Welcome to this new initiative, an interactive forum for all those concerned with the history and evolution of the Irish in Britain, and especially the experience of Irish male migrant labour in British construction.
It will provide not only a window on my on-going work in this field of research but also a platform for promoting my multimedia presentations, which bring to life the world of the 20th century Irish navvy.
For more about my background, my book, and previous work see links on left.
'Paddy and the Big Ditch: Irish Labour on the Manchester Ship Canal, 1887-1893, was commissioned by the Irish World Heritage Centre, Manchester, in 1993 to mark the first centenary of the opening of the Ship Canal.
It was followed by The Men who built Britain: A History of the Irish Navvy, in 2001. This book was researched in Britain over three years, from 1994 to 1997, and writen over the following two years in Ireland. I amassed over sixty hours' of recorded interviews with labourers, tradesmen, middle management and family members. The black and white illustrations, many never previously published, were collected from public archives, company records, and private individuals.
It puts the history of Irish male migrant labour in Britain's contruction industry in the 19th and 20th centuries in the contexts of Irish emigratiion and British civil engineering, in the written histories of which the navvy had been no more than a footnote.
I still collect first-hand accounts of that way of life on an on-going basis and, as the older veterans get fewer, men from the 'Eighties exodus come into greater prominence and a new chapter takes shape.
At the same time I continue to tour my One Man Show, The Craic was good in Cricklewood: Songs & Stories of the Irish Navvies.
This features songs and poems of the navvy life, together with first-hand accounts of life on site and in the dancehalls, pubs, and bed-sits of Camden Town, Cricklewood, and elsewhere, against a backdrop of dramatic slide images.