| Page 2>
Let me explain the word ‘expat’ which comes with loaded meaning. It is an abbreviation for ‘expatriate’ which is formed from two Latin words – ‘ex’ = from and ‘patria’ = country. Expatriates are people who have lived abroad, usually for a variety of reasons including a lack of jobs in their own countries, danger or choice for a different life. Irish expats are found in the four corners of the world, and follow a long-established tradition of leaving the motherland in search of work and, in times past, peace. This page intends to pay tribute and respect to the enormous contribution they have made to their adopted and native countries.
It is hard to believe that over 150 years ago, Ireland (as an island) had a population almost twice it current 4 million. The potato famine resulted in widespread destitution, poverty, evictions and relocation, resulting in a huge displacement of the population through emigration. Many found their way to our ports and boarded ‘famine ships’ for a better life in the USA. Or so they thought. Assuming they survived the horrendous journey, they endured the slums of New York and various east coast cities, racism, more poverty and disease, and suspicion. Having survived all of the above, many Irish families established themselves in the USA and spread westwards, as well as establishing various dynasties on the east coast. Arguably, the Kennedy family of assassinated president John F. is the best known.
The other significant receiver of Irish expats is the UK, our closest trading partners and old-time adversary. The Irish made their presence felt in Victorian Britain, working on major infrastructural projects such as the railways and, in more recent times, motorways and the channel tunnel. It is with great pleasure and gratitude that I launch this section with one of these, my good friend Tony Ward from Dublin and now living in Sussex. Not only did Irish expats have to endure similar hardships to their US relations – the activities of Irish republicans in England made Irish expats a target for prejudice, bias and suspicions. This they have endured with fortitude and belief and thankfully, the present ceasefire in Northern Ireland has resulted in a better life for Irish expats in the UK. To read Tony's blog go to page 3.
One way to communicate with Irish people is by forums/bulletin boards such as this one.