Astudiaeth ysgolheigaidd o fewnfudwyr Gwyddelig a'u disgynyddion yng Nghymru, 1798-1992, sef fersiwn diwygiedig o draethawd ymchwil yr awdur, gan dynnu sylw'n benodol at ffactorau economaidd a barodd y mewnfudo, ac at gyfraniad sylweddol y cymunedau Gwyddelig i strwythur gwleidyddol a diwydiannol, crefyddol a chymdeithasol Cymru. 2 fap. Cyhoeddwyd gyntaf yn 2000.
A scholary study of Irish immigrants and their descendants in Wales, 1798-1922, being a revised version of the author's PhD thesis making particular reference to the economic conditions that caused the immigration, and the significant contribution of the Irish communities to the political and industrial, religious and social structure of Wales. 2 maps. First published in 2000.
The publication of the paperback edition of Paul OLearys Immigration and Integration: The Irish in Wales, 1798 1922 occurs at an appropriate time. Currently, the debate on the role of immigrants in Welsh and British societies is at fever pitch. Those engaged in this debate could do much worse than ponder some of Dr OLearys conclusions and observations. The major lesson of the book, perhaps, is that the living tissue of human events is far more complicated than the lazy stereotypes and glib characterisations of the press, politics and propaganda allow.
In the early nineteenth century, the newspapers of Wales presented the Irish with very little sympathy. The reports evoke images of debased people suffering drunkenness, vagrancy, papism and wildness. Even the passive, innocent victims of atrocious social dislocation, disease and destition, received little sympathy. In the 1840s, the Swansea newspaper, The Cambrian, reported the heart-string-tugging journey of an Irish mother on foot from Haverfordwest across south Wales. Along the journey four of her children died. On the outskirts of Cardiff she was apprehended, carrying the dead body of her last child. In none of the reports is her tragedy given the dignity of a human name. The major concern of the paper is the threat posed by this pilgrimage of death and sorrow to the health of local people. The reports reveal the hostility with which the Welsh hosts regarded their Celtic brethren. On occasion this hostility erupted into open hatred and violence. Between 1826 and 1882, there were twenty anti-Irish riots in Wales. These outbreaks took place not just in the industrial south east, but also across Wales, wherever the railways drew the Irish to labour.
Gradually, in a complex and contradictory process of integration, the hostility mellowed into a grudging acceptance by the Welsh that the Irish, like the poor, would always be with them. Paul OLeary uses one symbol to characterise this process. This is the large crowd, which attended the funeral of 'Peerless' Jim Driscoll, the Welsh boxer of Irish extraction, who died in 1925. Dr OLearys great achievement is to delineate this process of integration without losing sight of the profound economic and social changes that swept over Wales in the period 17981922.
Useful insights emerge from Dr OLearys studies that question many of the safe assumptions of Welsh History, particularly regarding conceptualisations of the process of creating an industrial labour force, the relationships between authority and discipline in the workplace, the adaptation of rural immigrants to urban society, and changing patterns of religious worship.
This is a well-written, carefully analysed and perceptive study of the experiences of the second largest group of immigrants into Wales. In some periods, especially the late 1840s, this is a poignant and tragic story. In these years of death and destitution, the Irish fled the famine of their Hibernian homes, for the cholera of Wales. Scarcely in history can journeys of desperation have led to greater despair and disaster. One cannot but feel sympathy for people who sought to flee the unbearable only to find themselves in the unendurable.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.