Migrants, medics, matrons
Exploring the spectrum of Irish immigrants in the wartime British health sector
in Medicine, health and Irish experiences of conflict 1914–45
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Irish medical migrants had a visible presence in twentieth-century British hospitals, particularly during the Second World War. This chapter outlines the profile of migrants returning from Britain to Ireland during the Second World War by using demographic information gleaned from travel permit application forms. The chapter asks: how were medical migrants regulated as ‘legally landed aliens’ from a neutral country whilst living and working in a belligerent one? How did this regulation compare with workers in other fields? Was their personal profile similar or different to other applicants? What do the sources under scrutiny reveal about geographical patterns of settlement for migrants in the medical field? Finally, what can individual cases illuminate about conditions for Irish immigrants in wartime Britain?

The chapter demonstrates that that this migrant group was highly distinctive from the larger majority of unskilled Irish workers in Britain, known as ‘Ireland’s medical diaspora’. It also explores the vital role of Irish women in the British medical service by highlighting their diversity, agency and the ways in which their profile disrupts stereotypical narratives of immigrant women occupying marginal sectors of the British economy.

Editors: David Durnin and Ian Miller

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