Tag Archives: diaspora

In praise of the Irish diaspora

I’ve been reading “The Princeton History of Modern Ireland,” edited by Richard Bourke and Ian McBride. It was one of the Irish history books under the Christmas tree five months ago.

The book offers 21 chapters by different historians that range from broad essays about major developments of Irish society and politics to more focused looks at specific factors that played an important role in shaping that trajectory, as Bourke writes in the Introduction.

Among the “standout entries,” Tom Deignan wrote in his August 2016 Commonweal review, are “explorations of the Irish language as well as the diaspora, topics that are often shoved to the margins but provide key insights into Ireland and its history.”

I especially liked Enda Delaney‘s “Diaspora” chapter, which concludes the book. These two passages caught my eye:

To write the Irish story without the diaspora is to render a partial account. It is worth remembering that in 1910 the Irish-born population of New York at 250,000 people was only exceeded by the populations of Dublin and Belfast. In other words, the third largest “Irish” city was across the Atlantic. (p. 493).

***

Irishness was never circumscribed by place of birth, as hundreds of studies of the diaspora clearly show, even if the venerable inhabitants of the “motherland” are sometimes less than keen to acknowledge this. (p. 502).

Immigrants at Ellis Island.

Kerry’s Deenihan named first minister for diaspora

Kerry T.D. Jimmy Deenihan has been named Ireland’s first Minister of State for the Diaspora.

The Irish Times calls the post “a huge boost for the Irish abroad, marking the first significant official gesture towards political representation for Irish people living outside the country.”

One of his first duties will be exploring whether Irish citizens living outside the Republic are given the right to vote in presidential elections.

Deenihan was Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Earlier in his career he helped in the effort to restore the Lartigue monorail. My wife and I met him briefly at the Listowel museum in 2012. His full bio is here. 

The appointment was part of a larger shakeup in the Irish government.