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Welcoming the Stranger: Irish Migrant Welfare in Britain since 1957


Patricia Kennedy

March 2015

This is the untold human story of how the Catholic Church met the welfare needs of Irish emigrants in Britain since the 1950s. Based on a wealth of personal interviews and newly discovered archive material, Welcoming the Stranger offers a unique insight into how the Anglo-Irish relations impacted on emigrants coming to Britain during turbulent times.

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Foreword by Jimmy Deenihan, T.D.

This lively book tells the untold story of the crucial work carried out by the Irish Emigrant Chaplaincy in Britain on behalf of Irish emigrants for over half a century.  The service was established by the Catholic Church in 1957 and the hidden history revealed is one of political intrigue; economic booms and busts; MI5; international relations; miscarriages of justice; Papal Encyclicals; Gospel teaching and the struggle for equality and justice. The vital work of the Irish Emigrant Chaplaincy was conducted against a background of battling against the odds and the establishment. It is the story of Irish and British migration history in modern times and Anglo-Irish relations unfolding over turbulent and politically sensitive decades.

Based on archival research, a wealth of personal interviews and newly discovered material – most notably those of Bishop Eamon Casey and Archbishop John-Charles McQuaid – the roll-call also includes the most prominent world and church leaders of the period: Margaret Thatcher, John Hume, Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese, and Cardinals Hume & Ó Fiaich.  Welcoming the Stranger critically examines how the Irish government was forced to take responsibility for the Irish abroad.

Table of Contents

  1. Emigration from Ireland to Britain—The Start of
    the Journey
  2. The Church and Migration: Universal and Local
  3. Origins of the Irish Emigrant Chaplaincy
  4. Ministering to Labourers and Hotel Workers
  5. Reaching out around Britain
  6. Influencing Housing Policy in Britain
  7. Expansion and Consolidation
  8. The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO)
  9. The Task Force on Emigration
  10. From 2007 Onwards

About the Author

Dr Patricia Kennedy is a writer and researcher. She was a Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at the School of Applied Social Science in UCD from 1995 to 2014. Prior to joining UCD in 1995, she was employed in both Ireland and Britain as a youth and community worker.