The myth of return was sacred to the majority of the Irish who left the ‘ould sod’ to work in post-war Britain. Generally this dream was left unfulfilled, and several English cities became their permanent homes, leaving them as the largest ‘ethnic minority’ in Britain.
This accessible book focuses on Irish experiences in the most popular destination for Irish emigration in the twentieth century – London and the south-east of England – in the times of The Troubles.
Over 30 original interviews with first generation and second generation emigrants born in the English capital, as well as archival material, bring to life Irish Londoners and their experiences.
Sorohan offers analysis of the under-explored theme of the formation of a coherent ethnic community among the emigrants through such organisations as the Catholic Church, the GAA and County Associations. He also analyses divisions and differences within the community along class and gender lines.
Table of Contents
Chapter One : ‘Happier amongst your own’: The settled Irish community
Chapter Two: ‘A besieged community’?: The Troubles and Irish London
Chapter Three: ‘How can you be Irish with an accent like that?’ The second-generation in London
Epilogue: The 1980s: The community comes of age
Appendix – biographies of interviewees
About the Author
Seán Sorohan is the product of four Irish emigrant grandparents who took the boat to London in the post-war decades. He studied history at Durham University and Irish history at Queen’s University, Belfast. He now lives in London with his family.