Irish migration to Great Britain

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Irish migration to Great Britain
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Total population
  • 6,000,000 with at least 25% Irish ancestry[7]
    (10% of the British population)
  • 14,000,000 with less than 25% Irish ancestry[1]
    (25% of the British population)
Regions with significant populations
Throughout Great Britain, especially Glasgow, London, Liverpool, Warrington, Swansea, Leeds, Luton, Coventry, Preston, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Manchester, Edinburgh, Dundee and Birmingham
English · Irish · Shelta · Scots
(Roman Catholic, Anglican)
and Irreligion
Related ethnic groups
Irish people · Overseas Irish

Irish migration to Great Britain has occurred from the earliest recorded history to the present. There has been a continuous movement of people between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain due to their proximity. The Irish diaspora are those who reside in Great Britain, the largest island and principal territory of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

This tide has ebbed and flowed in response to politics, economics and social conditions of both places. Ireland was a feudal Lordship of the Kings of England between 1171 and 1541; a Kingdom in personal union with the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Great Britain between 1542 and 1801; and politically united with Great Britain as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland between 1801 and 1922. Today, Ireland is divided between the independent Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland which is part of the UK.

Today, millions of residents of Great Britain are either from Ireland or have Irish ancestry. It is estimated that as many as six million people living in the UK have at least one Irish grandparent (around 10% of the UK population).[2]

Medieval era[edit]

During the Dark Ages, significant Irish settlement of western Britain took place. The 'traditional' view is that Gaelic language and culture was brought to Scotland, probably in the 4th century, by settlers from Ireland, who founded the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata on Scotland's west coast.[3][4] This is based mostly on medieval writings from the 9th and 10th centuries. However, recently some archeologists have argued against this view, saying that there is no archeological or placename evidence for a migration or a takeover by a small group of elites.[5] Due to the growth of Dál Riata, in both size and influence, Scotland became almost wholly Gaelic-speaking until Northumbrian English began to replace Gaelic in the Lowlands. Gaelic remained the dominant languages of the Highlands into the 19th century, but has since declined.

Before and during the Gregorian mission of 596 AD, Irish Christians such as Columba (521-97), Buriana, Diuma, Ceollach, Saint Machar, Saint Cathan, Saint Blane, Jaruman, Wyllow, Kessog, St Govan, Donnán of Eigg, Foillan and Saint Fursey began the conversion of the British, Picts and early English peoples. Modwenna and others were significant in the following century.

Some English monarchs, such as Oswiu of Northumbria (c. 612 – 15 February 670), Aldfrith (died 704 or 705) and Harold Godwinson (died 1066) were either raised in or sought refuge in Ireland, as did Welsh rulers such as Gruffudd ap Cynan. Alfred the Great may have spent some of his childhood in Ireland.

In the year 902 Vikings who had been forced out of Ireland were given permission by the English to settle in Wirral, in the north west of England. An Irish historical record known as "The Three Fragments" refers to a distinct group of settlers living among these Vikings as "Irishmen". Further evidence of this Irish migration to Wirral comes from the name of the village of Irby in Wirral, which means "settlement of the Irish", and St Bridget's church, which is known to have been founded by "Vikings from Ireland".[6]

Irish people who made Britain their home in the later medieval era included Aoife MacMurrough, Princess of Leinster (1145–88), the poet Muireadhach Albanach (fl. 1213), the lawyer William of Drogheada (died 1245), Máel Muire Ó Lachtáin (died 1249), Malachias Hibernicus (fl. 1279–1300), Gilbert Ó Tigernaig (died 1323), Diarmait MacCairbre (executed 1490) and Germyn Lynch (fl. 1441–1483), all of whom made successful lives in Britain.

Early modern times[edit]

From the early 17th century onwards, the Irish have been a large part of the population in London. The first migration waves were due to harvest jobs, and other occupations for the Irish would be quasi-beggarly. However, the more they integrated the more the job offer would widen to include better positions, such as street sellers, building labourers and owners of alehouses. Furthermore, London and Dublin were in a close relation through the trade of silk and linen.

The first and largest Irish community, known as 'little Dublin', was settled in the areas of St Giles in the Fields and Seven Dials, and by the 19th century, Irish communities could be found anywhere in the capitol with the exception of the City. Areas typically associated with the presence of the Irish are Whitechapel, Saffron Hill, Poplar, Southwark and Marylebone.

Despite their integration, however, Irish communities were victims of prejudices and discriminations.

The conflict between Protestants and Catholics

The religious conflict of the 17th century arose from the establishment of a policy of religious tolerance on the part of King James II, who took the throne in 1685. In fact, during the time he spent exiled in France to seek refuge from the English Civil War, he approached the local culture, until he finally converted to Roman Catholicism around 1688. Since about 75% of the Irish population were Catholic,[7] James found a great support in them.

The leading political circles were suspicious of the king’s faith and religious openness, as well as of his relations with France, and the tension intensified even more when James Francis Edward Stuart, King James’s son, was born, because this changed the line of succession. In fact, Mary, The king’s daughter, who was a Protestant and the wife of William of Orange, was displaced in favour of her brother. To avoid a Roman Catholin dynasty, the most powerful members of the Tories and of the Whigs turned to William of Orange, who accepted to intervene for fear of an Anglo-French alliance, but in return for military intervention, he demanded the title of king. In November 1688, in what is called the Glorious Revolution, William overthrew James II, establishing the supremacy of the Protestants.

However, the Irish Parliament still recognised James as the king, and an Act for Liberty of Conscience was passed to grant religious freedom for both Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. With the support of the Irish and the help of the French army, James tried to win the throne back, but William of Orange in the Battle of the Boyne defeated him once again in July 1690.

When James introduced his policy of religious tolerance, Catholics were allowed to hold official positions in the majority of Irish counties under the influence of Richard Talbot, First Earl of Tyrconnell, who was given command of the Irish army and made Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1687.[8] Soon, Talbot filled the army with Catholic officers and recruits, a fact that gave the Irish Catholics a hope for the reclamation of their lands and political power, which the Protestants feared. Thomas Wharton’s response was the satirical ballad known as Lillibullero, which had the aim to mock not only Talbot, but also Roman Catholics in general. In the ballad, we read about an Irish soldier's hope to see all of Ireland become Catholic, and possibly about an Irish independence movement:

Now the heretics all go down

Lillibullero bullen a la

By Christ and St Patrick's the nation's our own

Lillibullero bullen a la
— Thomas Wharton, "Lillibullero"

Although there are many theories that attempt to unfold the mistery around the name of this ballad, a possible explanation could be found in the Gaelic language. Brendan Behanproposed that the term Lillibullero might come from a corruption of the Gaelic "An Lile ba léir é ba linn an lá", which translates to "The lily won the day for us". In Breandán Ó Buachalla's opinion, it should be read as "Lillí bu léir ó, bu linn an lá", which means "Lilly will be manifest, the day will be ours". According to these theories, Wharton had created a sort of Irish gibberish. However, Jonathan Swift, who knew what Irish sounded like, claimed that these are "not Irish words".[8][9]

The Irish and the law

The legal context provides clear instances of the ways the Irish were dealt with, starting from the fact that they were denied access to the Poor Law, a system of assistance for the less wealthy.

The early Old Bailey Proceedings show that the attitude of Londoners toward the Irish was represented on the pages of trials through reproductions of their accent intended to humiliate and ridicule them. For instance, in February 1725, James Fitzgerald testified against a prostitute who, he said, had stolen his watch:

On the 25th of February last, about 11 at Night, O' my Shoul, I wash got pretty drunk, and wash going very shoberly along the Old-Baily, and there I met the Preeshoner upon the Bar, as she wash going before me.

The purpose of reptresenting Fitzgerald's accent was not only to perpetrate prejudices, but also to provide entertainment to those who were going to read the report. His ‘s’s were transcribed as ‘sh’s, which, according to Hitchcock and Shoemaker, made him look like he was drunk. A few months later, the Court of Aldermen censored the transcription of this trial. Not only did the publisher and the person who had done the transcription have to apologise for their offence, but they also had to promise not to cause other offences in future publications.[10][11] When the accused were found guilty, they were sentenced to death, but as the tolerance for violence decreased, the majority of them were pardoned and given less harsh punishments, such as branding and transportation. When executions did take place, they were often characterised by conflicts that arose from the battle between surgeons and anatomists on one side and the family and friends of the condemned on the other side over the possession of the corpse. Most people believed that the soul had a physical existence, and they feared that dissecting the body would threaten its passage into the afterlife. It was also important that the body should be whole and consecrated in order for resurrection to take place.

Alexander Byrne and Terence McCane were two 23-year-old Irishmen from Dublin who had come to London in their teenage years and ended up being found guilty of highway robbery. Four of the accused who were to be hanged on Monday 11 November 1751 were pardoned, but for these two young men there was no way out. The only thing their friends could do was to save their corpses from the surgeons.[10]

On the day of the execution, Michael MacGennis and Christopher Williams led a crowd, made up mainly of Irishmen who knew the condemned, to rescue the bodies. In order to transport them, they took the two horses and cart of a certain Richard Shears, who had positioned near the gallows to allow people to get on the cart and see the execution in exchange for a few pence. Testimonies about what happened between the two parts are inconsistent. One witness referred that Shears had told the crowd 'gentlemen I hope you will be so good, as not to throw these dead bodies up into my cart; for I am obliged to go home about some business'. According to another witness, Shears was not so polite: 'there was a sort of a skirmish, and the deceased was striving to get his horses and cart from the prisoner, and two or three more, who had got them from him: the prisoner would not let him have them, and the man that drove the horses threatened to knock his brains out, if he did not go about his business'.[12]

The crowd had been drinking since the morning, and after the rescue they drove to Bayswater, where they drank some more. When MacGennis and Williams headed home, they encountered Shears, who tried to take his properties back. MacGennis took a knife from under his coat and hit Shears, fracturing his skull. Hannah, Shear's wife, found him covered in blood in Hyde Park Infirmary, where he died, not before telling her who his murderer was: 'it was a short thick Irish Milkman, that gave him his death wound, that he was wilfully murdered, and that they ran away with his cart and horses, and that murder will never be hid'.[13]

At his own trial for murder, MacGennis proclaimed his innocence and called a great number of character witnesses in his defence. Nevertheless, he was found guilty and sentenced to hang. On the same occasion, Williams, who didn't stand his own trial, declared himself innocent, claiming that he had even sought help for Shears: 'I saw the man all bloody; I said go and get your head dressed, I'll drive your horses as well as I can'.[14]

On 23 March 1752, MacGennis was executed and his body was then delivered to his friends. The Ordinary's account describes him as a hardworking husband and father, 'esteemed a quiet, harmless Youth by those who knew him in his early Days'.[15] Like many of MacGennis's friends, the Ordinary was doubtful about the conclusion of the case. About the convict's claim that he did not kill Shears, the Ordinary commented: 'Who did it we have no Authority yet to say, unless that of the Court and Jury, who convicted Mac Gennis, upon full Evidence, unimpeached; and as the Scheme set up to prove the contrary did not succeed, we can scarce believe, but that he was justly convicted, and suffered accordingly'.[15]

Anti-Irish riots

In 1736, William Goswell, in charge of the rebuilding of St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch, decided to dismiss his English workers, who were demanding higher wages, and to employ cheaper Irish labour. In addition, Irish people were also being employed in both Shoreditch and Spitalfields in the weaver industry.[16] In response to this, the English, who were now unemployed, started an anti-Irish outbreak that began on Monday 26 July, when hundreds of people gathered in Shoreditch, shouting ‘Down with the Irish’. By the following evening, the crowd, which had grown to thousands people, attacked a pub frequented by Irish people. However, it was on Friday 30 that the riot reached its peak. Two houses in particular, the Rose and Crown and the Bull and the Butcher, were object of the violence of the English, who broke windows, doors and stole or broke goods.[17][18] For example, in Robert Mickey and Joshua Hall's trial we read:[19]

John Waldon. I keep the Bull and Butcher in Cable Street [...] The 30th of July, every one in the House was gone to bed but my self, and I was stripped all but my Stockings and Breeches; but hearing the Mob come down, and crying, down with the Irish, and seeing all the Houses illuminated, I bid all my Lodgers get up and shift for their Lives: I got over a Wall 8 Feet high, and some of the Neighbours helped the Lodgers off. I left the House to their Mercy, (for my Wife was out at a Woman's Labour) and they stole and broke every Thing I had. I staid in the House, 'till the Shutters and Glass all flew in together. They did not enter the House, but they reached in with their Arms, and took Meat out of the Windows. Six of my Shutters were broke, and 70 odd Panes of Glass, which Damage cost me 3 l. 13 s. to repair. I can't say I saw any of them.

The effects of discriminations

Gin Lane, from Beer Street and Gin Lane (1751) by William Hogarth.

All the discriminations left the Irish in a general condition of poverty and social exclusion that concerned not only newest generations of immigrants but also the most settled ones. The conditions in which Irish communities lived were inhumane: since families could not afford the cost of living, they were forced to share rooms. In 1849, Thomas Beames found that eighty-eight men, women and children lived in a single house in Saffron Hill:[20]

The house we select contained five rooms, one of which was inhabited only by a man and his wife; whether the landlord was the occupant here, we know not, but in the four remaining rooms, 86 human beings were massed together. [...] No. 3 was the front attic at the top of the house, it was a low square room, [-61-] inhabited chiefly by Irish.

In 1849, The Times published a letter written by fifty-four people who lived in such places and who denounced their conditions:[21]

We are Sur, as it may be, livin in a Wilderniss, so far as the rest of London knows anything of us, or as the rich and great people care about. We live in muck and filth. We aint got no priviz, no dust bins, no drains, no water-splies, and no drain or suer in the hole place.

St Giles in the Fields, an area where the Irish were settled, was one of the many rookeries of London. A depiction of living conditions in this area can be observed in William Hogarth's print from 1751, Gin Lane.

Living in such situations, with extremely poor sanitary conditions, led to an increase of the mortality rate, and the problem was aggravated in the early and mid-nineteenth century, when old groups of Irish people came into conflicts with new groups that moved to England either to escape the Great Famine or to work in the Industrial Revolution.

Some notable people born in Ireland who settled in Great Britain between the 16th and 19th centuries:

19th century onwards[edit]

The most significant exodus followed the worst of a series of potato crop failures in the 1840s - the Great Famine. It is estimated that more than one million people died, and almost the same again emigrated. A further wave of emigration to England also took place between the 1930s and 1960s by Irish escaping poor economic conditions following the establishment of the Irish Free State. This was furthered by the severe labour shortage in Britain during the mid-20th century, which depended largely on Irish immigrants to work in the areas of construction and domestic labour. The extent of the Irish contribution to Britain's construction industry in the 20th century may be gauged from Sir William MacAlpine's 1998 assertion that the contribution of the Irish to the success of his industry had been 'immeasurable'.

Ireland's population fell from more than 8 million to just 6.5 million between 1841 and 1851. A century later it had dropped to 4.3 million. By the late 19th century, emigration was heaviest from Ireland's most rural southern and western counties. Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Tipperary and Limerick alone provided nearly half of Ireland's emigrants. Some of this movement was temporary, made up of seasonal harvest labourers working in Britain and returning home for winter and spring. By the mid-1930s, Great Britain was the choice of many who had to leave Ireland. Britain's wartime economy (1939–45) and post-war boom attracted many Irish people to expanding cities and towns such as London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Luton. Prior to the 2000s financial crisis, ongoing sectarian violence and its economic aftermath was another major factor for immigration.

According to the UK 2001 Census, white Irish-born residents make up 1.2% of those living in England and Wales.[22] In 1997, the Irish Government in its White Paper on Foreign Policy claimed that there were around two million Irish citizens living in Britain, the majority of them British-born.[citation needed] The 2001 Census also showed that Irish people are more likely to be employed in managerial or professional occupations than those classed as "White British".[23]

As a result of the Irish financial crisis, emigration from Ireland has risen significantly.[24] Data published in June 2011 showed that Irish emigration to Britain had risen by 25 per cent to 13,920 in 2010.[25]


The term 'London Irish' relates to people born in London of Irish descent. London has Great Britain's biggest Irish population and the Irish community in London has been traditionally based in the (affectionately known) 'County Kilburn' area of northwest London. With urban gentrification and higher housing costs, the vast majority of London's working-class Irish-Catholic community have moved further out from Kilburn to Cricklewood. The Camden Town area of London, as well as Shepherds Bush, were also known for their large Irish communities.

Irish in Britain[edit]

Irish in England[edit]

In 2001, there were 674,786 people in England (1.4 per cent of the population) who had been born in Ireland. This is the greatest concentration of Irish-born—as distinct from persons of Irish ancestry—abroad anywhere in the world and was equivalent to 12.1% of the population of the island of Ireland (5.6 million) in 2001.

Sports teams[edit]

Sports teams with links to the Irish community exist in England, although this is not as marked as in Scotland.

In football, Arsenal, Leeds United, Everton, Manchester United have a tradition of representing the Irish communities in their area although unlike many clubs in Scotland they were not formed on the basis of representing the Irish community. For example, Arsenal has featured ethnically Irish players such as Liam Brady, Terry Neill, Pat Rice, Niall Quinn, David O'Leary and Graham Barrett. Aston Villa has featured many Irish players such as Steve Staunton, Paul McGrath, Richard Dunne and former managers David O'Leary and Martin O'Neill. Aston Villa has a large Irish following in the West Midlands which has the highest proportion of Irish people in the UK. Both Everton and Liverpool have roots in a Methodist church but Everton F.C. was often described as Liverpool's Irish Catholic team, probably because Everton had a number of Eire internationals in the 1950s. Liverpool F.C. was formed by a prominent Orangeman but this fact did not deter Liverpool people from a Catholic background supporting the team. Everton has notably produced Wayne Rooney who is of Irish descent and have recently featured promising Irish international Séamus Coleman; as were prominent Liverpool players who were Everton fans in their youth such as Jamie Carragher and Steve McManaman. Recently Jonjo Shelvey has become the latest in a line of Liverpool players with Irish heritage, going back to the days of Mark Lawrenson, Ronnie Whelan and Ray Houghton. Neither Liverpool nor Everton have a sectarian affiliation and many families are split in support of the clubs. With the managership of Sir Matt Busby, Manchester United also emerged as a club with a considerable Irish following both in Great Britain and in Ireland itself as well as having notable Irish stars like George Best, Norman Whiteside, Mal Donaghy, Denis Irwin, Roy Keane, and recently John O'Shea.

In Rugby league, Dewsbury Celtic represented the large Irish community in Dewsbury, and St Helens represent communities in Merseyside. The rugby union club London Irish represents the community in London. There is also a GAA Londain (London in Irish) team representing the GAA clubs in London, that plays in the Connacht province (in Gaelic football) and Ulster (in hurling); see London GAA.


Liverpool traditionally is known as having the strongest Irish heritage of any British city, with the possible exception of Glasgow. The Irish have played a major role in Liverpool's population and social fabric for a good part of the city's eight-hundred year history. A lot of Liverpudlians have some Irish ancestry, their Irish ancestors are most likely to have come to Liverpool in the 19th century. The Irish influence is heard in the local Liverpool dialect, often called Scouse, and seen in the faces and names of the populace. At least three of Liverpool's most famous citizens, The Beatles, had some Irish ancestry. George Harrison was of maternal Irish-Catholic derivation. Bandmate Sir Paul McCartney had one Irish grandfather and an Irish great-grandfather. John Lennon's father's family were the descendents of Irish migrants who came to Liverpool in the 19th century. Liverpool's Irish heritage is further highlighted by it being the only English city to have a significant Orange Order membership. The Irish have also come to be as much of a staple of Merseyside in general, as of Liverpool itself. Many of the towns which surround the city in the county, such as Bootle, Birkenhead, Widnes and Huyton, have many people with Irish ancestry and have also inherited the Scouse accent, due to a lot of overspill originally from Liverpool moving to these places over the years.


Birmingham has a large Irish community, dating back to the Industrial Revolution, it is estimated that Birmingham has the largest Irish population per capita in the UK. Digbeth is the traditional Irish area in Birmingham. During the 1950s Sparkbrook and Sparkhill were the main Irish areas. Today many Irish people live in areas such as Hall Green and Solihull. Birmingham has the UK's largest St Patricks Day's Parade (and the world's third biggest) and Britain's only 'Irish Quarter', with many traditional Irish pubs and the Birmingham Irish centre. Irish people have always moved to Birmingham for work especially for the construction, factory and industrial work which the city had to offer. Many Irish people moved to Birmingham to build canals, roads and railways in the city's industrial past. It is estimated a significant percentage of people from Birmingham have Irish ancestry. St Chad's Cathedral is one of only two of the minor Basilicas in the UK. It is very important as the first Catholic church built in Britain after the English Reformation, and was designed by the architect Augustus Pugin.


A large number settled here in the 1950s as work was scarce at home, especially in the South. Many found work in the mills and factories and encouraged other family members to come over as there were jobs waiting for them.


Manchester has strong and long established Irish connections. It has been estimated that around 35% of Manchester's population has some Irish ancestry. As in Liverpool, city residents of Irish heritage have been influential in the music industry. All four members of the Smiths had Irish roots, as do the Gallagher brothers of the band Oasis. Gary Mounfield (Mani), bass player of the Stone Roses had an Irish mother.[26] Manchester holds an annual Irish Festival each March, including one of the UK's largest St Patrick's Day parades.


Middlesbrough during the latter half of the 19th century had the second highest percentage of Irish born migrants in England after Liverpool.[27][28] In terms of the overall population, 9.2% of Middlesbrough's inhabitants were Irish born in the 1871 census.[29][30] During the late 19th century, Middlesbrough became a world leader in the Steel and Iron industry and with the rapid growth of the town, the expanse of newly opened blast furnaces attracted many workers and their families to the Middlesbrough area. Unlike many other British towns at the time, Middlesbrough showed no signs of sectarianism or segregation within the various communities that lived alongside each other, there were no "Irish quarters"[31] and the many Irish that settled in Middlesbrough integrated into their adopted home. This was most likely as a result of the town's infancy, it was essentially a migrant town. Although the number of Irish born currently residing in Middlesbrough may not be as substantial as it once was, Middlesbrough retains a strong Irish connection and heritage through the ancestry of many residents.

Irish in Scotland[edit]

There are long standing migration links between Scotland and the Province of Ulster, especially between County Donegal, County Antrim and County Down with the west coast of Scotland. Considering the Dal Riada kingdoms and the gaelicisation of Scotland in the early Middle Ages, it is difficult to determine how many Scots have genetic ancestry from Ireland historically or how many were Picts who adopted Irish lifestyles, although the general consensus is that both happened as Pictish culture vanished by the 11th century. In 2001, around 55,000 people in Scotland (1.1 per cent of the Scottish population) had been born in Ireland, while people of Irish (either Protestant or Catholic) heritage make up 20% of the Scottish population. Scotland has a greater number of persons born in Northern Ireland and County Donegal (0.66 per cent) than in the rest of the Republic of Ireland (0.43%). Despite having lower than average numbers of Irish people resident the Lanarkshire town of Coatbridge is more than 50% Catholic.[32] The town is populated by the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th generation children of Irish immigrants, especially immigrants from County Donegal. In 2006 more than 28% of adults in Coatbridge had surnames with Irish origins.[33] Coatbridge holds the largest St. Patrick's Day Festival in Scotland.

Famous Scots of Irish-Catholic ancestry include actors Sir Sean Connery, Brian Cox, Gerard Butler, James McAvoy and Robbie Coltrane; comedians Billy Connolly and Frankie Boyle; singers Susan Boyle, Fran Healy and David Byrne; historians Prof. Tom Devine and Prof. Michael Lynch; footballers like Jimmy McGrory and Ray Houghton; politicians like James Connolly (the trade unionist and Easter Rising leader), Jim Murphy (the current British Shadow Defence Secretary), and socialist political figure Tommy Sheridan; television presenter Lorraine Kelly; businessmen like Sir Thomas Lipton; and writers Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dr. A. J. Cronin, John Byrne and Andrew O'Hagan.

Support for particular football teams often reflects Catholic or Protestant heritage. Celtic F.C. are overwhelmingly supported by people from a Catholic background though not exclusively. Hibernian F.C. and Dundee United F.C. were formed as clubs representing Irish Catholics, however there is little vestige of these founding values today. Teams such as Dundee F.C. (though founded before Dundee United on entirely secular grounds), Heart of Midlothian F.C. and Lanarkshire teams such as Motherwell FC and Airdrie United are contentiously perceived by some as Protestant clubs with Rangers F.C being the overwhelmingly Protestant-supported club in Scotland and the only to retain an overt Protestant identity today despite signing a number of high-profile Catholic players since the 1980s.

Today a very small minority of the Irish Catholic community in Scotland take part in Irish republican marches (mainly in Strathclyde) though these marches do not have exclusively Catholics in attendance with many Protestants and others of various faiths or none involved,[citation needed] and the Orange Order has a large membership in Scotland, predominantly in Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire. As well as Scotland's own parades, many Scottish bands parade in Northern Ireland on or around 12 July.

Irish in Wales[edit]

Starting in the 4th century AD, Irish raiders settled Wales extensively, their impact being so great that many Gaelic words were introduced into the Welsh language.[34] Many Irish emigrants came to Wales as a result of the famine of 1845–52. They were often very poor, and seen as carrying "famine fever" (typhus), but over time they acquired a notable presence—in the thousands, particularly in the Welsh coal mining towns in and around Swansea and Newport. In 2001 there were 20,569 people in Wales (0.7% of the population) who had been born in Ireland[citation needed].

Probably one of the most famous Welsh nationals of Irish-Catholic ancestry is screen actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.

2001 Census[edit]

The 2001 UK census was the first which allowed British citizens to express an Irish ethnicity. In all previous British censuses, figures for the Irish community were based on Irish birthplace. The percentage claiming White Irish ethnicity in England and Wales was 1.2 per cent, with the highest concentration found in the London Borough of Brent, where they made up 6.9 per cent of the population,[35] while the figure for Scotland was 0.98 per cent.[36] The Irish have been the largest source of immigrants to Britain for over 200 years and as many as six million people in the UK are estimated to have at least one Irish grandparent.[2]

Places with significant Irish population[edit]

There are many people in Great Britain with Irish ancestry and they are found mainly in the following towns and cities:

Additionally, the 2011 census listed the following towns and cities as having the largest Irish populations (note that this list does not contain towns and cities with a population of less than 15, 000):[37][38]

Culture and influence[edit]

Saint Patrick's Day is widely celebrated throughout Great Britain, owing to many British people's ancestral links with Ireland as well as the general popularity of the event. Birmingham and Manchester have particularly large parades.

Britons of Irish ancestry[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The article "More Britons applying for Irish passports" states that 6 million Britons have either an Irish grandfather or grandmother and are thus able to apply for Irish citizenship. [8].


  1. ^ One in four Britons claim Irish roots
  2. ^ a b Six million Britons are entitled to Irish citizenship
  3. ^ Jones, Charles (1997). The Edinburgh history of the Scots language. Edinburgh University Press. p. 551. ISBN 978-0-7486-0754-9. 
  4. ^ Nora Kershaw Chadwick, Myles Dyllon (1972). The Celtic Realms. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-7607-4284-6. 
  5. ^ Campbell, Ewan. "Were the Scots Irish?" in Antiquity #75 (2001).
  6. ^ Irish Migration to Merseyside
  7. ^ "Jacobitism". 
  8. ^ a b Cooper, David (2009). The Musical Traditions of Northern Ireland and Its Diaspora: Community and Conflict. Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate Publishing. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-7546-6230-3. 
  9. ^ Ellis, Frank H. (2005). The ABC of Lit Crit. Bethesda: Academica Press, LLC. p. 209. ISBN 1-930901-79-8. 
  10. ^ a b Hitchcock Tim, Shoemaker Robert (2006). Tales from the Hanging Court. London: Hodder Education. pp. 204–209. ISBN 978-0-340-91374-1. 
  11. ^ Old Bailey Proceedings, February 1725, Susan Grimes (t17250407-66)
  12. ^ Old Bailey Proceedings, January 1752, Michael MacGennis (t17520116-28)
  13. ^ Old Bailey Proceedings, January 1752, Michael MacGennis (t17520116-28)
  14. ^ Old Bailey Proceedings, January 1752, Michael MacGennis (t17520116-28)
  15. ^ a b Old Bailey ProceedingsOrdinary of Newgate's Account, 23 March 1752 (OA17520323).
  16. ^ Rudé, George (2005). The Crowd In History: A Study Of Popular Disturbances In France And England, 1730-1848. London: Serif. p. 53. ISBN 9781897959473. 
  17. ^ Hitchcock Tim, Shoemaker Robert (2006). Tales from the Hanging Court. London: Hodder Education. pp. 65, 66, 69. ISBN 978-0-340-91374-1. 
  18. ^ Old Bailey Proceedings, October 1736, Robert Page , William Orman Rod and Thomas Putrode (t17361013-5)
  19. ^ Old Bailey Proceedings, October 1736, Robert Mickey, Joshua Hall (t17361013-6)
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ UK Census 2001
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  26. ^ "Essential Travel - Travel Insurance, Airport Parking and Airport Hotels". 2013-10-28. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
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  40. ^ Kesh, County Fermanagh
  41. ^ John Lennon's family tree
  42. ^ Paul McCartney's family tree


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External links[edit]