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Exploring the neglected history of Britain's largest migrant population, this is a major new study of the Irish in Britain after 1945. The Irish in Post-War Britain reconstructs, with both empathy and imagination, the histories of the lost generation who left independent Ireland in huge numbers to settle in Britain from the 1940s until the 1960s. Drawing on a wide range of previously neglected materials, Enda Delaney illustrates the complex process of negotiation and renegotiation that was involved in adapting and adjusting to life in Britain.
Less visible than other newcomers, it is widely assumed that the Irish assimilated with relative ease shortly after arrival. The Irish in Post-war Britain challenges this view, and shows that the Irish often perceived themselves to be outsiders, located on the margins of their adopted home. Many contemporaries frequently lumped the Irish together as all being essentially the same, but Delaney argues that the experiences of Britain's Irish population after the Second World War were much more diverse than previously assumed, and shaped by social class, geography, and gender, as well as nationality.
The book's original approach demonstrates that any understanding of a migrant group must take account of both elements of the society that they had left, as well as the social landscape of their new country. Proximity ensured that even though these people had left Ireland, home as an imagined sense of place was never far away in the minds of those who had settled in Britain.
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A compact, readable, but rigorous portrait of Britain's expatriate Irish community from the late 1940s through the 1960s; it supplants older studies... Highly recommended (D. M. Cregier, Choice)
[a] sensitive study...a story of hardship and neglect but also of success, social mobility and integration (Matthew Kelly, London Review of Books)
an important addition to studies of the Irish abroad in the twentieth century. It casts light not just on the experience of a large number of Irish people but also examines how immigrants relate to their new society (Brian Walker, Irish Political Studies)
[An] original and erudite study, which draws on an impressive range of primary sources... this fine book, scholarly yet accessible... represents a significant contribution to the historiography of the subject (Roger Swift, Immigrants and Minorities)
An important book. Primarily it is a definitive history of one in five Irish people in the post-war period and of the largest emigrant group in post-war Britain...it also contributes hugely to a better understanding of emigration generally, and not just in a historical sense. (Mícheál Ó Farthartaigh, Irish Journal.)
AccomplishedDelaney has worked tirelessly to plug an important lacuna in our history knowledge. (Sean O'Connell, Irish Historical Studies)
One of the great delights of the book is that it not only provides the reader with ample details of what was happening in both Irish and British society at the time, but it also presents a clear sense of how these emigrants were different from their 19th century predecessors and their post-war contemporariesThis is a great read! (Patricia O'Connor, Australasian Journal of Irish Studies)
[a] book which combines scholarly research and analysis with terrific readabilityan enjoyable, accessible study for a more general readership. (Niamh Puirséil, Saothar: Journal of the Irish Labour History Society)
excellent book ... a very accessible and readable text suitable for a wide range of courses that address multicultural Britain. (Mary J Hickman, Family and Community History)
Enda Delaney is Associate Director of the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies, University of Edinburgh.
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