britain and America, but also Australia, Canada, and New Zealand as well as a host of other countries around the world. The history of the Irish is one of discrimination and struggle, but in all the countries where they arrived in numbers, the Irish played a major role in both the building of the countries and in the development of religious freedom. [Coogan] Descendants of Irish immigrants over the past four centuries, crossed the Atlantic in successive waves of emigrations. The most important follwed the potato famine of the 1840s. One vital contribution of the Irish was the development of religious freedom. The Catholic Irish arrived in such numbers that the Protestant establishment in America and other countries had to move, if slowly, to graeter religious toleration.

Country Diaspora

The result of the emigration is a huge Irish diaspra arond the world. The term is usully used for the Roman expulsion of the Jews. But given the impact of the Famine, starvation nd death, emogration became a major factor of Irish life. And thus while the Irish population declined, the Irish population around the world sored, now nearing an incredable 20 times the popultion of Ireland itself. President Mary Robinson in an address to the Joint Houses of the Oireachtas -- 'Cherishing the Irish Disapora' she reached out to the "70 million people worldwide who can claim Irish descent". She said, "The men and women of our diaspora represent not simply a series of departures and losses. They remain, even while absent, a precious reflection of our own growth and change, a precious reminder of the many strands of identity which compose our story". America was of course the major destination. And at its peak some 1.8 million Irish has emigrated to Ireland. The Irish had a huge impact on America. The American population was rekatively small at the time so the Irish impact was massive. The Irish were the first national group to arrive in hug numbers and thefirst Cathokic group which made a major contrinution to America's ethnic and relgious diversity. Leading eventually to the election of President Kennedy. Gradually Irish emigration shifted to Bitain, which was easier to reach and closer to home. There are now four times more Irish in Britain than America. We think this is in part because the Irish in America were more likely to assimilate and disappear into the genral population. In addition to America and Britain, there are important Irish communities in Argentina, Austrlia, Canada, and New Zealand.

America

America was of course the major destination. And at its peak some 1.8 million Irish has emigrated to Ireland. The Irish had a huge impact on America. The American population was rekatively small at the time so the Irish impact was massive. The Irish were the first national group to arrive in hug numbers and thefirst Cathokic group which made a major contrinution to America's ethnic and relgious diversity. Leading eventually to the election of President Kennedy. Gradually Irish emigration shifted to Bitain, which was easier to reach and closer to home. There are now four times more Irish in Britain than America. We think this is in part because the Irish in America were more likely to assimilate and disappear into the genral population. The Irish are one of the most important ethnic groups that have made modern in America. More than 40 million Americans identify as being Irish Americans, more than one out of every 10 Americans. The immigrants, like each successive immigrant group, did not have an easy time of it. But the Irish have succeded, reaching the Presidency and the Supreme Court. Irish Americans from the beginning looked back at their misty, green island. Ethnic frstivals, music and dance are emensly popular. Like Scotland, the kilt is seen as ethnic folk dress and is worn by Irish pipe bands and step dancers. America was not the heaven on earth that many of the new immigrants expected. Life in America was rarely easy and many of the new immigrants fell by the wayside. The Irish fanned out across America, building lives. Some turned to terrorism like the Molly Maguires in the Pennsylvania coal fields. [Coogan] Most turned to hard work and the the political process to change America. Many remained in areas where they disembarked from the boats, such as New York and Boston. Later, a sizable Irish-American population developed in Chicago. The Irish played a major role in the building of modern America itself. The Irish made their indelible mark in theater, sports, music, labor, on Wall Street, and even politics. The once starving immigrants eventually achieved a standard of living unimaginable in the world they had left behind. Over the generations they rose to the highest positions in politics, the labour movement, the professions, industry, commerce and the arts, and their very numbers made them a powerful political force in America. Yet more than any other ethnic group, the Irish nurture a great nostalgia for the 'Emerald Isle', their ancestral homeland. The Irish Americans offers an introduction to the world of their ancestors and, perhaps, their own roots. Many ethnic groups have been thoroughly assisilated in the Anmerican mixing bowl. The attraction for the homeland among the Irish may be strongest of all the major immigrant groups. One Irish-American historian, however, writes "I think the story of the Irish in America is still, despite this documentary and some writing that has been done recently, virgin territory. When you look at the stories of other ethnic groups -- the Jews and the Italians and so on -- they've covered their story very well. But the Irish have only begun to reflect...on their past...And I think Irish-Americans are just beginning to find themselves. I think they're a bit confused over the hyphen. They're straddling that hyphen, which confuses us all. Are you Irish, or are you American? How can you be both? They're still looking across the ocean at Ireland...But until they know who they are, they'll never have any kind of identity. It should be enough to be an American, but it isn't apparently. As long as that hyphen is there, they have to learn about the achievements of their forefathers." [Frank McCourt] Australia.

Argentina

Few Irish set off for Argentina in the immediate aftermath of the Potato Famine. Some 45,000 Irish emigrants subsequently arrived in Argentina during latter half of the 19th century. Only about 20,000 of those emigrants eventually settled there. Most decided to move on to the United States. Today some 300,000 to 500,000 Latin Americans are estimated to have some Irish ancestry, most live in Argentina. There are lesser numbers in Central America, Uruguay and Brazil

Australia

Australia has the third largest Irish-born population outside Ireland. First-generation Irish total some 74,500 people. Substantial emigration began with the foundation of the colony. Some 300,000 free Irish emigrants and 45,000 prisoners arrived un Australia (18th and 19th centurie. from Ireland

Britain

Some 75 percent of the Irish-born people living abroad are now in Britain There are also approx 1.7 million who were born to Irish parents. The third generation Irish community in Britain could be in the region of 6 million. There are of course more people in Ameica who claim Irish ancestry, but they mostly are the ancestors of the Irish who came to America in the 19th and vry early-20th century. Once Congress limited immigration (1920s), Britain became the primary destination for Irish emigranys.

Canada

First-generation Irish number about 28,500. Some 3.8 million claim Irish ancestry

New Zealand

The numbers of UIrish in New Zeland are relatively small. First-generation Irish total about 11,000 people. New Zealand has, however, a very small population. hus in proprtional terms, the Irish impact is very substntul.

Sources

Coogan, Tim Pat. Wherever Green is Worn: The Story of the Irish Diaspora (St. Martin's/Palgrave, 2001), 784p.

Mc Court, Frank.









HBC





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Created: 4:12 AM 11/15/2015
Last updated: 7:44 AM 1/9/2018