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Divergent pathsFamily histories of Irish emigrants in Britain 1820-1920$
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John Herson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719090639

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719090639.001.0001

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Labouring families in the Famine’s aftermath, 1852 onwards

Labouring families in the Famine’s aftermath, 1852 onwards

(p.133) 6 Labouring families in the Famine’s aftermath, 1852 onwards
Divergent paths

John Herson

Manchester University Press

More labouring families settled in Stafford after the Famine than arrived during it and this chapter examines those who arrived after 1852. There are four case studies. The McDermott family were poor but despite marital problems they integrated into the local community and descendants achieved modest status. Jane Duffy illustrates the problems faced by lone female migrants. She experienced widowhood, single-motherhood and desertion. The Walsh family were unique in identifying with Irish nationalism, and they rejected Stafford. The McMahon/Mitchell/Shiel family shows how some members had a strategy towards respectability within local society whereas others integrated into Stafford’s poor working class. The chapter shows how the prime factors conditioning the divergent paths taken by labouring families were the character of family relationships and interactions with their environment. These families often conform to the common image of Irish migrants but the family history evidence demonstrates the complexity and variability of their lives and undermines simple ethnic stereotypes.

Keywords:   McDermott, Duffy, Walsh, Shiel, Mitchell, Single parent, Respectability, Ethnic stereotypes, Family strategy

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