The Irish Empire

Overview

The story of the Irish diaspora represents a great historical triumph of the human spirit. Ireland has a present population of about four million, but it can claim seventy million descendants worldwide-seventy million people whose families turned tragedy into triumph, by fleeing poverty, hunger, and political and religious oppression to start a new life in far-flung lands. But for the Irish emigrants the pain of exile was muted by the acquisition of wealth and influence unimaginable back in their homeland. Over ...
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Overview

The story of the Irish diaspora represents a great historical triumph of the human spirit. Ireland has a present population of about four million, but it can claim seventy million descendants worldwide-seventy million people whose families turned tragedy into triumph, by fleeing poverty, hunger, and political and religious oppression to start a new life in far-flung lands. But for the Irish emigrants the pain of exile was muted by the acquisition of wealth and influence unimaginable back in their homeland. Over centuries, successive waves of Irish emigration have established an extraordinary spread of Irish communities and power bases from London to New York, from Australia to Argentina-a phenomenon which makes it possible to talk in more than just a metaphorical sense of an Irish empire.

Wherever they went, Irish emigrants took with them a strong sense of nation and ancestry, a notional empire that sustained them and shaped them in exile, despite exposure to the host culture, one which was imbued with a sentimentalized image of the society they left behind. At the same time their presence created in the minds of their hosts an idea of Ireland and 'Irishness' that has become universal.

In The Irish Empire Patrick Bishop looks at why, in the last four hundred years, to be brought up in Ireland meant being prepared to leave it, an Irish cultural mindset that has persisted almost to the present day. In doing so, he examines the Irish notion of separateness that goes as far back as the ancient Irish Gaels; the impact of the nineteenth-century Potato Famine on the pattern of Irish emigration; the early colonization of America and how the Irish provided the musclethat built the infrastructure of a new nation; the transplanted tension between Protestants and Catholics in their new lands; the enduring power of the Catholic Church; and the popular identification of British oppression as the engine that drove so many Irish abroad.

From the origins of the scattering of the Irish over the centuries to the dreams of a mythical home nurtured by so many Irish migrants today, The Irish Empire is a penetrating exploration of the Irish diaspora, and of how the Irish succeeded in turning exile abroad into opportunity and, finally, worldwide recognition.

Author Bio: Patrick Bishop, originator of the television series 'The Irish Empire,' is a former Ireland correspondent for the Observer and author of the best-selling and widely acclaimed book The Provisional IRA ('Fascinating and profound' - Irish Times.) He has also written books on the Falklands conflict and the Gulf War. Since 1986 he has been a foreign correspondent and, since 1995, Foreign Editor of the Daily Telegraph. He is currently Associate Editor at the Daily Telegraph.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Journalist Bishop (The Provisional IRA) has written a tame coffee-table book with an ambitious title. Generously illustrated with reproductions of paintings, sketches, and photos, The Irish Empire covers the well-known diaspora of nearly 70 million people around the world. Oddly, for a book about emigrants, the first three chapters scamper from the druids to wild geese, and the first boat doesn't sail until page 63. With just a 130 pages left to go from London to Manhattan to Sydney, the reader gets a highly condensed, rose-colored version of emigration. What the author offers beyond the stereotypes is a chapter on the Irish in Australia, which at least means pictures of the Outback in addition to the expected ones of Manhattan. The photo acknowledgments vastly outnumber the bibliographic entries. For public libraries with strong Irish collections and a good gift idea for the holidays, for which this book is, no doubt, intended.--Robert Moore, Raytheon, Sudbury, MA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312265274
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2000
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 8.99 (w) x 11.32 (h) x 0.72 (d)

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