Irish history and related emigration patterns

The house swap I've been considering in Ireland led to conversations with my Mum about how odd it would be if I ended up in Ireland, where her ancestors came from. That led to discussions about which parts of Ireland they were from and how she couldn't find information about her grandmother. I ended up immersed in Irish genealogy records like the census records and parish records, which are online. I also found a group solely set up to research my ancestors on my great grandfather's line in Ireland. Shame there isn't one dealing with his wife's side as that looks like a bit of a dead end.

I knew that my grandmother and her brothers were born in Singapore because he was in the police over there and that after returning to the UK, Kent, one of her brothers had emigrated to Canada (he eventually returned to Kent) and another to Australia, where we now have a whole branch of the family of my ninety year old great uncle who is still alive and living in Perth. What I wasn't really aware of was how widespread the previous generations already were. This generation really weren't pioneers within the family at all. My great grandfather had seven siblings and what seems like hundreds of cousins and it's amazing to see the records showing them being born in Ireland but dying in places like the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and thinking about how many descendants of these distant relatives there are out there, mostly unknown to us these days, which is a shame.

Totally out of context, whilst taking him to lycee on Monday morning, my son told me he thought he'd got a really good mark in his recent history test at lycee as it was a subject he'd found really interesting and he'd wrote really long answers. They'd been studying Irish history and the related emigration patterns. I hadn't known about it because he's an interne and I don't get to discuss the specifics of subjects they're studying much these days. I wish I'd known though, as I could have given him some info about his family. He said his classmates had been looking at him during their discussions, saying that he has an Irish name (that of my first husband) so maybe his family were all over the place. He'd replied that I was English and his father Scottish and he had no idea how far back the Irish name went or where his ancestors came from. He didn't know he had Irish ancestory on my maternal side so he was amazed when I told him what I'd been reading up on while he was away.

I found our discussion about the subject quite surreal because here he is, being educated in France, and learning about Irish history. I was educated in England and didn't learn anything about it at all. Our history was a choice of learning about the monarchy in Europe or British social and economic history (Ireland was never mentioned in that class). So I'm totally ignorant about the subject and he's getting quite the expert because of his interest in it. It's not just the history lesson either - apparently his English teacher is from Northern Ireland and her class has maps of Ireland all over the walls. They always end up discussing Ireland and she's planning a trip to Ireland for the English class.

I'm wondering if it's just this lycee that studies Ireland or if it's part of a national curriculum. Does anyone know? Also, do they study the history of Ireland in UK schools nowadays? Is it just me that was brought up ignorant of Ireland's history or was it off everybody's curriculum?

Jacqueline, The counties of Cavan and Monaghan are also in both The province of Ulster and the Irish Republic, not just Donegal.!

Haha. Oddball is because of how it is in diplomatic terms, thus when working with citizenship it is one of perhaps four countries that are unlike others.

I was being simplistic and actually I think I know quite a bit of it having had a good solid look at the Scots influence in the north. My father's family of his and earlier generations were fanatical anti-catholics, Calvinists to the dotted i. They supported everything the protestants did in Northern Ireland and faulted what the others did. So, whilst finding out about the people I looked a bit at the history. The IRA was more or less responsible for the cold, which is what Scotland is every winter.

Thanks for the potted history, a useful reminder at the least of what the situation is. I came at it above from an Irish academic's work. She being a senior academic who advises government, I guess is a straight down the line republican. From her point of view it was how things are but perhaps a bit biassed if you or I look at it. The information Ursula gave me is taken from the republic's position and uses the constitution as a basis in which the separation of Ireland into two countries and is, I surmise, using the Sunningdale rather than Belfast Agreement, whereby the former omits self-determination for Northern Ireland, recognition of both Irish identities and inter-island cooperation. I believe there was a whole string of countries who never acknowledged the separation including the USA who seem to have done so after the Belfast Agreement was signed. So, from her point of view there is nominally still one Ireland and people in the north are entitled to Irish citizenship.

Believe me when I say, looking at the anomalies of citizenship and the disparity between that and nationality, then looking at the position of people aged below age 18, excluding females for life in a handful of countries still, plus ethnic minorities who formally do not exist although there are large numbers of them, makes Ireland look very normal. Anyway, it is also interesting to be reminded and also be further reminded that here in Europe an awful lot of things are never resolved although we take for granted they are.

Jacqueline, way back when some of us were working on citizenship rights for children we established that Ireland is one of the world's few oddballs. Northern Ireland is a 'province' of Ireland that chose to remain part of the UK. However, following the constitution in the Republic which makes all people born on the island Irish citizens unless they opt out to have the UK (NI) instead. Without spending hours searching through a dozen or so box files, I think it works out that if you registered as an Irish citizen at birth and hold an NI issued one then you are a dual national entitled to both. So both passports easy, if you do not apply for the Irish citizenship cum birth registration then later it is difficult but not impossible. My colleague Ursula Kilkelly at University College Cork who is an academic human rights lawyer gave me the reference for that at the time, so perhaps would be the person to ask.

For any info relating to finding info on Irish family, heritige, or anything else. Speak to Sean T Traynor of Ballycastle.

You can find him on Facebook. He found all my relatives in less than 1hr !!!!!!!!

Right - I did my last year down at Winckley Square, with the Park School sixth form girls. It was all very new at the time, classes with grown-up girls ....

No Mike, somewhere there is a fairly accurate number if anybody wants to go looking. The 4,700+ deaths in the stupid Dieppe raid are included in the 200,000 military deaths IN France for some reason. Anyway, with civilians it was less only about 1.35% of the population and a generation is calculated at between 18% and 25% to allow for swings in birth and death rates (infant mortality - U5MR particularly) and split down the middle roughly. If only men had died, that would have been say 12.5 divided by 1.35 = a bit over 9% of the male generation. It gets lower once you faction in females who were roughly a third of the 350k civilians.

WW1 was a huge chunk of a generation, which along with the disabled for life was pushing half the male generation. Gruesome stuff.

The idea that three quarters of a millions died is not borne out by the numbers of known dead and 'missing' combined and of those who died in captivity, in fact many of them were interned civilians. There were small concentration camps type of holding areas in France too. The military figure was 1.8 million, equivalent of about 10% of men in France then.

Repatriation of some POWs did occur from 1940, the Vichy French government encouraged it but set up the unpopular relève system for the exchange of POWs for French workers going to Germany. Prisoners who returned to France by either repatriation or escaping were not well received by the French civilian population and have never really enjoyed official recognition.A large proportion of military personnel, officers and NCOs especially, were held until 1945 in in Oflags and Stalags. The death rates in the camps were relatively low, 220,000 actually worked and were fed and housed well.Vichy propaganda reported that prisoners lived in good conditions. Many civilians believed that the prisoners had suffered much less than civilians during the conflict and also blamed them for the French defeat, accusing them of being cowards who had surrendered rather than fight to the death for France.

My first wife's father, a Corsican, was interned in Germany for a couple of years but because he was a Corsican nationalist, a teenage conscript rather volunteer and had been wounded during the conflict was repatriated. He learned good German and was one of the hoteliers who was taking in German tourists well before most other 'French' hotels. He said it was little different to being at home in the camps he was in.

They aren't asked much quite frankly at brevet level it is really very basic & has to be so everyone can leave collège with something - & after all it corresponds to year 10 in the UK which is when they start learning to write essays etc. What you might call 'proper' work starts in première (it used to start in 2de but now they shove everyone through to lycée général we have to spend an awful lot of 2de doing what we euphemistically call 'revision' or 'consolidation' ie the stuff they should know, but don't. Depending on whether they are in L ES or S they won't have the same amount of history in their timetable either - I think it is a good thing that they have any at all - I suppose in that they have a broader curriculum it is inevitable some depth is lost. My daughters in L & ES did a lot of history (& the one who did ES is reading history at university now) the one who did S did less (she's in prépa scientifique now but still has a bit of hist/geog on her timetable).

When I was still teaching in the UK I used occasionally to give my A level pupils questions from O level papers (NOT gcse) to do: cue wails of despair, gnashing of teeth, cries of oooh this is sooooo hard... I don't know what percentage of the population did O levels when I did them in the v late 70s (vs cses, I mean) but gcses certainly didn't raise the level of attainment although, obviously, they gave more people access to 'academic' qualifications.

(For some reason there was no "reply" button under your reply Jacqueline Synnott) ... the answer is, I just applied, and got, the Irish passport. No special procedures, no special permission, they just gave me one. The UK passport was already issued.

I think you are right, losses were much greater in WW1. Unsurprisingly, in the circumstances, it is hard to find accurate records, but some think that WW2 losses could have been up to ¾ million, with up to a million taken prisoner, a large number of whom died in captivity.
So on reflection, it might have been more accurate to say half a generation.

In the second conflict, the French felt they had been betrayed by the retreat of the BEF (that the British like to glorify with stories of a brave flotilla of little ships going the rescue of our boys) and were unable to continue fighting due to lack of logistic support.

There is still a resentment over the Dunkirk retreat and the French never forgave Churchill for sinking their fleet. In Normandy, Patton is the great hero, despite the damage he did on the way through, and old men still like to offer a drink to any visiting American.

Lark Hill convent and dad taught at Preston Catholic College. These two got eaten up along with Winckley Square convent to form the 6th form Newman College.

The Foucault's Pendulum, yes ; we used to want to send it spinning but the museum guards were very alert :)

Which school, Helen? I was at St Mary's Methodist, St Mathew's CoE, and Preston Grammar (had my last year there combined with the Park School to make a "modern co-educational establishment")

My reply got eaten up - i must not have saved it. In the early 80s we studied physical and human geog. Geomorphology, climates, weather, vegetation, soils, urban and economic geography. We didn't study where places are on a map though ! My kids couldn't tell me how a river is formed or different practical things. They covered much of this in primaire. they studied seismology for the whole of 4eme. Likewise they could tell me all about genetics which they studied from various angles for the whole of their 3eme SVT but they have no idea about human biology and the detailed functions of the various organs which would be very useful for them which we learned in Biology O level.

My perception is that the practical stuff was covered in primaire

In history O level we were required to write essays but my kids at Brevet level were never required to write an essay - perhaps a paragraph argumentee. Presumably because much is document based now.
I feel like an old fogey but I do think that it is important for kids to have a thorough grounding in all the basics.

My daughter is in Terminal but she is doing an OIB which doesn't represent the standard Bac generale of seconde so I can't really comment for her as much of her history and geo had an american slant.

The boys are respectively in 1ere and Seconde but I learnt more geography and history by O level than they do at Bac level. Perhaps it is just a perception because they study in a completely different manner - more document based work. [Of course, since they are all internes, I tend to miss their work - I just find out what books they bring home from Friday's lessons].

What level are your children at, Helen? Because the programme is fairly heavy-duty, at least in lycée.

I can see the link between some history and some geography but I fail to understand why they are both taught as one subject here and in the UK. I feel that collegiens and lyceens learn no geography (apart from a whole year studying volcanoes) and no history beyond 20C european. Same limitations with svt. O level in history, geog and biology in the early 80s taught us much more than my kids learn today.

I went to school in Preston and remember being very impressed by an exhibition of fans at the Harris museum and of course their huge pendulum in the entrance is eyecatching.

My dad taught 17th century european and later tudor history and I learnt 19th C british history. My Irish friends and OH know more british history than I do ....

Had Scotland gained independence they had the details in the manifesto. It required verifiable evidence of one parent or grandparent's birth in Scotland or right to UK citizenship derived from either generation. So, a birth certificate or birth register entry is best, failing that any other identification document such as a passport or military pay book. I would assume that Ireland being part of the union then and your grandmother being born in a crown colony had UK citizenship, even if referred to as 'Colonial Irish', translate that into Irish on independence and there you probably have your best chance.

The born in a particular country bit you referred to earlier is valid for those who are not born to nationals of country X but having been born and registered there have claim to citizenship which can be claimed down two generations as well. But that is entirely different since your g-grans were Irish. If you have the birth certificate or a usable copy of it then you have enough usually.

Think you are a bit out there Mike. WW1 was almost 1.4 million dead and really a large chunk more to make about 1.8m total, something like 3.4% of the population whereas WW2 was only 200,000 military deaths and around 350,000 civilians around 1.35% of the population. That is population not necessarily French. Of the civilian deaths many were elderly, women and children plus well over 120,000 were not actually French but were refugee populations from other European countries including many who had fled Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal, whereby there was a large number of eastern European, Austrian, Hungarian, Czech and German Jews, many of whom were turned in, especially by the Vichy regime.

So,to say an entire generation of young men is a vast exaggeration. Incidentally, the military casualties include the French SS Divisions and Panzer regiments that were almost totally lost in Russia and other actions. Some just over 300,000 French men served in the Axis forces although among them perhaps 100,000 or 150,000 actually fought and represent something between a third and half of all French military deaths.

The trouble with history again. A lot is left out but it is there if people really want to know, which most do not. What you can't see can't hurt.

Another story about the French in WW2. The English always assumed that they had surrendered without a struggle. The truth is that they lost almost an entire generation of young men and only surrendered when there was nobody left to fight.
I once took a coach trip from London to Paris. We stopped in France for a comfort break and not wanting a drink in a smoky bar, I took a stroll around and chanced upon a war cemetery. There were a few hundred allied graves, but all the rest were French, set out in ranks on the hillside as far as the eye could see. A sobering sight that changed my view of history.