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Resistance, adaptation and identity
Author: Mervyn Busteed

Given its significance in the history of Britain as the pioneer city of the industrial revolution, it is surprising that until the 1990s there was little academic research on the Manchester Irish. This book examines the development of the Irish community in Manchester, one of the most dynamic cities of nineteenth-century Britain. It examines the process by which the Irish came to be blamed for all the ills of the Industrial Revolution and the ways in which they attempted to cope with a sometimes actively hostile environment. The book first traces the gradual development of links between Manchester and Ireland, largely through the build-up of commercial connections, but also noting the two-way movement of people across the Irish Sea. Then, it focuses on Angel Meadow, discussing the rapid build-up of the resident Irish population and the spatial distribution of the Irish in the network of streets. An account on the significance of the Catholic Church for the migrant Irish follows. The book also examines the evolution St Patrick's Day. Next, it discusses how Manchester's Irish related to the broader political concerns of the city during the period from the 1790s to the 1850s whilst retaining a keen interest in Irish affairs. The role of the Irish in the electoral politics of the city from the 1870s onwards is subsequently examined. After an analyses on the evolution of the commemoration rituals for the Manchester Martyrs, the book attempts to trace the hidden history of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) in Manchester.

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Evolution of a celebration
Mervyn Busteed

In Ireland, not only does St Patrick perform the role of patron saint, but the date claimed for his death, 17 March, also provides the Irish with their national day, celebrated in religious services and secular festivity. The public celebration of 17 March amongst the Irish in nineteenth-century Manchester followed a distinct trajectory from well-lubricated inclusive gatherings to increasingly respectable and carefully structured events with a notably Catholic and nationalist flavour performed before multiple audiences. This chapter examines the evolution of the Irish public festival, St Patrick's Day. In Manchester the public celebration of St Patrick's Day was a multi-dimensional festival which underwent significant changes of theme and emphasis. During the war celebrations were muted and from 1916 onwards the political tone became entirely absent, overwhelmed by simple relief and celebration at the end of the War of Independence.

in The Irish in Manchester c. 1750–1921
Mervyn Busteed

From 1790s to 1850s the Manchester Irish were involved in a variety of political activities, some dedicated to violent separatism, some to peaceful reform, some focused on Ireland, at other times concerned with issues preoccupying British society in general. This chapter examines the role of the Irish in the electoral politics of the city from the 1870s onwards. The presence of the Irish amongst those who demonstrated for parliamentary reform and trade union rights at Peterloo in 1819, as well as Daniel O'Connell's campaigns for Catholic emancipation are discussed. The various Chartist campaigns illustrated the stresses and strains on the basis of religion and political priorities, with the result that the Chartist-Confederate revolutionary alliance feared by the Catholic Church and the authorities. Particular attention is paid to the fact that the much feared Irish-Chartist alliance in the revolutionary year of 1848 may actually have been a fleeting reality in Manchester.

in The Irish in Manchester c. 1750–1921
Mervyn Busteed

Participation in the electoral process can be viewed as both a means of incorporating the Irish into the British body politic and simultaneously a means of differentiating them from the rest of the population. This chapter examines the role of the Irish in the electoral politics of Manchester from the 1870s onwards. It does so through the medium of council, Manchester School Board and municipal elections and traces the development of local nationalist thought and tactics on the two issues which particularly concerned the Irish population. These are the Irish self-government and church-based education, through the elections and the themes of the public meetings which took place in the city between 1870 and 1921. The Liberal adoption of home rule as party policy in 1885 in some senses drew the Irish into a closer alliance within the political system.

in The Irish in Manchester c. 1750–1921
Mervyn Busteed

This chapter analyses the evolution of the commemoration rituals for the Manchester Martyrs, executed in November 1867. From the late 1850s to the early 1870s the Fenian movement would retain a fair amount of support in Ireland and Britain, after the Manchester Martyrs incident of 1867, which was to become the most enduring public commemoration in the nationalist tradition. The chapter traces how the events of the 1916 Dublin rising unnerved moderate nationalists in the city until by 1920 the ritual was passing into the control of Sinn Féin and its local support group. In so doing it was able to insert a more confident and assertive form of Irish nationalism into the traditions and public spaces of the city. But by the early years of the new century there were also indications in Manchester that the new dimension of Irish nationalism was making its presence felt in the city.

in The Irish in Manchester c. 1750–1921
Mervyn Busteed

Following the events surrounding the rescue of Thomas J. Kelly and Timothy Deasy, the execution of the Manchester Martyrs and the subsequent panic, it is difficult to estimate the strength of the Fenian movement in Manchester and elsewhere in Britain. This chapter traces the hidden history of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) in Manchester in the years following the incidents of 1867 and notes how the organization had almost faded away by the 1890s. It talks about the participation of a small group of Manchester people in the rising of 1916 and activities of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) between 1919 and 1921. The chapter outlines the gradual revival of a more militant brand of Irish nationalism, the participation of a small group of Manchester people in the rising of 1916 and activities. The persistent edginess culminated in the Dublin rising of 1916 and the subsequent War of Independence.

in The Irish in Manchester c. 1750–1921
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Mervyn Busteed

By the end of the eighteenth century better economic opportunities in Britain were attracting increasing numbers of Irish, who settled as permanent residents in Manchester. They were drawn into the civic life of one of the most prosperous cities of the nineteenth-century British state, accepting its norms and traditions whilst arguing for some distinctively Irish preoccupations. The Catholic Church played a role, and it was partly its influence which saw the 17 March celebrations of St. Patrick's Day become increasingly structured and respectable. The growing Irish presence in Britain in early nineteenth century also provoked a revival of those anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiments which were key dimensions of historic English, and later British, popular nationalism. Residential clustering and church-based community life were therefore factors which helped keep the Irish apart and preserve a distinctive presence.

in The Irish in Manchester c. 1750–1921
Angel Meadow
Mervyn Busteed

From 1845 to the early 1850s there was a rapid growth of Irish numbers in Manchester as refugees from the famine sought relief. The cause of the famine was the fungus phythophthora infestans, commonly referred to as 'blight'. This chapter focuses on Angel Meadow, a long-lived Irish neighbourhood on the northern side of the city. It examines the rapid build-up of the resident Irish population of the city in the late 1840s and discusses the spatial distribution of the Irish in the network of streets set back from the main roads of the Angel Meadow study area. Underlying the concern for the living conditions and health of the inhabitants of such districts was a multi-layered fear of total societal breakdown, verging at times on moral panic. The pattern of residential segregation that emerged in mid-century lies in a combination of economic resources, the Manchester context and Irish social solidarity.

in The Irish in Manchester c. 1750–1921
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Mervyn Busteed

It is generally agreed that the Catholic Church played a highly significant role in almost every dimension of the life of Irish migrants in nineteenth-century Britain. This chapter traces the impact of the Irish on the Catholic population of Manchester and its internal dynamics, the reactions of local Protestants, the gradual build-up of church institutions and its shifting concerns. It discusses the extent to which the church remained Irish in outlook and preoccupations. The chapter examines how from the earliest times there were concerns amongst the clergy about the external dangers threatening the faithful. These took the form of Protestant prejudice, often stirred up by local preachers, and Protestant proselytism through the allocation of Catholic orphans and foundlings to non-Catholic homes. The Salford Diocese Catholic Protection and Rescue Society was one of the most notable guardians of the boundaries of faith and morals.

in The Irish in Manchester c. 1750–1921
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Mervyn Busteed

Given its significance in the history of Britain as the pioneer city of the industrial revolution, it is surprising that until the 1990s there was little academic research on the Manchester Irish. This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on the Irish in Manchester during the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth. It highlights the place the Irish devised for themselves in the life of the city, with reference to the extent to which they preserved their sense of Irish identity whilst making their way in one of the most dynamic world cities of the period. The extent to which they retained their identity through communal social solidarity, residential clustering, religious loyalties, communal celebration and political aspiration, whilst adapting the institutions, mores and institutions of the host society is studied.

in The Irish in Manchester c. 1750–1921