'The stranger within my Gate': Irish emigrant narratives of exile, tradition and modernity in post-war Britain

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This essay discusses the use of oral narrative in interpreting the Irish migrant experience in post-war Britain and reveals the extent to which oral methodology challenges established norms about the Irish Diaspora. Informing the essay is an oral history project carried out with Irish migrants in Birmingham between 2005 and 2008 and extracts from these interviews illustrate, amongst other factors, migrants’ struggle to balance the demands of the ‘homeland’ with the opportunities of modernity, and their contestation of an exile identity. Essentially, this paper demonstrates how textual analysis of oral narrative illuminates the process of identity reconfiguration that occurred in Irish enclaves and determines the significance of gender, class, religion and nationalism in informing the migrant experience.


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