“Coeval but Out of Kilter”: Diaspora, Modernity and “Authenticity” in Irish Emigrant Worker Writing

  • Michael Pierse
Part of the Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship book series (MDC)


Across various fields of cultural production, the Irish diaspora’s impact on how Ireland markets itself abroad and sculpts its identity within has profoundly shaped the Irish imaginary. Within this imaginary, a range of contradictions and silences abound. Among them is the frequent omission of worker narratives and proletarian struggles from often sanitised representations of Irish diasporic experience. By applying David Lloyd’s ideas on the “non-modern” and “out of kilter” “recalcitrant culture” of Ireland under Empire to early twentieth-century narratives of Irish emigrant experience in Britain, Pierse considers how Patrick MacGill’s, James Hanley’s and Robert Tressell’s writings depict the Irish abroad and their relationship to concepts of “home.” The chapter considers how these narratives have salient lessons for our conceptualisation of the Irish diaspora today.

Works Cited

  1. Allen, Joan. 2016. Uneasy Transitions: Irish Nationalism, the Rise of Labour and the Catholic Herald, 1888–1918. In The British Labour Party and Twentieth-Century Ireland: The Cause of Ireland, the Cause of Labour, ed. L. Marley, 35–54. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  3. Armstrong, Nancy. 2006. How Novels Think: The Limits of Individualism from 1719–1900. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Ballagh, Robert. 2013. 1913 Lockout Remembered by Robert Ballagh. In The Gathering: Reflections on Ireland, ed. M. Donohoe, 244–245. Dublin: Irish Hospice Foundation.Google Scholar
  5. Booker, M. Keith. 1997. Colonial Power, Colonial Texts: India in the Modern British Novel. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Coogan, Tim Pat. 2000. Wherever Green Is Worn: The Story of the Irish Diaspora. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  7. Deane, Seamus. 1985. Extremes. London Review of Books 7 (2): 12–15.Google Scholar
  8. Edwards, Owen Dudley. 1986. Patrick MacGill and the Making of a Historical Source: With a Handlist of His Works. The Innes Review 37 (2): 73–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Engel, Leonard. 2001. Ford, John. In The Guide to United States Popular Culture, ed. R.B. Browne and P. Browne, 291–292. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  10. Flynn, Elizabeth Gurley. 1973. The Rebel Girl. New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
  11. Ford, John (Director). 1952. The Quiet Man. Republic Pictures.Google Scholar
  12. Fordham, John. 2002. James Hanley: Modernism and the Working Class. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.Google Scholar
  13. French, Brandon. 1978. On the Verge of Revolt: Women in American Films of the Fifties. New York: Frederick Ungar.Google Scholar
  14. Giemza, Bryan. 2003. The Technique of Sorrow: Patrick MacGill and the American Slave Narrative. New Hibernia Review/Iris Éireannach Nua 7 (2): 73–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Graham, Colin. 2001. Deconstructing Ireland: Identity, Theory, Culture. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Griffin, Brendan, and Eimear Ging. 2013. Case Study 10: Re-enactment as an Aspect of Cultural Tourism. In Cultural Tourism, ed. R. Raj, K. Griffin, and N.D. Morpeth, 212–225. Boston: CAB International.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hanley, James. 1935. The Furys. London: Chatto & Windus.Google Scholar
  18. Haywood, Ian. 1997. Working-Class Fiction: From Chartism to Trainspotting. Plymouth: Northcote.Google Scholar
  19. hooks, bell. 1990. Choosing the Margin as a Space of Radical Openness. In Yearning: Race, Gender and Cultural Politics, 145–154. Boston: South End Press.Google Scholar
  20. Lee, J.J., and Marion R. Casey, eds. 2006. Making the Irish American: History and Heritage of the Irish in the United States. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Lloyd, David. 1999. Ireland After History. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  22. ———. 2013. What’s in a Name: The Dialectics of Diaspora and Irish Emigration. Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies. Accessed 10 Jan 2017.
  23. ———. 2014. The Indigent Sublime: Specters of Irish Hunger. In Memory Ireland, Volume 3: The Famine and the Troubles, ed. O. Frawley, 17–58. New York: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
  24. MacGill, Patrick. 1914. Children of the Dead End—The Autobiography of a Navvy. London: Herbert Jenkins.Google Scholar
  25. Maguire, Siobhan. 2013. 1913 Lockout Float Banned from Parade. The Sunday Times, March 17.Google Scholar
  26. Miley, Jim, ed. 2013. The Gathering Ireland 2013: Final Report. [Dublin]: The Gathering Project, December.Google Scholar
  27. Pettitt, Lance. 2000. Screening Ireland: Film and Television Representation. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Walls, Marion. 2008. [Re]Creation of the Self, Text, and Audience: The Impact of Tressell’s Irish Roots on The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. In Revisiting Robert Tressell’s Mugsborough: New Perspectives on The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, ed. J. Cairnie and M. Walls, 103–127. New York: Cambria.Google Scholar
  29. Williams, Patrick. 2007. “No Struggle but the Home”: James Hanley’s The Furys. In Writing Liverpool: Essays and Interviews, ed. M. Murphy and D. Rees Jones, 43–54. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Pierse
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Arts, English and LanguagesQueen’s University BelfastBelfastUK

Personalised recommendations