Compelling Reasons Why The Irish Emigrated

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Ireland Genealogy Gotoarrow.png Ireland Emigration and Immigration Gotoarrow.png Reasons Why the Irish Emigrated

Dunseverick Harbour - geograph.org.uk - 24159.jpg



Why The Irish Left Their Homeland[edit | edit source]

You see Dunseverick Harbour in the image above. Many local people began their long emigration trail during the 1800s, being rowed out to catch a passing schooner bound for Glasgow or Londonderry where they would embark on one of the many emigrant ships to Australia, New Zealand or the Americas.

If the 17th and 18th century Penal laws of the Royal Crown leveled at mostly Catholic society could be summed up in one word, the word "brutalisation" just might be the more accurate one to employ for those times. From at least as early as the year 1603, laws then enacted, seemed to focus on their society perhaps as much as any non-parochial one in the whole realm. For example, imagine a family homestead which prior to this time was once held by the family for several centuries, but was suddenly ripped from beneath their feet and which forced many onto the 'street' in abject poverty practically overnight.

These and other intolerable conditions in Ireland forced Irish (especially Catholic) emigrants to leave the country.

Here is a view of four core reasons that motivated or forced our Irish ancestry to turn their backs on their homeland, in order to thrive in a new existence abroad:

Political Culture of Persecution[edit | edit source]

  • Austere taxation and tithes policies
  • Continual doctrine of ‘Conquer and divide’ policies enacted over centuries seized and evicted lands from native Irish Catholics
  • Cruel landlords (not all)
  • Sponsorship of land price increases ('rent-racking')--allowed to unbearable rate levels--tossed hordes of already poor families, ‘out onto the street’

Economic[edit | edit source]

  • British government backed England’s grain exportation—but not Ireland’s; some farmers emigrated
  • New farming techniques increased output, decreasing the need for agricultural laborers
  • Manufacturing industries sprang up, causing less emphasis in farming
  • Irish poor-law provided means by which vast numbers were granted mostly free passage to countries abroad

Social and Religious[edit | edit source]

Ireland Church Tower.jpg

A culture of social and religious persecution by the local Protestant-led and British Crown government was manifest in—

  • total distrust of Catholics’ loyalty to the Crown
  • The Crown looked on Ireland as the security weak-link in the whole realm; sought stability via infusing numerous Protestant landowners
  • Harsh Penal laws enacted by the Crown government from 1695, stripped many Nonconformists and all Catholics of their rights to—
    1. vote
    2. practice law
    3. enter a profession
    4. hold public office
    5. receive an education
    6. practice their own religion outside of the Protestant faith
    7. serve as officers in British armed forces
    8. teach in, or enroll in colleges
    9. defend themselves with weapons
    10. be employed or an employer in a trade or in commerce
    11. build a church or live within 5 miles of the civil parish church
    12. own a horse of greater value than five pounds
    13. purchase nor lease land
    14. hold a life annuity
    15. buy or receive a gift of land from a Protestant
    16. inherit land or moveables from a Protestant
    17. rent any land that was worth more than thirty shillings a year
    18. reap from his land any profit exceeding a third of the rent
    19. be a guardian to a child
    20. leave infant children under Catholic guardianship
    21. accept a mortgage on land in security for a loan
    22. attend Catholic worship
    23. choose between attendance in a Catholic, or a Protestant place of worship
    24. educate his child
    25. be instructed by a local Catholic teacher nor be educated abroad

Crop Failures[edit | edit source]

  • Devastating crop failures—especially from 1846 to 1851 decimated or starved to death, nearly a million people
  • British government’s lack of food aid to Ireland during The Great Famine forced nearly half the surviving population to leave Ireland
  • Famine brought abject poverty, severe malnutrition inducing poor health, and affected (to some--even death) 3-4 million Irish
  • During the Great Famine years: Grains out of Ireland, were exported to England, while Irish were dying from the famine

Further Reading[edit | edit source]

O hEithir, Breandan, A Pocket History of Ireland, The O'Brien Press, Dublin, Ireland, 1989

MacManus, Seamus, The Story of the Irish Race, The New York Irish Publishing Co., 1921