Although the Irish have travelled to Britain since the times of St Aidan, large and permanent urban communities — the crux of modern Irish settlement — only properly appeared in Elizabethan London. During the eighteenth century, however, the rise of the great commercial and industrial cities prompted the appearance of much larger Irish settlements in a greater range of places. The flow of migrants from Ireland reached new heights after the French Wars (1793–1815), with thousands entering British ports each year. By the 1830s, parliamentary commissioners and local observers were expressing concern about this rising rate of Irish settlement. In the 1840s, the impact of the Famine and a pattern of long-lived cultural antagonisms conspired to make the Irish in Britain the ‘largest unassimilable section of society’; ‘a people set apart and everywhere rejected and despised’.1 Perhaps unsurprisingly, most historians have focused on this key phase, for the reaction against the Irish sometimes was dramatic. However, the influx continued beyond the early Victorian years. Until after the First World War, the major industrial centres and smaller towns across Scotland and the north continued to receive waves of immigrants from Ireland.2 For many years, the Irish in inter-war Britain occupied something of a black hole.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
Donald M. MacRaild
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number