Emigrants and Exiles

Emigrants and Exiles : Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America

3.76 (78 ratings by Goodreads)
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From the early 1700s to the early 1900s nearly seven million people emigrated from Ireland to North America. Emigrants and Exiles chronicles the various causes of the Irish emigration, and its far-reaching impact - on the people themselves, on the land they left behind, and on the new one they came to.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 696 pages
  • 165.1 x 231.14 x 48.26mm | 1,133.98g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1M.
  • 0195035941
  • 9780195035940

Review Text

A scholarly study in great depth and detail of the enormous waves of emigration from Ireland, mostly to Canada and the US between the early 17th century and the birth of the Irish Free State in 1922. In that time as many as seven million people moved across the Atlantic in search of a decent life, a tremendous number to leave such a small country. At times the emigration hemorrhage was so great as to leave some parts of Ireland virtually empty of people. To a much greater degree than emigres from the continent, Miller says, the Irish were afflicted by a powerful, often debilitating homesickness. Most viewed themselves as permanent, unwilling exiles from their beloved homeland, forced out by the malevolent British occupiers who had reduced the Irish people to penury. For many emigres, says Miller, there were other reasons. One was Irish inheritance customs which decreed that each son must inherit an equal portion of the family farm, thus ensuring that the plots of land became ever smaller. One or two sons were chosen to emigrate so the others would inherit enough land to live on. Again, contrary to the stereotype of the emigrant as poverty-stricken Catholics, in some periods they were middle-class Ulster Protestants or relatively well-off Catholics from the south who, in the best capitalist tradition, were seeking a way to make a bigger buck. Miller divides the emigration into three waves: prior to the potato famine, during the famine of 1840-45, and from the end of the famine to independence. The causes, motivations and personality types in each wave were quite different. Miller also examines how the Irish fared in the US and finds that large numbers did not do much better than if they had remained at home (many hated their new country). He follows them into the second generation and traces their rise above prejudice and poverty and into politics, business and the professions. Miller used original research sources, largely the letters home and the journals kept by the emigrants; excerpts from these lend the work a poignancy that nothing else could. Miller, an American, learned enough of the Irish language to be able to interpret for the reader the mores of Irish peasant life, thus putting the emigrations into a cultural context that makes them more comprehensible. A sensitive interpreter, his descriptions of that lifestyle are detailed and fascinating. A solid, well-written piece of scholarship that provides a significant illumination of an important historical movement. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

78 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 24% (19)
4 40% (31)
3 26% (20)
2 9% (7)
1 1% (1)
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