A Survey of the Irish in England (1872) by Alan O'Day

By Alan O'Day

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The individuality which from the first has been a marked characteristic of the Irish race is nowhere more marked than here. That high moral excellence which, after her faith, is the brightest gem in the casket of Irish virtues has preserved with marvellous power the purity of the Irish people in England, though surrounded by the worst and most degrading influences. The patriotic spirit which has defied the persecution, the fraud and force of ages, and which today burns with an intensity as firm and faithful as at first, is in no place more earnest and intense than here, where every pulse throb of English political and social life has its source and centre.

In the United States of America we have an Irish nation more powerful than that which exists in the cradle of our race. In Canada, in Australia, in New Zealand, and at the Cape, are large and prosperous Irish communities rapidly assuming the leading position in the gradual development of those colonies into independent nations. In England the position of our people is more circumscribed, and their apparent destiny different. What that position really is - how it operates in and influences society and the duty and destiny of our brethren in England in relation to the great national struggle now in progress at home — are points 1 2 A Survey of the Irish in England that shall claim special attention in the progress of the commission which has been entrusted to me.

Heinrick's comparison of St. Helen's, Widnes and Wigan made his case. In the first, he calculated that nearly a third of the population was Irish and: they are for the most part unskilled labourers employed in the chemical and glass work for which the town is noted. It will be easily understood that the Irish in coming here have had to commence in the lowest and most laborious places, and if they rise at all must do so in virtue of their superior power of physical endurance and high mental and moral energy.

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