Refugees from the Famine
in Divergent paths
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The book now moves to the labouring families who arrived during the Famine. Although many families arrived en bloc, almost equal numbers of new family units were established after people’s arrival in Stafford. The long-term trajectories of the Famine families divide almost equally between those who integrated and those proving to be long-term transient, whilst just under a fifth proved to be terminal and died out.

There are three case studies. The Coleman family achieved respectability through a strategy of integrating into local society, a strategy that was largely determined by the women through a network of strong kinship support. The Kelly family demonstrated symptoms possible trauma and of alienation from both Stafford and Irish society. The Jordan family ultimately withered away in Stafford.

The chapter reviews the Famine labouring families and suggests that in many families there was inter-generational tension, some of which reflected problems of identity. There is also evidence that some Famine immigrants wished to make a clean break with their Irish past.

Divergent paths

Family histories of Irish emigrants in Britain, 1820–1920

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