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Statistical analysis of about 500 passport applications by naturalised Americans (or their relatives) who were born in Leitrim. Though useful only for a brief period, this offers the only systematic documentation of ‘returned Yanks’ intending to make short visits, most of whom came back without children and therefore cannot be identified in the Irish census. Many applications are collated with Irish census returns to establish the origins of applicants from Leitrim, generating a profile similar to that presented in the . In addition to biographical variables, the applications permit analysis of the height and appearance of visitors, which in the case of height may be compared with measurements of the home population (Leitrim female visitors in particular were unusually tall). Comparisons are made with the findings and measurements of Harvard ethnographers who surveyed Leitrim in the mid-1930s.
Discussion of complexities of Irish migration from the Great Famine to the First World War, qualifying crude models of irreversible long-distance emigration: evidence concerning internal, circular, and reverse migration is analysed. Published official returns for Irish reverse migration just before 1914 indicate much higher levels than generally alleged. Much of the chapter is adapted from my four contributions to A New History of Ireland, vols 4, 5. Additional information is given on transatlantic shipping, indicating growing demand for eastward passages and increasing provision by major shipping lines around 1900.
Statistical analysis of information on persons born outside Ireland derived from published census reports, supplemented by additional data and information on individual incomers from digital index for 1901–11. This traces steady increase in foreign, colonial, and British presence, and examines differences between national sub-groups. The most conspicuous expansion was in the presence of Americans, whose profile differed sharply from that of all other groups. The American profile provides context for the following four chapters.
Statistical analysis of census returns for about 1,000 Americans and Canadians in ‘élite’ occupations, designed to show the diversity of human emissaries of ‘Americanisation’ with whom home population came in contact. The selected occupational groups, which exclude agriculturists, labourers, domestic servants, shopkeepers, and merchants, mainly represent ‘service providers’ such as clerks, officials, and professionals. Three idiosyncratic and conspicuous groups not easily fitted into traditional census categories are examined in detail in Chapter 5.
The same data are used to classify the stated objects of those seeking to travel outside the United States, who were overwhelmingly bound for Ireland. The great majority wished to visit relatives, particularly mothers, allowing analysis of the age of specified parents using Irish census returns. The second overlapping motive was the need to attend to property at home, an object often indistinguishable from the wish to visit relatives. Very few Leitrimonians were applying solely as business travellers or tourists.
The same approach is applied, with more documentary contextualisation, to those without occupations but of ‘independent’ or ‘private’ means, and to performers and others involved in the creative arts. Special attention is given to musicians and variety artists, using press reports naming some of the visitors. A special study of Mormon missionaries concludes this chapter.
This pictorial essay with a commentary displays seventy-eight photographs of passport applicants born in Leitrim, arranged according to thirteen themes each occupying one page. These images are set against photographs of eight men from Leitrim who were selected by the Harvard ethnographers to represent Irish racial types. The commentary identifies each applicant by name with some biographical information, and explains the attributes of each type as defined by the ethnographers.
In rural Ireland, which proportionately housed most of the American-born, almost no incomers belonged to the elite. This chapter collates all family returns, including an American, allowing identification and statistical analysis of accompanying parents born in Leitrim (‘returned Yanks’) as well as the American-born. Leitrim was the county with the highest component of American incomers by 1911 and, at several periods, the highest intensity of outward migration. Virtually all Leitrim Americans and their parents were enumerated in thatched dwellings on farms. Most American incomers were children, often fostered with relatives in poor and remote districts and houses. It follows that the Americans actually observed in rural Ireland typically suggested economic failure and continued reliance of assistance from Irish kinship networks.
This chapter complements the foregoing statistical profile by identifying hundreds of individual American service providers, typically supplying name, address, religion, occupational description, and house size, often adding age, Irish family connections, and comparison of returns for 1901 and 1911 where available. Additional personal documentation is seldom provided, with the exception of a special study of Latter Day Saints.
This book has portrayed an American expatriate population very different from the cultural emissaries of American values to be found in nineteenth-century Britain or Europe. Only a small, if fascinating, minority belonged to the mainly urban elite that dominated American settlement elsewhere. Ireland was surely the only European country whose American-born population was overwhelmingly shaped by previous emigration. As revealed by passport applications, this also applied to American citizens of rural Irish birth who visited Ireland in the aftermath of the First World War. Both groups were strikingly representative of the rural poor from which they had sprung, and among whom they lived when ‘at home’ in Ireland. At least in the case of the thousands of American-born children and sometimes their parents who sheltered with Irish kinsfolk in the early twentieth century, Ireland’s ‘Americans’ were more likely to be regarded with pity than with envy, being apparently ‘losers’ in the game of international migration. This fundamental contrast to the prevailing stereotype of American wealth and success meant that ‘Americanisation’ was a far darker experience in Ireland than in Britain. Yet it was also more solidly grounded in personal interaction and direct observation, because the American human presence was proportionately far greater and more diffused in Ireland.
Irish emigration to America is one of the clichés of modern Irish history; much less familiar is the reverse process. Who were the people who chose to return to Ireland? What motivated them? How did this affect Irish society? While many European countries were somewhat Americanised in this period, the Irish case was unique as so many Irish families had members in America. The most powerful agency for Americanisation, therefore, was not popular culture but circumstantial knowledge and personal contact. David Fitzpatrick demonstrates the often unexpected ways in which the reverse effects of emigration remoulded Irish society, balancing original demographic research with fascinating individual profiles to assemble a vivid picture of a changing Ireland. He explores the transformative impact of reverse migration from America to post-Famine Ireland, and offers penetrating insights into its growing population of American-born residents.