Can Ireland’s emigration past inform the incorporation of its immigrant population in the future?


  • Irial Glynn Irial Glynn is a postdoctoral researcher for the ‘Emigre' project examining contemporary Irish emigration, which is attached to the Department of Geography and the Institute for Social Sciences in the 21st Century at University College Cork



emigration, immigration, social cohesion, history, memory


No other European country has experienced such high and sustained levels of emigration per capita over the past two centuries as Ireland, with over 10 million having left the island between 1800 and 2000. Since the late 1990s and especially after the expansion of the EU in 2004, Ireland has received an unprecedented number of immigrants. According to the 2011 census, almost 17 percent of the Republic of Ireland’s population was born outside the state and over 12 percent held a different nationality. Thus far, the Irish state has taken a laissez-faire approach to incorporating immigrants into Irish society. To offset some of the integration problems that have developed in other Western European countries that welcomed sizeable amounts of immigrants in earlier decades, this paper argues that Ireland’s extensive history of emigration might be a useful tool to help the country include its increasingly large immigrant community because of the similar migration experience that both communities have encountered in their transnational pasts.


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