Citizens of Nowhere: longing, belonging and exile among Irish Protestant writers in Britain, c.1830–1970

Colin Reid

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Since the 1970s, the literature on the history of the worldwide Irish diaspora has become increasingly sophisticated, with scholars employing a range of innovative techniques to capture aspects of the migratory experience. Many challenges remain, however, in charting the multifaceted experiences of the Irish in Britain. This article makes the case for a cultural study of Irish Protestants in Britain. It examines the contours of the Irish Protestant migratory mind-set, focusing on the writings of a number of creative émigrés, temporary and permanent, such as W.B. Yeats, Denis Ireland, Nesca Robb, and John Hewitt. Of particular relevance are articulations of longing, belonging and exile, which shaped the literary perspective of these writers, and complicated their relationships with Ireland and Britain. Attitudes regarding emigration within Protestant Ireland are also probed to tease out cross-channel ideals and fears.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-274
JournalIrish Studies Review
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jun 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jun 2016

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