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English & Irish history for secondary schools
Birmingham Pilot Scheme
What was it like to be an Irish immigrant in Britain in the 19th century?
Contents About this unit Lessons sources & worksheets 1. Hopes & fears 2. Irish immigrant experience 1 3. Irish immigrant experience 2 4. Hopes & fears revisited Note for teachers 1. Overview of the Irish in Britain 2. Individual lessons
University of Birmingham
University of Northampton
Key Stage 3
About this study unit
This four-lesson study unit is intended as a depth study within the Key Stage 3 History Curriculum, perhaps in year 8. The key question asks ‘What was it like to be an Irish immigrant in Britain in the 19th century?’ and examines the complexity of their experiences within a range of contexts. Students analyse a range of sources related to migrant experiences and attitudes towards them in order to explore (1) the hopes and fears of Irish migrants coming to Britain in the mid 19th century; ( 2) how far they remained in distinct communities; and (3) how far there was a uniform response to them. The final lesson asks how far the immigrants’ hopes and fears were justified. Historical links The unit relates the development of multicultural Britain and provides a framework for comparison with other migrant groups at different times in the past. Discussions could involve comparisons with other groups of people who have come to Britain from earliest times including Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans as well as more recent settlers such as Huguenots and black settlers from the 16th century, Jews in the Middle Ages and from the late 19th and mid-20th century together with experiences migrants during and since the Second World War. Links to other subjects The unit leads students to consider the experiences and attitudes of different people towards ethnic, cultural and religious diversity and the need to show mutual respect and understanding. It thus offers a stimulus for work on Citizenship (NC Objectives 1b and 3a), looking at situations where recent migrants have faced hostility and prejudice. The unit particularly requires speaking and listening skills. National Curriculum Historical objectives - Key Stage 3 (Old) This Unit fits in with the Breadth of Study: Britain 1750-1900: A study of how expansion of trade and colonisation, industrialisation and political changes affected the United Kingdom, including the local area, particularly 7b. history from a variety of perspectives including political, religious, social, cultural, aesthetic, economic, technological and scientific 7c. aspects of the histories of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales where appropriate In addition, pupils should be taught: 2a to describe and analyse the range of ideas, beliefs and attitudes of men, women and children in the past. 2b the social, cultural, religious and ethnic diversity of the societies studied, both in Britain and the wider world 3a how and why historical events, people, situations and changes have been interpreted in different ways 3b to evaluate interpretations. 4a identify, select and use a range of appropriate sources of information including oral accounts, documents, printed sources, the media, artefacts, pictures, photographs, music, museums, buildings and sites, and ICT-based sources as a basis for independent historical enquiries 5a recall, prioritise and select historical information 5c communicate their knowledge and understanding of history, using a range of techniques, including spoken language, structured narratives, substantiated explanations and the use of ICT. Prior knowledge It would be helpful if the students had 1. some understanding of the an alysing perspectives shown in a range of visual and written sources. 2. knowledge of the experiences other people who have come to Britain e.g. Norman invaders, Jews in the early Middle Ages, Black migrants and slaves from the 16th and 17th centuries.
New Draft PoS
C2 C6 P7 P9
R&C 13 R&C 14 R&C 16 R&C 17 R&C 20 R&C 23 R&C 24
Diversity: Understanding the diverse experiences and the range of ideas, beliefs and attitudes of men, women and children in past societies and how these have shaped the world. Interpretations: Analysing and evaluating how and why the past has been interpreted and represented in different ways through historians' debates and through a range of media. Enquiry & P8 Making and testing new hypotheses: identify and investigate, individually and as part of a team, specific historical questions or issues, making and testing new hypotheses (8), improve as questioning and independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers with curious and enquiring minds. Evidence: identify, select and use a range of historical sources, including textual, visual and oral sources, artefacts and the historic environment, evaluate the sources used in order to reach reasoned conclusions.P10 Communication about the past: communicate their knowledge and understanding of history, using chronological conventions and historical vocabulary, in a variety of ways, present arguments about the past that are coherent, structured and substantiated. the changing relationships of the peoples' of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales how movement and settlement of diverse peoples to, from and within the British Isles, have shaped the British Isles through time he changes in the lives of men, women and children, including work, technology, leisure, culture, religion and environment in past societies people's diverse ideas, beliefs and attitudes in past societies build on their knowledge and understanding of the past from earlier key stages study the ways in which the past has helped to shape identities, shared cultures, values and attitudes today examine history from a variety of perspectives including political, religious, social, cultural, aesthetic, economic, technological and scientific.
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Hopes & fears
Key question Starter Activities NC (History) What do the sources suggest about the Irish immigrant experience? Use source a, fill in the circles in the graphic organiser? What do see? What is the artist saying about their hopes & fears? What else do you want to ask? 1. Working in groups, look at sources B, C, D. 2. If you were the people in picture and could see into the future, which of the sources B, C, D, E & F would make them most at ease and which would scare your most. Come to a consensus as to where you would put sources B, C, D, E & F on a continuum line - from most at ease to most scared. Justify the exact point where you place the sources on the continuum. 3. Report back to whole class, using whiteboard of available. 4. Plenary: Consider the key question and then ask what more do we need to investigate.
2a 4a, 4b New PoS C2, C6 P7, P8, P9, P10 R&C 13,14,16
Sources A. The Last Hour in the Old Land Margaret Allen, c. 1877, Gorry Gallery, Dublin B. Irish Emigrant Arriving in Liverpool Erskine Nicol, 1871, Nat. Galleries, Scotland
C. ‘The Dacent Irish Boy’ The hero of this song has emigrated to Glasgow, where he has found work and is very popular.
I’m working here in Glasgow, I’ve got a decent job I’m carrying bricks and mortar and me pay is fifteen bob I rise up in the morning, I get up with the lark, And as I’m walking down the street, you can hear the girls remark: ‘Hello Patsy Fagan! You’re the apple of me eye. Hello Patsy Fagan! You’re the apple of me eye. You’re a dacent boy from Ireland, there’s no one can deny. You’re a rarem taren, divil may caren dacent Irish boy.’
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D. Threat to Irish navvies in Scotland, 1835(?)
NOTICE is given that all the IRISH MEN on the line of railway in Fife Shire MUST be off the grownd and out of the Countey on MONDAY THE 11TH of this month or els we must by the strength of our arems and a good pick shaft put them off. You humbel servants SHOTS MEN.
E. Irish Vagrants in England, Walter Deverell, c. 1853, Johannesburg Art Gallery
F. A fictional letter from an Irish girl called Bridget, 5 January 1850. (Inspired by actual emigrant letters written by the Doorley family who settled in England.) Dear Lilly, I got your letter before I went to mass on Sunday and it made me very happy. Kate , Mary Anne's daughter and her husband Sylvester have moved in. He is a blacksmith and left Ireland 15 years ago. Work is hard, especially as I have to get up and go to work at 5 o'clock. I go to the mill and make blankets. I have been very sick and short of breath. Bridget
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Graphic organiser Source A
What do you see?
Centre: What do you see? Middle: What is the artist saying about the hopes & fears of the immigrants? Outer: What else do you want to ask? IiS, Irish immigration - teacher booklet, 5
If you were the people in picture and could see into the future, which of the sources B, C, D, E & F would make them most at ease and which would scare your most. Come to a consensus as to where you would put sources B, C, D, E & F on a continuum line - from most at ease to most scared. Justify the exact point where you place the sources on the continuum. I’m working here in Glasgow, Dear Lilly, NOTICE is given that I’ve got a decent job all the IRISH MEN on I’m carrying bricks and mortar I got your letter before I the line of railway in and me pay is fifteen bob went to mass on Sunday and I rise up in the morning, I get up Fife Shire MUST be it made me very happy. Kate , with the lark, Mary Anne's daughter and off the grownd and And as I’m walking down the her husband Sylvester have out of the Countey on street, you can hear the girls moved in. He is a blacksmith remark: MONDAY THE 11TH and left Ireland 15 years ‘Hello Patsy Fagan! You’re the of this month or els we ago. Work is hard, especially apple of me eye. as I have to get up and go to must by the strength Hello Patsy Fagan! You’re the work at 5 o'clock. I go to the apple of me eye. of our arems and a mill and make blankets. I You’re a dacent boy from Ireland, good pick shaft put have been very sick and there’s no one can deny. them off. You humbel short of breath. You’re a rarem taren, divil may caren dacent Irish boy.’ Bridget servants SHOTS MEN. Source B Source C Source D Source E Source F
Very scary Fears
Very happy Hopes
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Irish immigrant experience 1
Key question What far did the Irish stick together? - settlement - worship - work. Starter Look at Source F from Lesson 1. Highlight in the letter words or phases which show the Irish stick together. We will investigate to see how typical was Bridget’s experience. Activities 1. Split the class into groups, with each group looking at the theme of settlement, religion or work. Each group will study their selection and address the question how far did the Irish stick together in Britain. I. Settlement: how far did the Irish live together and how far did they live in ghettoes? II. Religion: how important was religion in keeping them together? III. Work: how far did the Irish congregate in the same jobs? 2. Jigsaw ideas between groups: Each person feeds back to new group findings of their home group, making a maximum of three points. Each member of the class chooses two main points from each section and records them on the table. 3. Each new group then decides how typical Bridget’s experience was and agrees a common sentence to write at the bottom of the grid. 4. Plenary: Teacher asks how typical was Bridget’s story NC (History)
2a, 2b, 2d 4a, 4b New PoS C2 P7, P8 R&C 16,17,23, 24
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I. Settlement: your questions & sources
Lesson 2: What far did the Irish stick together? A. How far did the Irish in Britain live together? B. How far did they live in ghettoes?
A ghetto is a quarter in a city inhabited almost exclusively by one ethnic or religious group.
1A. The Irish-born population of England, Scotland and Wales, 1841-61
Area 1841 England & Wales Scotland 1851 England & Wales Scotland 1861 England & Wales Scotland No. of Irish-born residents (nearest 1,000) 291,000 126,000 520,000 207,000 602,000 204,000 % of population Irish born 1.8 4.8 2.9 7.2 3.0 6.6
1B. ‘Top twenty’ Irish towns in Britain, 1851-71 1851 1871 Town London Liverpool Glasgow Manchester Dundee Edinburgh Birmingham Bradford Leeds Newcastle Stockport Preston Bristol Sheffield Bolton Paisley Sunderland Wolverhampton Merthyr Tydfil Hull Number Irish-born 108,548 83,813 59,801 52,504 14,889 12,514 9,341 9,279 8,466 7,124 5,701 5,122 4,761 4,477 4,453 4,036 3,601 3,491 3,051 2,983 As % total 4.6 22.3 18.2 13.1 18.9 6.5 4.0 8.9 4.9 8.1 10.6 7.4 3.5 3.3 7.3 12.7 5.5 7 11.3 3.5 Town London Liverpool Glasgow Manchester Dundee Leeds Greenock Birmingham Bradford Edinburgh Newcastle Sheffield Bolton Paisley Preston Sunderland Plymouth Stockport Bristol Middlesbrough Number Irish-born 91,171 76,761 68,330 34,066 14195 10,128 9,462 9,076 8,318 8,031 6,904 6,082 5,383 4,703 4,646 4,469 4,093 3,975 3,876 3,621 As % total 2.8 15.6 14.3 9.0 11.9 3.9 16.6 2.6 5.8 3.3 5.4 2.5 6.5 9.8 5.5 4.6 6.2 7.5 2.1 9.2
From C. Pooley, ‘Segregation or Integration? The Residential Experience of the Irish in Mid-Victorian Britain’ in R. Swift and S. Gilley (eds.), The Irish in Britain, 1815-1939, 66-7
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1D. Streets in North Liverpool, 1851, the most ‘Irish’ area of the city Hint: How many streets were exclusively Irish? Street Edgar/Bow St Cavendish St Milton St/Back Milton St Harrison St Sawney Pope St Addison St/Fontenoy St Marybone/Bevington Bush Bevington Bush/Scotland Rd Comus St Rosehill/Plover St Scotland Place Hare Place Bent St/East View TOTAL Total population 269 860 1,240 520 1,397 947 208 31 639 315 68 92 495 7,369 No of Irish-born 38 497 645 417 740 695 94 48 182 58 6 45 264 3,729 Irish as percentage of total 14 58 52 80 53 73 45 15 28 18 9 49 53 50.6
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II. Religion: your question & sources
Lesson 2: What far did the Irish stick together? How important was religion in keeping the Irish in Britain together?
Note: The vast majority of Irish immigrants in Britain the nineteenth century were Roman Catholics.
2A. Who did the Irish marry? Irish marriages in Stafford Catholic churches: ethnic character of partners, 1838-1914 Hint: are there any changes over time?
Eng/Irish: ethnically English male partner, Irish female partner Irish/Eng: ethnically Irish male partner, English female partner All-Irish:both partners ethnically Irish
2B. Church attendance in Liverpool (on a Sunday in 1853 Denomination Church of England Dissenters Roman Catholic 2C. A London priest Seat room 63,760 54,594 15,300 Average attendance 35,526 28,843 43,380 Proportion of attendance described as working class (%) 45 60 90
Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor (1861)
Everywhere the people ran out to meet him. He had just returned to them, I found, and the news spread round, and women crowded to their doorsteps, and came creeping up from the cellars through the trap-doors, merely to curtsey to him. One old crone, as he passed, cried ‘You’re a good father, Heaven comfort you’, and the boys playing about stood still to watch him. A lad, in a man’s tail coat and a shirt-collar that nearly covered in his head - like the paper round a bouquet - was fortunate enough to be noticed, and his eyes sparkled, as he touched his hair at each work he spoke in answer....He called them all by their names, and asked after their families, and once or twice the ‘father’ was taken aside and held by the button while some point that required his advice was whispered in his ear.
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III. Work: your question & sources
Lesson 2: What far did the Irish stick together? How far did the Irish in Britain congregate in the same jobs?
3A. The occupational profile of the Irish-born in Leigh, 1851 Census Enumerators’ Sheets, Leigh, Lancashire, 31 March 1851
a. Irish-born males Descripton Number Cotton Industry Carder 2 Grinder 1 Handloom weaver 4 Piecer 3 Labourer 1 Spinner 2 Stripper 1 Tenter/Carder Weaver 2 Worker 4 Silk Industry Weaver Worker Description Labourers Agricultural Chemical works General Vitriol works Other Jobs Baker Brickmaker Cordwainer Dealer (fruit) Drawer (colliery) Factory worker Farmer Doctor Number 90 5 35 5 Description Number Grinder (factory) 1 Joiner 1 Lodging house kpr 7 Miner 4 Miller 1 Painter 2 Rag collector 1 Shoemaker 12 Tailor 10 Umbrella maker 1 Chelsea Pens. 1 Total Jobs 224 No data on jobs At home Scholars Overall Total 48 3 4 280
1 1 1 2 1 8 1 1
b. Irish-born females Description Number Domestic & Household Services Cook 1 Charwoman 2 Domestic duties 11 Housemaid 1 Laundress 2 Servant 24 Washerwoman 17 Other Services Assistant in Beerhouse Bookbinder Boot & Shoe Binder Dealer Dressmaker Hawker Lodging house kps
Description Nurse Shoemaker Seamstress Cotton Mills Bobbin winder Carder Doubler Hand twister Piecer Worker Silk Industry Handloom weaver Weaver Powerloom weaver Winder Worker
Number 6 1 1
Description Other Jobs Labourer (agric.) Chemical works labourer Factory worker General labourer Nailmaker Jobs Total
32 2 15 4 1 181
1 2 1 1 2 10
1 1 1 3 3 2 5
1 10 2 3 2
No Data on Jobs Wife Daughters Lodgers Rest Scholars At home Overall Total
25 12 41 20 7 4 290
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3B. Irish occupations in Birmingham, 1851
Census (1851) & C. Chinn, ‘The Irish in Early Victorian England’, The Irish in Victorian Britain. The Local Dimension edited by R. Swift & S. Gilley, Dublin, 1999, pp 68-9
Across Birmingham, 5231 Irish were recorded with 765 occupations. They ranged in economic status from John Ryland, an Armagh accountant who lived in prosperous Ashted Row with his family and a servant, to James Foy of 6, Park Street. He, his wife and their five children aged three and upwards were all beggars. Overall there were few Irish who could be regarded as middle class. Depending upon the interpretation of jobs and without any knowledge of income, at the most they formed 2% of the total. This small group included professionals, clerks, teachers and actors. 3C. Irish agricultural labourers in Lincolnshire, 1892
John Denvir, The Irish in Britain (1892), 153-4
The numbers of the Irish peasantry who each year crossed the channel to reap the harvest in England and Scotland had enormously increased. In Lincolnshire, in that year (1841) there were but 1244 settled natives of Ireland. In 1851 there were 2344. They had about doubled their number –simply keeping pace with the total increase of Irish throughout the country; yet each year vast numbers of Irish came over for the harvest, for we find that in three or four days in August 1850, according to the Stamford Mercury, 12,000 of them passed through Liverpool from Ireland, on their way to the Fens of Lincolnshire. The census figures show how few must have remained each year. The Fen country is in Lincolnshire, where there are places almost as well known, and spoken of as familiarly by the firesides of Mayo, as if they were in Ireland itself. 3D. Irish street-sellers in mid-Victorian London
Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, London, 1864, vol II, p. 130
It is curious to observe that the most assiduous and hitherto the most successful of street traders, [the Jews], were supplanted not by a more persevering or more skilful body of street-sellers, but simply by a more starving body .... An Irish boy of fourteen, having to support himself by street-trade, as was often the case, owing to the death of parents and to diverse casualties, would undersell the Jew boy similarly circumstanced. The Irish boy could live harder than the Jew .... Thus he could sell at a smaller profit, and did so sell, until gradually the Hebrew youths were displaced by the Irish in the street orange trade. 3E. Court case reported in the Coventry Standard, 9 March1849 Bridget Voil, another Irish woman, was charged with loitering about the barrack-gates, for the purpose of asking alms, and being a great annoyance to the Soldiers; on being asked what she had to say for such conduct, she answered in her native Irish, that no one person could understand a word she said and pretended she could not speak English, but then she was told she would be discharged this time, and if she was brought up again on such a charge she would be committed as a rogue and a vagabond, she replied in very good English ‘Thank you, Sir, I will take care of myself’, and then left the office.
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Lesson 2 Plenary
Key question: How far did the Irish stick together? Sub-question A. How far did the Irish in Britain live together? B. How far did they live in ghettoes? How important was religion in keeping the Irish in Britain together? Bullet points from class feedback
How far did the Irish in Britain congregate in the same jobs?
Conclusion: how typical was Bridget’s story?
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Irish immigrant experience 2
Key question How far was there a uniform English, Welsh and Scottish response to Irish immigrants? Starter Look at Source D from Lesson 1 and produce a quick news report. Activities 1. In pairs, look at all the sources and divide them into positive and negative, giving a score for each - 1 for most negative, 10 for most positive. Justify your decision. 2. If you were producing a radio broadcast to answer the key question, which two people from the sources would you interview. Justify your choice. 3. Produce a storyboard to your broadcast, highlighting four points you would like to make about English, Scottish and Welsh attitudes to the Irish. 4. Plenary: Put all the story boards on a wall and in groups of three pairs justify their sources and story boards to each other. NC (History)
3a, 3b 4a, 4b New PoS C2, C6 P7, P9, P10 R&C 13, 14: 16, 17, 23,24
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Sources I. SETTLEMENT A. A view of Irish immigrants by Thomas Carlyle (1840)
He is the sorest evil this country has to strive with. In his rags and laughing savagery, he is there to undertake all work that can be done by mere strength of hand and back - for wages that will purchase him potatoes. He needs only salt for condiment, he lodges to his mind in any pig-hutch or dog-hutch, roosts in outhouses, and wears a suit of tatters, the getting on and off of which is said to be a difficult operation, transacted only in festivals and the high tides of the calendar. The Saxon-man, if he cannot work on these terms, finds no work. The uncivilised Irishman, not by his strength, but by the opposite of strength, drives the Saxon native out, takes possession in his room. B. The Times, 2 April 1847 The newspaper was no great friend of Ireland.
Ireland is pouring into the cities, and even the villages of this island, a disgusting mass of famine, nakedness and dirt and fever. Liverpool, whose closeness to Ireland has already made it the most unhealthy town in this island, seems destined to become one mass of disease. C. Registrar General 1847, reported in Liverpool Mail, 6 November 1847 . . . Liverpool, created in haste by commerce - by men too intent on immediate gains - reared without any tender regard for flesh and blood, and flourishing while the working population was rotting in cellars, has been severely taught a lesson that a portion of the population - whether in cellars or on distant shores cannot suffer without involving the whole community in calamity. In itself, one of the unhealthiest towns in the Kingdom, Liverpool has for a year, been the hospital and cemetery of Ireland. III. RELIGION D. Two views on responsibility for the sectarian violence that accompanied Orange marches in Liverpool, 14 July 1851
Some 3,00 Orangemen were met by a crowd of between 500 and 1,00 Irish labourers and 150 policemen guarded the procession. One Irish labourer was shot dead and a 14-year-old boy and three policemen wounded by gunshot, among many other injuries. Seventy people were arrested and taken into custody, all Irish.
Manchester Examiner, July 1851, holding Orangemen responsible for promoting the violence
The Loyal Protestants of Liverpool as they style themselves par excellence, must be either besottedly fond of self-exultation, or else callously indifferent to the woes of human kind, if they can regard with any complacency their achievement of last Monday. A street procession with ever so many banners and trumpets is a poor set-off against a hundred shattered limbs and a thousand embittered hearts . .. and how can the fiery declaimers of the pulpit and platform who have been stimulating the fanatical fury of half taught zealots against the disciples of a different faith, acquit themselves of some share in this calamitous result? We do not know that the Rev Dr McNeile or the Rev Canon Stowell or any other renown Boanerges of the Protestant Ascendancy, directly sanctioned the vexatious parade that tempted the Irish and Catholic labourers to this lamentable outrage. But sure we are, that the spirit which induced the members of the Orange Lodges, in spite of all reason, prudence and charity, to blazon their religious animosities before the eyes of the world, was learnt of such teachers. It is the practical fruit of those frantic paroxysms of excitement into which, by the influence of example, sympathy and oratorical mesmerism, multitudes of their audiences have been goaded. 2. Liverpool Mail, 19 July 1851, blaming Irish Catholics for the violence
It appears that scenes which formerly distinguished Ireland have been translated to the streets of Liverpool and that peaceable and well behaved men of sober and industrious habit, cannot hold a holiday or walk in procession from clubroom to clubroom in the sight of their families and friends, without running the risk
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of having their brains knocked out by ferocious Papists, who, as lumpers or barrow men, work in the docks . . . Popery has so completely polluted their mental faculties, and debased the physical and moral habits of the Irish peasant that it is impossible to ameliorate his condition as a social animal. He does not think as the Englishman, or Scotsman and Welshman does, because he is so saturated with traditional falsehoods . . . a parcel of besotted and ignorant Irishmen must not be allowed to interfere with the liberty of the English subject. E. Concert on St Patrick’s Day, 1885
The Barrow Herald, 21 March 1885
On Tuesday evening last, being St Patrick’s Day, a grand Irish ballad concert took place at the Town Hall; most of the performers being connected with the Catholic Church in this town. The Rev. Father Caffrey presided, and amongst those present were the Revs. Father Gordon, Father Collinson, and Father Monaghan; Mr Palmer, and others. There was also a large attendance. The following was the programme:– Selection of Irish airs, St Mary’s Band; quartette, ‘The young May moon’, Mdles Logan and Craven, and Messrs Ennis and Wyer; original ballad (written for the occasion), ‘Pat’s Boys’, Mr G.B. Harcourt; song, ‘Farewell’, with flute obligato, Mr L. Wyer and Mr P. Coyne; old melody, ‘Soggarth Aroon’, Miss M. Craven; harp solo, ‘Sounds from the Emerald Isle’, Mr Fred Haslam; ballad, ‘Dear little shamrock’, Mrs Harcourt; song, ‘Thinking of home’, Mr J.F. Ennis; serio–comicsong, ‘The gap in the hedge at Kilmare’, Miss Logan; impersonation ditty, ‘Bridget Muldoon’, Mr T.R. Clithero; song with harp, ‘The Wolf’, Mr Fred Haslam; quartet, ‘Let Erin remember’, Mdles Logan and Craven, and Messrs Ennis and Wyer; comic song, ‘Molly, I can’t say ye’re honest’, Mr G.B. Harcourt; song, ‘The meeting of the Waters’, Miss M. Craven; duet (selected), Messrs Ennis and Wyer; Irish air, ‘Colleen dhas Cruthen na moe’, Mrs Harcourt; harp solo, ‘Beauties of Irish melody’, Mr Fred Haslam; new ballad, ‘Barney’, Miss M. Logan; song, ‘Dublin Bay’, Mr J.L. Wyer; character song, ‘Brave Captain Magann’, Mr T.R. Clitheroe; melody, ‘The minstrel boy’, Mr J.F. Ennis; humorous sketch, ‘I’m a married man myself’, Mr and Mrs Harcourt; Irish selection, ‘St Patrick’s Day’, St Mary’s Band. The Rev. Father Caffrey briefly addressed the meeting. As a rule he remarked he had plenty to say on occasions such as that, but unfortunately for him Father Gordon had covered the whole ground at his talk to them in the morning. He had pointed out to them the advantages of education, and he (the speaker), suffering as he was from bronchitis, would not trouble them further. They were celebrating that night the day dedicated to their patron saint. Just at the present time the Irish were the most envied and admired race on the face of the globe, and the further they went from home the more they were admired. Irishmen everywhere were assembled to celebrate St Patrick’s Day - in America, Australia, India, and England, as well as in Ireland. Wherever they went the Irish always got themselves into good positions – from the Mayor of New York to the shoeblacks of Brooklyn. (Laughter) They looked round that night, and they could sympathise with their race throughout the world; with Lord Wolseley, Lord Charles Beresford, and others fighting in Egypt; with the Mayors of Sydney and New York, and hosts of others. (Cheers) He hoped that they were well pleased with the entertainment that night, and that they would come to church on Sunday evening next, and hear a little more about St Patrick’s Day. F. Catholic piety in London
M.C. Bishop, ‘The Social Methods of Roman Catholicism in England’, Contemporary Review, 39, 1887, p. 612
A priest belonging to the order bearing the ‘un-English’ name, ‘Oblates of Mary Immaculate’, got together some fifty labourers of Whitechapel [London] and preached to them under a railway arch. The fifty increased to five hundred before long, and the congregation migrated from the railway arch to a garret, and then to a temporary iron church. Meantime by much begging, by the help of a few benefactors of the upper world, but chiefly by the pence and farthings of the Romish roughs thereabouts, schools were built.
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Report on the State of the Irish Poor in Great Britain (Cornewall Lewis Report), Appendix, p. 41. Parliamentary Papers (1836), Evidence of Henry Potts, Clerk of the Peace in Chester, February 1834
G. The impact of Irish labourers in West Cheshire, 1834
[Q] Would it be advantageous for this town and neighbourhood if the Irish immigration could of a sudden be completely stopped? [A] The city of Chester and its immediate neighbourhood would no doubt be benefitted by stopping the immigration of Irish labourers; but many persons who have occasion for much manual labour would give an opposite opinion. [Q] Could the work in the town be done, or could the harvest in the country be got in, without Irish labourers? [A] The population of Chester and its immediate neighbourhood is considered abundantly sufficient for the work of the town and country, without the Irish; but I am informed, that in the less populous districts of the county their assistance is important to the harvest, and the expense of getting it in would perhaps be doubled; for the benefit, nevertheless, of the English labourer. [Q] Has the Irish competition lowered the general rate of wages in this town and neighbourhood; and if so, in what departments of industry, and to what extent? [A] Certainly; more particularly in harvesting hay, corn and potatoes, and in road-making to a considerable extent, and to some extent in other departments. [Q] Has the Irish immigration increased the amount of the poor-rates in this town and neighbourhood? [A] Yes, indirectly, in as much as the English labourer used to make his rent during harvest-time, for which he now frequently applies to the parish, and in case of refusal probably finds his way to the poor-house. H. Irish sugar-workers in Greenock, 1836
Report on the State of the Irish Poor in Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers (1836) xxiv—xxvii
Mr Thomas Fairrie, sugar manufacturer, of Greenock [stated] ‘If it was not for the Irish, we should be obliged to import Germans, as is done in London. The Scotch will not work in sugar-houses; the heat drives them away in the first fortnight. If it was not for the Irish, we should be forced to give up trade; and the same applies to every sugar-house in town. This is a well-known fact. Germans would be our only resource, and we could not readily get them. Highlanders would not do the work’.
I. Liverpool Mail, 6 November 1847 The people that come here are not labourers ... they are beggars and paupers. They never were labourers. They never did an honest day’s work in their lives. They live by begging ... and when they arrive here, begging is their profession ...
IiS, Irish immigration - teacher booklet, 18
Hopes & fears revisited
Key question What were the pros and cons of being an Irish immigrant in Britain in the 19th century? Starter Look again at Bridget’s letter, Source F in Lesson 1, and highlight in two different colours the advantages and disadvantages of being an Irish person living in Britain. Activities 1. Assume she stayed in the country, write a letter she might have written later describing pros and cons of being an Irish person living in Britain in the nineteenth century. Base your letter on between three and five pieces of evidence from the previous lessons. 2. Plenary: Class secret ballot (Yes, No, Don’t know) on the question: Would you have liked to have been an Irish person living in Britain in the nineteenth century? 3.Optional poll: How far does anything you have learned about Irish immigrants apply to immigrants in Britain today? NC (History)
2a, 2b 5a, 5c New PoS C2, C6 P10 R&C 13, 14,16, 17, 23, 24
Lesson 1, Source F A fictional letter from an Irish girl called Bridget, 5 January 1850. (Inspired by actual emigrant letters written by the Doorley family who settled in England.)
Liverpool, England, 5 January 1850
I got your letter before I went to mass on Sunday and it made me very happy. Kate , Mary Anne's daughter and her husband Sylvester have moved in. He is a blacksmith and left Ireland 15 years ago. Work is hard, especially as I have to get up and go to work at 5 o'clock. I go to the mill and make blankets. I have been very sick and short of breath. Bridget
IiS, Irish immigration - teacher booklet, 19
Lesson 1 Hopes & fears Key question What do the sources suggest about the Irish immigrant experience? Starter Use source a, fill in the circles in the graphic organiser? What do see? What is the artist saying about their hopes & fears? What else do you want to ask? Look at Source F from Lesson 1. Highlight in the letter words or phases which show the Irish stick together. We will investigate to see how typical was Bridget’s experience. Activities 1. Working in groups, look at sources B, C, D. 2. If you were the people in picture and could see into the future, which of the sources B, C, D, E & F would make them most at ease and which would scare you most. Come to a consensus as to where you would put sources B, C, D, E & F on a continuum line from most at ease to most scared. Justify the exact point where you place the sources on the continuum. 3. Report back to whole class, using whiteboard of available. 4. Plenary: Consider the key question and then ask what more do we need to investigate. 1. Split the class into groups, with each group looking at the theme of settlement, religion or work. Each group will study their selection and address the question how far did the Irish stick together in Britain. I. Settlement: how far did the Irish live together and how far did they live in ghettoes? II. Religion: how important was religion in keeping them together? III. Work: how far did the Irish congregate in the same jobs? 2. Jigsaw ideas between groups: Each person feeds back to new group findings of their home group, making a maximum of three points. Each member of the class chooses two main points from each section and records them on the table. 3. Each new group then decides how typical Bridget’s experience was and agrees a common sentence to write at the bottom of the grid. 4. Plenary: Teacher asks how typical was Bridget’s story. 1. In pairs, look at all the sources and divide them into positive and negative, giving a score for each - 1 for most negative, 10 for most positive. Justify your decision. 2. If you were producing a radio broadcast to answer the key question, which two people from the sources would you interview. Justify your choice. 3. Produce a storyboard to your broadcast, highlighting four points you would like to make about English, Scottish and Welsh attitudes to the Irish. 4. Plenary: Put all the story boards on a wall and in groups of three pairs justify their sources and story boards to each other. 1. Assume she stayed in the country, write a letter she might have written later describing pros and cons of being an Irish person living in Britain in the nineteenth century. Base your letter on between three and five pieces of evidence from the previous lessons. 2. Plenary: Class secret ballot (Yes, No, Don’t know) on the question: Would you have liked to have been an Irish person living in Britain in the nineteenth century. 3.Optional poll: How far does anything you have learned about Irish immigrants apply to immigrants in Britain today? NC (History) 2a 4a, 4b New PoS C2, C6 P7, P8, P9, P10 R&C 13,14,16
2a, 2b, 2d 4a, 4b New PoS C2 P7, P8 R&C 16,17,23, 24
2 Irish immigrant experience 1
What far did the Irish stick together? - settlement - worship - work.
3 Irish immigrant experience 2
How far was there a uniform English, Welsh and Scottish response to Irish immigrants - settlement, religion, work? What were the pros and cons of being an Irish immigrant in Britain in the 19th century?
Look at Source D from Lesson 1 and produce a quick news report.
3a, 3b 4a, 4b New PoS C2, C6 P7, P9, P10 R&C 13, 14: 16, 17, 23,24
4 Hopes & fears revisited
Look again at Bridget’s letter, source f in lesson 1, and highlight in two different colours the advantages and disadvantages of being an Irish person living in Britain.
2a, 2b 5a, 5c New PoS C2, C6 P10 R&C 13, 14,16, 17, 23, 24
IiS, Irish immigration - teacher booklet, 20
Note for teachers
1. Overview of the Irish in Britain
Until the advent of ‘New Commonwealth’ migration after World War II, the Irish were by far the largest ethnic group in Britain. However, this prominence was not unique to the modern period. Irish sojourners were finding their way to Britain as early as the Middle Ages and had begun to form permanent settlements in London by the Elizabethan period. The eighteenth century saw further developments of this type, with Irish migration mirroring the wider growth of urban and industrial centres. The emergence of the northern towns, and the establishment of the great commercial and industrial cities, prompted the appearance of much larger and more closely observed Irish settlements. The first half of the nineteenth century witnessed a substantial increase in the pace and scale of Irish migration to Britain. The 1841 Census enumerated the Irish-born population of England, Wales and Scotland at 419,000 . By 1851, in consequence of the massive exodus during the Great Famine, this figure had risen to 727,000. In 1861, the Irish-born population peaked at 806,000, when it comprised 3.5% of the total population. Thereafter, as migration from Ireland to Britain declined, the number of Irish-born migrants in Britain also progressively fell, declining to 550,000 (or 1.3% of the population) in 1911. lodges The Irish presence was generally unpopular. Even before the Famine, British social investigators and commentators variously perceived Irish migration as little short of a social disaster which, it was argued, exacerbated urban squalor, constituted a health hazard, increased the burden on the Poor Rates and was a threat to law and order in British cities 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.’ Irish immigration ‘involved the positive movement of people in search of better economic opportunities in Britain’. Accordingly, the Irish presence was concentrated overwhelmingly in the towns and cities of ‘the workshop of the world’. As late as World War I, a continuing migration meant that even less fashionable Irish centres, such as Whitehaven in Cumberland and Hebburn on Tyneside, ‘bore the cultural and political hallmarks of their long-established Irish communities, whether in the form of thriving Catholic churches or Orange’. These migrants, many of whom subsequently re-emigrated, were by no means an homogeneous group. Their ranks contained both rich and poor, middle class and working class, skilled and unskilled, Catholics and Protestants (as well as unbelievers), Nationalists and Loyalists, and men and women from a variety of distinctive provincial rural and urban cultures in Ireland. The majority were young, single people, disproportionately male. They were also notoriously transient, and the urban districts they inhabited experienced continual in- and out-migration, with only a relatively small number of migrants establishing permanent settlements. However, the vast majority of these Irish people were poor and they were Roman Catholics, and it is their story - a story, in many cases, ‘of triumph over adversity - that looms large in the history of the Irish in Britain.
IiS, Irish immigration - teacher booklet, 21
Note for teachers
2. Individual lessons
Lesson 1: Hopes & fears Source B: Irish Emigrant Arriving in Liverpool, Erskine Nicol, 1871 Since most Irish peasants had not previously travelled far from home, migration was a disorienting experience. This picture conveys some of this dislocation. Once in Liverpool, emigrants sought lodgings and passages. Swindlers, ‘runners’ and ‘mancatchers’ preyed on them, often robbing them of baggage and carefully hoarded cash. Source E: Irish Vagrants in England by Walter Deverell, c. 1853 Much of the Irish population in Britain was mobile, taking casual employment where available. In general the Irish suffered from a widespread British prejudice that they were disloyal, stupid and improvident and were the butt of malicious humour and discrimination. Lesson 2: Irish immigrant experience 1 Settlement, Little Irelands’/ghettoes? Much contemporary qualitative evidence, which referred specifically to ‘the lowest Irish’ - the very poorest Irish - rather than to all Irish migrants, suggested that during the 1830s and 1840s in particular the newcomers were located in socially immobile and unintegrated ghettos or ‘Little Irelands’, isolated in particular streets and courts from the surrounding populations. The image of these districts, including St Giles in London, or Manchester’s ‘Little Ireland’, observed by Frederick Engels in 1844, was popularly perceived to be a reality of Irish urban settlement. Many towns did, indeed, possess so-called ‘Irish quarters’ populated by extended families, including Goit Side in Bradford, Rock Row in Stockport, Sandygate in Newcastle, Bedern in York, and Caribee Island in Wolverhampton. The tendency of the Irish poor to cluster in such districts was influenced by the availability of cheap accommodation, including lodging-houses, the existence of familial and kinship networks, proximity to available employment, and the development of Irish social, cultural and religious organizations. Yet Irish did not congregate in ‘ghettos’ to the exclusion of other ethnic groups. For example, St Giles was not inhabited exclusively by the Irish poor and was, as a criminal rookery, atypical of Irish districts in London. Similarly, while there were areas of concentrated Irish settlement in Liverpool, Blackburn and Bolton, they were not wholly isolated from the host community. Even where Irish immigrants dominated particular streets, courts and squares they were seldom shut off from the native population. Indeed, in Liverpool almost half the Irish lived in enumeration districts with low or medium concentrations of Irish people, and this also appears to have been the case in London and York, where the Irish lived cheek by jowl beside natives of the same social class. This was also true of Irish settlement in smaller English towns such as Stafford and Chester, where the Irish-born population was geographically dispersed and where the formation of an identifiable Irish community was inhibited by a high level of out-migration. In short, the poor Irish lived among the English poor, and the upwardly mobile among the English upper-working or middle class. In sum, the pattern of Irish settlement was determined largely by economic considerations, and if there was an ‘Irish community’ it did not rest on a pattern of rigid residential segregation. Religion The majority of Irish people who settled in Victorian Britain were Roman Catholics, and the survival of an Irish identity was crucially bound up with the survival of Catholicism, as the Roman Catholic Church in England, Scotland and Wales was the only native institution with a fundamental claim on Irish loyalties. This relationship was reflected in the unique role and status of the Roman Catholic priest within Irish communities in British towns and cities, as Henry Mayhew observed in mid-Victorian London. The rise of an expatriate Irish Catholicism was part of the transformation of nineteenth-century Irish religion from a faith based chiefly on the home and on family prayers, and Gaelic devotion and pilgrimage or ‘patterns’ in a sacred rural landscape, to a much more chapel-orientated religion of weekly attendance at Mass. This transformation, which can be dated from Archbishop Paul Cullen’s remaking of the Irish church in the Roman mould in the 1850s, has been described as a ‘Devotional Revolution’, and by the end of the century the Irish had become the most practising Catholics in the world.
IiS, Irish immigration - teacher booklet, 22
Work Overall, among the country immigrants to British towns and cities, the Irish were generally the least prepared to succeed in their new environment. The great majority of Irish-born, largely illiterate and unskilled, entered the lowliest and least healthy of urban occupations, unless they enlisted in the army, which was 30 per cent Irish in the mid-Victorian period. Most of those with limited or no skills were concentrated in unskilled occupations in mines, ironworks, textile mills and manufactories; in construction industries, notably as railway ‘navvies’, and in casual dock labour and street-selling. These were occupations for which a highly sophisticated city like London, with a highly specialised labour force, held very few rewards and the Irish could only enter the metropolitan economy with difficulty. Although a minority of skilled workers entered sweated industries like cobbling and tailoring , street-selling was, as Henry Mayhew observed, the most common occupation among the Irish in London’s East End. By contrast, in Liverpool, which was a trading and commercial rather than an industrial centre, employment opportunities, housing and sanitation were overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of Irish immigration during the 1840s, and the demand for labour lay largely in unskilled occupations for which Catholics and Protestants were in active competition. Similarly, although the Glasgow Irish were able to find employment in mills and mines, they were excluded from engineering by virtue of their lack of skill, from shipbuilding by the Orange Order and from skilled trades by the craft unions. In Edinburgh, a city of legal, literary and ecclesiastical institutions, the Irish were confined to such menial occupations as general labouring in building, domestic service, portering, street-cleaning and street-lighting Yet it is both easy and dangerous to generalize. In the first place, not all Irish immigrants, whether Catholic or Protestant, were poor. Even by mid-century there was a small middle-class world of professional men - doctors, lawyers, soldiers, shopkeepers, merchants and journalists! Irish women also formed an important sector of the migrant labour force in textile mills, laundry work, street-selling and, most notably, domestic service, and in the longer term made notable contributions to a range of low-paid professional occupations, including social work and nursing. Moreover, the economic position of the Irish was far less static than many contemporaries believed and there was a degree of differentiation in Irish occupational patterns. The survey of the Irish in Britain conducted by Hugh Heinrick in 1872 for The Nation argued that in relative terms the economic position of the Irish depended less on the structure of the Irish community in a given locality than on the economic infrastructure of the area where they worked. In developing this argument, the survey pointed to the emergence of a substantial Irish middle-class in London, to the presence of skilled workers in the Midlands and to the variable experience of the Irish in South Lancashire, where an Irish middle-class had emerged in Manchester whilst in neighbouring Wigan and St. Helens the Irish were almost wholly labourers of one description or another. Lesson 3: Irish immigrant experience 2 Victorian stereotypes The Victorians were less ready to accept such diversity among the Irish in Britain. The Victorians themselves are responsible for the persistence of a negative Irish migrant stereotype, for most contemporary writings exaggerated Irish poverty, immorality, drunkenness and Catholicism. Even the briefest reading of Carlyle’s or Kay’s outpourings reveals how the image of the Irish has crowded out any notion of their lived reality. The Irish were portrayed as the greatest nuisance of the new industrial and urban world; they were the scapegoats for a host of problems that their arrival did not manufacture and scarcely worsened. The Irish scapegoat was meant to explain the negative features of the Victorian city and perhaps to assuage those who feared them. Yet the image of the Irish as a negative and alien presence had more to do with the urban world in which they lived than with the character of the Irish themselves. For Victorians, the words ‘Irish’ and ‘slum’ were virtually interchangeable, each epitomising middle-class attitudes towards working-class lifestyles. Religion Irish Catholic identity in Victorian Britain was reinforced by manifestations of anti-Catholicism, both covert and overt. The English, Scots and Welsh were overwhelmingly Protestant by tradition and there had been a distrust of Roman Catholicism in Britain since the Reformation. Anti-Catholic feeling in England was rooted in an historic hatred of France and Spain, Catholic powers and England’s traditional enemies; in scriptural and theological arguments against Roman Catholicism; in the Settlement of 1688, which ensured the Protestant Succession of William and Mary; in the fact that the Church of England imparted a religious dimension into political life and had therefore to be protected; and in the belief
IiS, Irish immigration - teacher booklet, 23
that Roman Catholicism, with its legacy of the Inquisition, was a persecuting sect. Thus, by the end of the eighteenth century, English Protestants held that the Roman Catholic Church was both theologically unsound and politically subversive; that it was intolerant and persecuting; that it was a hindrance to the moral, intellectual and economic development of its flock; and that it should be excluded from political power. In this context, Irish Catholics were particularly vulnerable because their allegiance was to a foreigner rather than to the Crown (the head of the Protestant Church and State), hence they were also regarded as potentially, if not actually, politically subversive, a perception which Irish nationalist activity consequent upon the Act of Union of 1800 appeared to confirm. The strength of popular Protestantism was greatly reinforced by the Evangelical Revival. Thus religious issues provided a vital ingredient in determining Anglo-Irish relations on a local level during the Victorian period, although Victorian ‘No Popery’ was much more than simply anti-Irishness. Nevertheless, the terms ‘Irish’ and ‘Catholic’ were virtually synonymous in British eyes and the Irish Anti-Catholic feeling was exacerbated by the presence of Irish Protestants, largely from Ulster, in those British towns and cities also populated by Irish Catholic migrants, particularly on Clydeside and Merseyside. Indeed, such was the depth of anti-Catholic feeling that it contributed to the most serious clashes between the English and the Irish in the nineteenth century - at Stockport n 1852, Oldham in 1861, London in 1862 and during the more widespread Murphy riots in 1867-71. Work Such clashes were not, however, solely due to religious differences. There were deeper tensions, including competition for jobs. The Irish were seen as willing to work for lower wages and thus deprive the English, Scots and Welsh of jobs. At the same tine, Irish immigrants were willing to do jobs that nobody else would do. The Irish were also said to have helped to undermine working-class trades union activity through their use by employers as strike -breakers. Yet, while it is true that Irish immigrants were sometimes used to break strikes, individual Irishmen first and second generation - did become prominent trade unionists. For instance, John Doherty, founder of the National Association for the Protection of Labour, editor of the visionary Voice of the People, and one of the greatest trade union pioneers, was born and bred in Donegal. Lesson 4: Hopes & fears revisited An additional activity, which underlines the often ambivalent attitude of Irish immigrants to their experience in Britain, would be singing and analysing the famous Irish ballad ‘The Mountains of Mourne’. THE MOUNTAINS OF MOURNE
This song is a love letter from an Irish immigrant in London to Mary, his wife or sweetheart, whom he has left behind in County Down. He tells her what he has done, the people he has seen and some of the differences between life in London and Ireland.
Oh, Mary this London’s a wonderful sight, With the people here working by day and by night. They don’t sow potatoes nor barley nor wheat, But there’s gangs of them digging for gold in the street; At least, when I asked them that’s what I was told, So I just took a hand at this digging for gold, But for all that I found there I might as well be, Where the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.
I believe that when writing a wish you expressed As to how the fine ladies of London were dressed. Well if you believe me, when asked to a ball, They don’t wear a top to their dresses at all. Oh, I’ve seen them myself, and you could not in truth Say if they were bound for a ball or a bath. Don’t be starting those fashions now, Mary Macree, Where the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.
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