Click here to skip to content

Irish Diaspora Introduction

People have left the island of Ireland for many centuries and for many reasons, e.g. economic, political, social, religious, personal. The most striking features about this emigration were its duration, scale and gender balance. Uniquely among other European emigrant groups Irish emigration consisted of almost 50% women and mostly young, single women.

Irish people have contributed to their countries of adoption in many ways as academics, business people, civil servants, doctors, domestics, dramatists, entertainers, journalists, labourers, lawyers, missionaries, navvies, nurses, poets, politicians, revolutionary leaders, soldiers, teachers, trade unionists, writers, to name but a few.

Due to the success of the Irish economy and Ireland’s performance and enhanced status on European and international levels this trend of outward migration is being reversed. The country is experiencing two strands of inward migration: Irish emigrants returning and new people arriving from other countries, cultures and ethnicities leading to more ethnic and cultural diversity and vibrancy.

Under the following headings are listed some general guides, bibliographies, works and websites which researchers may find useful. These listings are not intended to be comprehensive but to give some indication of the range and depth of material available on the Irish Diaspora at the British Library.