Personal narratives of Irish and Scottish migration, 1921–65

‘For spirit and adventure’

Author: Angela McCarthy

Between 1921 and 1965, Irish and Scottish migrants continued to seek new homes abroad. This book examines the experience of migration and settlement in North America and Australasia. It goes beyond traditional transnational and diasporic approaches, usually focused on two countries, and considers a range of destinations in which two migrant groups settled. The book aims to reclaim individual memory from within the broad field of collective memory to obtain 'glimpses into the lived interior of the migration processes'. The propaganda relating to emigration emanating from both Ireland and Scotland posited emigration as draining the life-blood of these societies. It then discusses the creation of collective experiences from a range of diverse stories, particularly in relation to the shared experiences of organising the passage, undertaking the voyage out, and arriving at Ellis Island. The depiction at the Ellis Island Museum is a positive memory formation, emphasising the fortitude of migrants. Aware that past recollections are often shaped by contemporary concerns, these memories are also analysed within the broader context in which remembering takes place. The book then examines migrant encounters with new realities in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. The formal nature of ethnic and national identities for Irish and Scottish migrants, as exhibited by language, customs, and stereotypes, is also explored. The novelty of alleged Irish and Scottish characteristics emphasised in accounts presumably goes some way to explaining the continued interest among the children of migrants. These ongoing transnational connections also proved vital when migrants considered returning home.

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