Archives For September 8, 2017
For Irish emigrants, the exile motif had extraordinary potency. At its heart lay two related beliefs: that the emigrants had been banished by the British rather than leaving voluntarily, and that the wounds inflicted by British misrule continued to plague them abroad, explaining their ongoing exploitation and poverty. Neither of these beliefs could withstand close scrutiny. Ireland was a British colony, to be sure, but with the exception of the Famine era, British policies rarely played a direct role in Irish emigration. And, despite their initial poverty, the American Irish prospered within a couple of generations; in the British settler colonies they did even better.