Irish, Catholic and Scouse

BookIrish, Catholic and Scouse

Irish, Catholic and Scouse

The History of the Liverpool-Irish, 1800-1940


September 1st, 2007



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Irish, Catholic and Scouse highlights the complex interplay of cultural and structural factors experienced by the most significant ethnic group in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century pre-multicultural Britain: the Irish in Liverpool. Drawing upon new approaches to our understanding of diasporas, this study emphasises the role of ethnic agency as Catholic migrants and their descendants made Irishness their own. Belchem looks in detail at those who remained in Liverpool, the hub of the Irish diaspora, and contrasts them with their compatriots who continued on their trans-national travels. This path-breaking study will be required reading for those who wish to understand the Irish diaspora and the cultural melting pot of nineteenth-century Liverpool.

No one has mastered the sources the way Belchem has…this is a mature scholar doing his style of history about as well as it can be done.

Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario

The book is a coherent new analysis that introduces some new areas of discussion into the way we understand the Irish in Liverpool. It is an important contribution to Irish migration studies and is a valuable case-study in British social, economic and political history of the period. It includes some evocative photographs that, in themselves, illustrate the multi-faced nature of Liverpool Irish history.

Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire Volume 157

Belchem's deeply documented study will appeal beyond Hibernophiles to students of modern cities containing very large and often unruly minorities in their midst. Belchem is well versed in current theories of globalization and ethnicity; he concentrate on the "essential" Irish identity and its preservation

American Historical Review

There can be no doubt that here we have the definitive work, packed with detailed and carefully researched material. ...thorough research, a very high standard of writing, a subject of major local and regional importance, and a readable and fluent quality which eschews jargon and tells a gripping story firmly based on the reality of history.

Northern History, XLVI

Building on his previous work, Belchem has written a thorough, evidence-based study that makes use of extensive archival sources and little-ready newspapers (such as the Liverpool Catholic Herald) to fulfil the vital need for a 'a longer-term assessment of crisis, continuity and change' among the Irish Catholics of Liverpool (p. 1). Belchem's work, however, is no mere exercise in obscurantist archive-grubbing, and one of the many impressive features of this book is the ease with which Belchem brings a diverse array of interdisciplinary perspectives to bear on his material. This level of theoretical sophistication and engagement places this book at the centre of wider historical and sociological debates about the nature of migration and the formation and maintenance of ethnic identity. This book provides a vital contribution to the historiography of the Irish in Britain.

Economic History Review, 61, 4

Author Information

John Belchem, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Liverpool, is acknowledged as Liverpool’s leading historian, whose many publications include editing the Liverpool 800 book, published on the city’s 800th anniversary. He recently contributed to the Peterloo Massacre bicentenary programme.