Leaving the North is the first book that provides a comprehensive survey of Northern Ireland migration since 1921. Based largely on the personal memories of emigrants who left Northern Ireland from the 1920s to the 2000s, approximately half of whom eventually returned, the book traces their multigenerational experiences of leaving Northern Ireland and adapting to life abroad, with some later returning to a society still mired in conflict. Contextualised by a review of the statistical and policy record, the emigrants’ stories reveal that contrary to its well-worn image as an inward-looking place – 'such narrow ground' – Northern Ireland has a rather dynamic migration history, demonstrating that its people have long been looking outward as well as inward, well connected with the wider world. But how many departed and where did they go? And what of the Northern Ireland Diaspora? How has the view of the ‘troubled’ homeland from abroad, especially among expatriates, contributed to progress along the road to peace? In addressing these questions, the book treats the relationship between migration, sectarianism and conflict, immigration and racism, repatriation and the Peace Process, with particular attention to the experience of Northern Ireland migrants in the two principal receiving societies – Britain and Canada. With the emigration of young people once again on the increase due to the economic downturn, it is perhaps timely to learn from the experiences of the people who have been ‘leaving the North’ over many decades; not only to acknowledge their departure but in the hope that we might better understand the challenges and opportunities that migration and Diaspora can present.
Johanne Devlin Trew’s recent book on migration from Northern Ireland is that increasingly rare thing in Irish diaspora studies: research that addresses a genuinely glaring gap in the literature. Leaving the North could hardly be more timely. While it is quickly attaining the status of a core text in Irish migration studies, it is to be hoped that it reaches the wider audience it deserves.
Marc Scully, Irish Studies Review
Irish Studies Review
This book by Johanne Devlin Trew is an important contribution to our knowledge and understanding of this particular aspect of migration from the island of Ireland...This relatively untold aspect of the story of movement from Ireland to Britain reveals the complex spatial and temporal dynamics of identifications.
Louise Ryan, Oral History
In her engrossing account of Northern Irish emigration since 1921, Leaving the North: Migration and Memory, Northern Ireland 1921–2011, Professor Johanne Devlin Trew combines a mastery of the quantitative and the qualitative approaches to her subject as she endeavors to put "migration back into history". Trew addresses a gap in the Irish migration historiography that has allowed the specific experience of Northern Irish migrants within the overall Irish migration story to fall between the cracks. ... One of the unique features of this book is that the emigrant interviews are conducted both in Northern Ireland and abroad, showing a more complete picture of the subject. ... this book is a worthy read, filling in a historiographical gap for experts while offering some thoughtful insights into the psyche of emigrants for the broader public.Peter Moloney, Journal of World History