London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Irish in Britain Seminar 2009

Irish in Britain Seminar Series 2009

After a decade or so of decline in Irish emigration, the numbers of Irish people coming to Britain have started to rise again in the last eighteen months.  It is still too early to say whether this is the beginning of another major wave of Irish migration as witnessed in the 1950s and 1980s.  If it is, it is likely to have very different features to previous waves in the context of the current worldwide recession.

The Irish in Britain Seminar Series provides an opportunity for students, researchers and scholars of Irish Studies to debate and disseminate the latest research in the field, in the light of these developments. For over twenty years this Irish Studies Centre has provided a forum for teaching, learning and research and this seminar series is an informal but informative means and opportunity for anyone interested in engaging with current issues and research about the Irish in Britain.

26 May, Professor Bronwen Walter, Anglia Ruskin University
Fictional Irish Presences in English Diaspora Space: a Social Science Exploration

Irish characters appear in English fiction often almost unnoticed by both authors and readers. This paper explores the idea that these presences may reveal taken-for-granted, mundane, background knowledge drawn on by ‘English’ fiction writers which may illuminate Avtah Brah’s powerful but elusive notion of diaspora space. I will examine four novels - by Helen Dunmore, Zoe Heller, Jon McGregor and Kate Atkinson - as examples of recent ‘English’ fiction in which the lived worlds of the apparently-English are shown to be threaded through with hybridised but not assimilated Irishness. The paper will reflect on the use of literary evidence to answer questions in the social sciences.

Bronwen Walter is Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies at Anglia Ruskin University and is internationally recognised for her research on Irish migration to Britain and the wider experiences of the Irish diaspora. Her academic publications include a monograph Outsiders inside: whiteness, place and Irish women (Routledge, 2001) and articles and chapters on a wide range of aspects of Irish emigration and settlement abroad. Her current research focuses on multi-generational Irish identities in England, Newfoundland and Australasia, and her particular interests lie in comparing trajectories of whiteness and Irishness, exploring English/Irish hybridities and examining linkages between genealogies and citizenship.

2 June, Dr Ann Rossiter
Hidden Histories: The Irish 'Abortion Trail' and the Undercover Support Network within the London-Irish Community

Every year since 1967 when abortion statistics were first compiled, approximately 5,000 women from the Republic and 1,500 from Northern Ireland are recorded as crossing the Irish Sea to terminate their pregnancies in Britain.  They come and go like 'ships in the night', their passage being largely unremarked in Irish migration lore.  Ann Rossiter, who has recently published 'Ireland's Hidden Diaspora', a compilation of oral histories of London-Irish women who supported many abortion seekers between 1980 and 2000, describes the support network, the historical and political background to its work, and its relationship to the Irish community in London.

Ann Rossiter is a London-Irish feminist activist since the early 1970s.  She has been involved in the struggle for Irish women's reproductive rights and in women's issues concerned with the Irish National Question.  She has also written on these subjects.  She taught Irish Studies at a number of institutions, including London Metropolitan, Birkbeck and Luton universities, as well as at the College of North West London.

10 June, Dr Nicole McLennan, London Metropolitan University
Irish Connections: London's County Associations

This paper will explore connections made by members of London's County
Associations.  Most of the County Associations were established in the
1950s, a time when there were many new arrivals from Ireland, but few
organisations to support the them in their new environment.  In this
historical context, my paper will look at the work undertaken by the
Council and the County Associations to bring Irish men and women
together and also their efforts to maintain connections with communities
at home in Ireland. This discussion will also be placed in the context
of the current Archival project being conducted with the Council of
Irish County Associations and the Archive of the Irish in Britain.

Dr Nicole McLennan is a research assistant at the Archive of the Irish
in Britain, London Metropolitan University.  Over the past year she has
been working with the Council of Irish County Associations on a
Dion-funded Archival project to collect and preserve the records of the
Council and the individual County Associations.

16 June, Dr Reg Hall
Researching the Irish in Britain: Methodological Approaches

This seminar will focus on identifying & collecting evidence, with particular emphasis on interview techniques, oral testimony and written sources such as newspapers.

Dr. Reg Hall has been an active traditional musician in the Irish community
in London since the 1950s and has produced many recordings of archive
material and seminal performers. He is working on The History of Irish
Music & Dance in London, 1845-1980, the subject of his post-graduate study
and a proposed publication.

Seminars will take place between 6.30 - 8.00pm in
The Old Staff Café
London Metropolitan University
166-220 Holloway Road
London N7 8DB



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