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Memoirs from below: twentieth-century narratives of the Irish in Britain

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dc.contributor.advisor O'Toole, Tina O'Keeffe, Robert 2014-11-10T17:04:43Z 2014-11-10T17:04:43Z 2013
dc.description peer-reviewed en_US
dc.description.abstract This thesis examines twentieth-century memoirs and autobiographies from Irish migrants to Britain, focusing particularly on the period 1930–1960. This time period roughly corresponds with the peak of a sustained wave of migration between Ireland and Britain. The thesis seeks to explore the validity of stereotypes that have grown up around the Irish migrant community who settled in Britain at this time. These stereotypes, engrained at cultural and governmental levels, characterise the Irish migrant as male, hard-drinking, navvy-type figures. This thesis looks beyond the metonym and explores the individuality that hides behind a façade of homogeneity. The effectiveness and appeal of the genre of autobiography as a means of expressing the complexities of migrant experience is dealt with in the opening chapter. The thesis then scrutinises several texts drawn from the “navvy” tradition, identifying many common themes and tropes within this sub-genre. Ultimately, however, these texts prove to be highly individual, offering the author the opportunity to express individuality and difference from a position of safety within a distinct community. The experiences of Irish women migrants are also examined with particular attention paid to the possible reasons for a relative paucity of autobiographical texts from this section of the migrant community. This thesis identifies a tendency for women to view Britain as a haven or refuge rather than as a place of exile. It also looks at how Irish women were viewed as being more assimilable into British society. Conversely, it also documents how issues like transnational care served to destabilise precarious identities. The final chapter deals with memoirs from second-generation Irish migrants. These texts are marked by a distinct conflict between competing identities and ethnicities. Many of these second-generation texts document the mental strain of being Irish at home yet British to the wider world. The thesis concludes by noting that, while there are evident commonalities of experience within these migrant memoirs, they serve as an eloquent reminder that stereotypes are ultimately simplistic and reductive and belie the individuality of the migrant subject. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher University of Limerick en_US
dc.subject Irish migrants en_US
dc.subject Britain en_US
dc.subject Ireland en_US
dc.title Memoirs from below: twentieth-century narratives of the Irish in Britain en_US
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/masterThesis en_US
dc.type.supercollection all_ul_research en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_published_reviewed en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_theses_dissertations en_US
dc.rights.accessrights info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess en_US

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