In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

seas, the reverse is equally true. In these and other cogent instances, The Irish Diaspora offers provocative challenges to conventional assumptions. In Akenson’s words, “the fun is to follow” (273) as researchers explore new possibilities for conceptualizing the Irish world wide. —Eithne Luibheid Irish Illegals: Transients Between Two Societies, by Mary P. Corcoran, pp. 224, Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1993, $49.95. Although the greatest influx of Irish immigrants into the Unites States occurred in the bleak years following the Famine in the mid-nineteenth century, Mary P. Corcoran determines that the now centuries-old route between the two countries is also well-traveled by thousands of contemporary Irish. The difference between the roughly 30,000 “new Irish” who have entered the United States annually since the mid-1980s and their historical predecessors, however, is that these newest immigrants face the additional complications of illegality when they decide to remain after their travel visas have expired. In Irish Illegals, Mary P. Corcoran conducts a detailed sociological study of the “new Irish” experience in the New York City boroughs of Queens and the Bronx. Using personal observation and informal interviews conducted with sixty Irish illegals, the author presents an engaging examination of the issues and concerns facing this newest generation of Irish immigrants in America. Beginning with a sociohistorical review of Irish immigration patterns to the United States since the sixteenth century, Corcoran establishes a context for the present wave of Irish immigration. The author emphasizes the shift in Irish thinking about emigration over the centuries. Earlier Irish emigrants were thought of as noble exiles escaping British economic and political oppression, but, following the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, emigrants were seen as adventurers “bent on broadening their ‘horizon of opportunity’.” Corcoran attributes Ireland’s slow economic recovery from the worldwide recession of the late 1970s stimulated contemporary immigration to America. She describes three categories of the “new Irish”: “bread and butter immigrants,” searching for better economic circumstances; “disaffected adventurers,” disillusioned with the “quality of Irish life”; “holiday-takers,” viewing their illegal sojourn in the United States as an extended vacation before an eventual return to Ireland, where they will assume their actual vocations. All three categories according to Corcoran are accepted and even encouraged by friends and family who remain behind in Ireland. Once they have arrived in New York City, the “new Irish” find only limited job prospects. Their undocumented worker status forces these Irish illegals to find BOOK REVIEWS 175 employment in the more “informal” labor sector which includes construction, restaurant and bar trade, and private home care. A broker, usually an established and legal member of the Irish community, will often serve as go-between in the patron-client system of employment that dominates this illegal job market. Such a system ultimately results in low wages, an isolation from the mainstream of American society, and a sense of powerlessness for most Irish illegals. When not working, the “new Irish” congregate at local Irish bars which serve as cultural centers. These establishments provide access to job and accommodation information, allow the immigrants the much-needed privilege of cashing checks, and afford fund-raising opportunities in emergency situations, as well as a place for socializing. Though such bars may at first appear to be supportive havens for the “new Irish,” Corcoran cautions that many of these establishments promote a “high degree of provincialism and internal fragmentation,” as individual bars usually claim an affiliation and loyality to a particular region or county in Ireland and can be very unwelcoming to outsiders. Rather than supporting cohesiveness in a community already marked by transitoriness and suspicion, such an environment divides the “new Irish” community even further. The issues of identity and ethnicity are so complex in the “new Irish” community that Corcoran devotes an entire chapter to unravelling the intricate web of home culture (Ireland), host culture (America), and ethnic culture (the establishment Irish-American community in the Bronx and Queens), which the Irish illegals must learn to negotiate. Because of their illegal status, most “new Irish” feel isolated from any significant involvement with American society. Conversely, this isolation forces an even greater reliance upon the Irish ethnic...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1550-5162
Print ISSN
0013-2683
Pages
pp. 175-177
Launched on MUSE
2017-08-31
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.