Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Leaving Home: For Hundreds of Years

Reading 'Star of the Sea' by Joseph O'Connor, reccommended to me by my Father, I was struck by the many and varied ways we see the lives of those fleeing from famine and destitution to America in the 1840s. On the 26 day voyage, we read letters, headlines and announcements, hear stories of the past in Ireland and see the lives conflict on board the Star of the Sea. 

It is not hard to see where the migrant culture of Ireland has come from. It is not hard to see why the population of Ireland is only 4.8 million today compared to that of the city of London's which is 8.6 million.  It is not hard to see why, by the time Ireland achieved independence in 1921, that Ireland's population had dropped to only half what it was in the 1840s and why it's still less than it was before the famine over a hundred and fifty years ago.

It is said that there are more Irish abroad than in Ireland. Global Irish has some sources saying that the diaspora total number is 70 million. 

According to The Washington Post, the census of 2013, had 34.5 million Americans who listed their heritage as Irish. The headline read:

The Irish-American Population is Seven times larger than in Ireland 

Yet in the Irish Times, John Grenham says 'Nobody ever left Ireland to go to America.' And I understand what he meant. I never left Ireland to go to Italy. I left for a job, opportunity, experience and a new life. But mostly I left because of the people, the Irish and Italian links, like when I left for London,  just like Grenham mentions in his article. People left Ireland to go to jobs or opportunities with family and friends and they were all in America.

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