London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Irish in Britain Seminar 2010

Irish in Britain Seminar Series 2010

10 May - 7 June


The recent upturn in Irish migration indicates that London and the south-east of England continues to be one of the most favoured destinations of Irish migrants into the 21st Century.  This year's seminar series focuses on a range of social, political and cultural experiences in the region for both the Irish-born and those of Irish descent over the last sixty-five years.

10 May, Dr Anna Davin, History Workshop Journal

An Irish New Zealander in Post-War Oxford

My Irish New Zealand parents came to Oxford at the end of the war, when my father started a publishing job at the Oxford University Press. My sisters and I grew up there very conscious of being not really English. In this talk I'll explore the ways in which my parents negotiated their entry into Oxford circles, how the Irish - and New Zealand - background impinged on us, and the complexities of belonging and difference.

Anna Davin did a history degree at Warwick University in the 1960s as a 'mature student' with three children, then took twenty-two years to complete a PhD at Birkbeck. This resulted in her book Growing Up Poor in London, 1870-1914: Home, School and Street (1996). Meanwhile she was involved in socialist feminist politics, the History Workshop movement, and people's history groups in Hackney and Waterloo. From 1979 till 2002, she also taught adult education courses in women's history and London history for the London Extra-Mural Dept (later Birkbeck), at Middlesex University, Roehampton, and Binghamton University, New York State. She is an editor of History Workshop Journal and teaches skills courses in oral history. 

17 May, Ethel Corduff, Royal College of Nursing
Irish Nurses in London in the Post-War Years

Demand for nurses was high in Britain during the Second World War as many British nurses were overseas. In addition, nursing was not a popular occupation for British people, as the work was considered menial and poorly paid. Unemployment in Ireland in the 1940s was high and many Irish people (mainly women) were recruited for British hospitals and stayed on after the war. With the creation of the National Health Service in 1947, an even larger labour force of nurses was required and student nurses from overseas, many of them Irish, played an essential role in establishing and maintaining the service, particularly in London.

Ethel Corduff is from Tralee, County Kerry and came to England in 1964. She nursed in the National Health Service for thirty-eight years and is an active member of the History of Nursing Society at the Royal College of Nursing. She has been conducting research into Irish nurses for many years and has published articles and short stories on nursing history, Irish women in Britain and mental illness. She has a degree in Health and Irish Studies and first presented her research on Irish nurses at the Irish Studies Centre in the late 1980s. She is currently completing a book on the subject.

24 May, Dr Róisín Ryan-Flood, University of Essex
Sexuality, Citizenship and Migration: The Irish Diaspora in London

This paper will provide an overview of an ongoing research project that examines the experiences of Irish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people living in London. Various writers have noted the appeal of global cities to LGBT people. Metropolitan centres are associated with tolerance of sexual diversity and established queer communities. There is a long history of Irish migration to the UK, particularly London. This has coincided historically with many Irish LGBT people feeling compelled to emigrate in search of a more tolerant and supportive social climate. The study explores Irish LGBT migrants' reasons for moving to London and
experiences there. Research questions address notions of home, identity, belonging and family relationships. The ways in which identities become circulated in global contexts and are rearticulated, as well as the significance of migration in the formation of Irish queer subjectivities, are examined. By exploring the relationship between sexuality, ethnicity and migration, the study attempts to uncover the ways in which contemporary sexual citizenship, migration and queer imaginaries of the metropolis are mutually implicated in complex ways. This paper considers some of the implications of the research findings for wider theories of
sexual citizenship.

Róisín Ryan-Flood is a Lecturer in Sociology and Director of the Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship (CISC) at the University of Essex. Her research interests include gender, sexuality, citizenship, kinship, migration and critical epistemologies. Her publications include the
monograph Lesbian Motherhood: Gender, Families and Sexual Citizenship (Palgrave, 2009) and a co-edited book (with Rosalind Gill), Secrecy and Silence in the Research Process: Feminist Reflections (Routledge, 2009). She has edited several journal special issues on topics such as sexuality and visual culture; migration; and feminist epistemology. Her current research explores sexual citizenship and diaspora.

7 June, Dr. Sean Campbell, Anglia Ruskin University
Dwellers on the Threshold: Making a London-Irish ‘Home’ with The Pogues

This paper explores the work of The Pogues as an expressly London-Irish intervention in British (and Irish) popular music culture. Drawing on original interviews with the band members, including Shane MacGowan, Cait O’Riordan and Philip Chevron (as well as extensive archival research of print and audio-visual media), it explores the band’s oeuvre as an expression of second-generation Irish life in 1980s Britain. The paper also reflects on The Pogues’ reception in mid-1980s Ireland, where the band became the focus of caustic attacks by both musicians and journalists, many of whom saw The Pogues as suspect interlopers making unwelcome incursions into Irish culture. The paper suggests that the band’s work often served as a negotiation of ‘dwelling-in-displacement’, locating The Pogues’ project on the threshold of an Irish-English interface, a hybrid in-between space that might be seen as both a wellspring and a burden.

Sean Campbell is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Media at Anglia Ruskin in Cambridge. His research interests are in the areas of popular culture, Irish studies and migration/ethnicity. His publications include Beautiful Day, a history of Irish rock (co-written with Gerry Smyth), and a forthcoming book of essays on The Smiths for Manchester University Press. His next book will be Combat Rock: Popular Music and the 'Troubles', an exploration of popular musical interventions on the Northern Ireland conflict. He recently completed an AHRC-funded monograph on second-generation Irish musicians, which includes original interviews with the book's key figures, including Shane MacGowan, Cait O'Riordan, Kevin Rowland and Johnny Marr. His paper tonight is drawn from this work.

Seminars will take place between 6.30 -8.00pm in The Old Staff Café
London Metropolitan University, Tower Building, 166-220 Holloway Road

ALL WELCOME - Refreshments provided

The Irish Studies Centre has provided a forum for teaching, learning and research since 1986.  The Irish in Britain Seminar Series offers an informal but informative forum for students, researchers and scholars to debate and disseminate the latest research on Ireland, migration and the diaspora.

For further information contact Tony Murray:



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