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    Author seeks stories from workers in British construction

    Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

    Ean member and author Ultan Cowley has put out a call for information as he researches his new book.

    In his own words:


    In 2001 I wrote a history of the Irish in British construction, The Men who built Britain, and now I want to publish the stories of those who were there – in their own words.

    In Britain almost half a million Irishmen worked in construction. On hydro dams, power stations, oil terminals and motorways. Many lived in camps, often in remote locations, working long hours for Wimpey, Tarmac, or MacAlpine, following the Big Money and sending what they hadn’t ‘subbed’ back home to families in Ireland.

    In London, Birmingham, Manchester and elsewhere other Irishmen were working, often on ‘The Lump’, for Irish contractors renewing and expanding the utilities – telephones, water, gas and electricity.

    The pub was their labour exchange. Although working in the public eye theirs was a hidden world: of gangers, agents, publicans and landladies whose whims and vagaries set out their everyday existence. They moved between the pubs, the digs, the dancehalls, ‘caffs’ and roadside ‘Stands’ where ‘Skins‘ were hired each day by gangermen who judged them by their boots.

    Those who were there remember ‘Tunnel Tigers’, ‘Heavy Diggers’, and ‘McAlpine’s Fusiliers’; ‘Hen Houses’, ‘Cock Lodgers’, and ‘Landladies’ Breakfasts’; ‘Pincher Kiddies’, ‘Long Distance Men’, and ‘Shackling Up’; ‘Dead Men’, ‘Walking Pelters’, and ‘Murphy’s Volunteers’; ‘The Shamrock’, ‘The Galtymore’, ‘The Buffalo’ and ‘The Crown’; exile and isolation and loneliness and despair…

    If you were there, and have a tale to tell, please contact Ultan Cowley at

    The Potter’s Yard



    Co. Wexford


    Bishop calls for action on overseas prisoners

    Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

    Bishop Seamus Hegarty has called for the Government to implement the recommendations contained in the Report on Irish Prisoners Abroad, which was launched in August 2007.  The request was contained in the bishop’s St Patrick’s Day message; Bishop Hegarty is Bishop of Derry and Chair of the Bishops’ Council for Emigrants.

    He says the publication of the Report on Irish Prisoners Abroad had been welcomed by the Commission for Emigrants. He adds:

    This Report, the first of its kind commissioned by the Government and prepared by Chris Flood, is a timely reminder of the problems faced by Irish prisoners abroad and their families. The Report, as well as containing important statistical information, provides a disturbing snapshot of the conditions, problems and issues faced by prisoners and their families. It also contains a number of practical recommendations which, if implemented, would go a long way towards addressing these concerns.

    The Bishops’ Council for Emigrants now calls on the Government to renew its commitment to prisoners abroad and their families by implementing, in full, these recommendations and doing all it can to alleviate the anxiety and hardship experienced by this most vulnerable group of emigrants and their families. This work was undertaken as a result of a promise in the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness to undertake research to identify the number of Irish prisoners abroad and their needs for services in prison (Ireland, 2000).

    Bishop Hegarty also says that Ireland should serve as an international model on migration issues:

    As more and more people migrate, the work of organizations – such as the Bishops’ Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas – will serve as a template to nations as they face the multi-faceted challenges posed by migration. It is only right that Ireland establishes itself as an international leader with regard to services and supports for citizens abroad.

    Read the full statement on the Catholic Communications website.

    See the Report on Irish Prisoners Overseas.

    Website collects Irish-American stories

    Thursday, March 6th, 2008

    The stories of Irish-Americans are being collected online in an innovative project set up by a Dublin man who formerly lived in New York.

    Brian Reynolds says he set up to preserve the experiences of the last 150 years of Irish emigration to America.  He told the Irish Voice that it was when he was living in New York that he first began to appreciate the power of stories among the Irish-Americans there.

    He is welcoming stories about any aspect of the Irish-American experience – and will accept stories by post, so the project is not confined to those who can use the Internet.

    Visit the website at

     See the story in the Irish Voice.

    Latest Ean newsletter published

    Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

    The latest edition of the Ean newsletter was published last week. In this issue, we look at RTE’s imminent medium wave shutdown, issues facing adoptive parents who are resident abroad, emigrant political participation, plus the usual roundup of events and news.

    Read the newsletter.

    See the archive in our publications section.

    “World wide webs” diaspora book published by Australian think tank

    Monday, February 18th, 2008

    “World wide webs: diasporas and the international system” has been published today by the Lowy Institute for International Policy, an independent think tank based in Sydney, Australia. The paper by Michael Fullilove looks like a significant contribution to the field of Diaspora Studies.

    From the website:

    In this paper, Michael argues that diasporas (communities which live outside, but retain their connections with, their homelands) are getting larger, thicker and stronger – with important implications for global economics, identity, politics and security. Michael compares diasporas to ‘world wide webs’ emanating from states, with dense, interlocking, often electronic strands spanning the globe and binding different individuals, institutions and countries together. World wide webs offers a fresh take on globalisation which raises difficult questions for national governments, including the Australian government.

    Download “World wide webs” from the Lowy Institute website.

    Aberdeen: Irish and Scottish Migration. Feb-June 2008

    Monday, January 28th, 2008

    The University of Aberdeen is hosting a series of three one-day conferences called “Irish and Scottish Migration and Settlement: Intellectual, Political and Environmental Frontiers”. The conferences will be held in the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies.

    Organisers say:

    Overseas migration has conventionally been understood as a process that leads migrants to cross a variety of literal and metaphorical “frontiers? in order to settle into new societies. This series of three one-day conferences invites participants to reconsider this issue, looking instead at the varied ways in which the exploration of intellectual, political and environmental “frontiers? by Irish and Scottish migrants and their descendants generated new ideas, discourses and modes of life. Participants are also invited to consider the significance of this dynamic process for overseas Scottish and Irish communities, for the broader societies within which they lived, as well as for the Irish and Scottish homelands.

    The conferences are scheduled as follows:

    • Intellectual Frontiers – 23 Feb
    • Political Frontiers – 3 May
    • Environmental Frontiers – 21 June

    See the programme for “Intellectual Frontiers”.

    The Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen is an interdisciplinary centre offering taught master and doctoral programmes in the history, literature and culture of Ireland and Scotland, and carries out research across these disciplines. It is host to the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies, funded by the Art and Humanities Research Council.

    See the website for the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies.

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