Profs and Pints Northern Virginia presents: “Those Who Left Ireland,” a look at what drove the Irish diaspora and at the destinies of the Emerald Isle’s emigrants, with Matthew Dziennik, associate professor of History at the United States Naval Academy and scholar of the British Empire.
The story of Irish immigration to the United States often gets told through the horrific accounts of the two million people who left Ireland during the potato famine of the 1840s and 1850s. What is less well remembered is that for more than 200 years before that period emigration had already been a common feature of life in Ireland.
Gain a deeper understanding of the long history of Irish emigration with Matthew Dziennik, who teaches British and Irish history at the United States Naval Academy and who has published on the role of Irishmen in the American and French Revolutions.
We will follow in the footsteps of the political prisoners, soldiers, merchants, weavers, and peasants who took flight to all parts of the globe, including Europe, North America, Asia, and Australasia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. You will learn about the history of Ireland in this period and how emigration was both a voluntary and involuntary response to the conditions of the time.
You’ll also hear about the complex lives of Irish immigrants. Some ventured forth to escape British rule and fought against the crown in the armies of Louis XIV, George Washington, and Napoleon Bonaparte. Others served the British Empire and helped make it a global empire. Some did both. The Ireland of this period was a complicated place that defies easy explanations.
At the end, we will explore what emigration before the potato famine says about Ireland and Irish history and how the story of Irish emigration is essential to understanding the nation’s present. Irish migration is the story of harsh economic realities, new opportunities, and a population caught in the midst of seismic change. Learning about it is the perfect way to get geared up for Saint Patrick’s Day. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: A Dublin sculpture by Rowan Fergus Meredith Gillespie memorializes victims of Ireland’s great famine. (Photo by William Murphy / Creative Commons.)