'"Because she never let them in": Irish Immigration a Century Ago and Today'

John Coffin Memorial Lecture in Irish Studies

Professor Emeritus Cormac Ó Gráda (University College Dublin): ' "Because she never let them in": Irish Immigration a Century Ago and Today'

In June 1904, when a minor character in James Joyce's Ulysses attributed Irish tolerance towards Jews to a policy of 'not letting them in', Ireland was a land of emigration, not immigration. And so it would continue to be until very recently. Two decades ago, only six percent of the population was born outside of Ireland, and most of those came from either the United Kingdom or the United States. Today, however, foreign-born residents make up one-sixth of all inhabitants. Not only is the recent influx unprecedented; it is also massive by present-day European standards.

The lecture will begin with a comparative analysis of two tiny immigrant communities that settled in Ireland a century ago, and how they fared. It will then shift to the present and place the recent influx in comparative and historical perspective. Would history prove Joyce's Mr. Deasy right? At first sight, the lack in Ireland of the organized political response to immigration found almost everywhere else in Europe is both surprising and reassuring. But are things as they seem? Using a variety of attitudinal and other data, we address the native response to mass immigration.

Professor Ó Gráda's research interests include: the economic and demographic history of Irish jewry, the comparative history of famines, Irish historical demography, the comparative history of savings institutions, financial panics, the economic history of the Irish border. His publications include (2009) Famine: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton University Press; (2006) Jewish Ireland in the Age of Joyce: A Social Science History. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (2006) Ireland's Great Famine: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Dublin: UCD Press. He is co-editor of European Review of Economic History.

Institute of English Studies
Professor Emeritus Cormac Ó Gráda (University College Dublin)
Event date: 
Thursday, 9 May 2013 - 1:00am
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