Irish is the story of the mass migration from Ireland to Glasgow that took place in the wake of the Great Famine of the mid-nineteenth century. It is an epic account of the coming together of a nation and a city. This is the tale of those who escaped a nightmare existence in the poorest and most deprived country in Europe and changed the city of Glasgow forever. Irish brings to life the horrot of those grim days and reveals the unimaginable suffering endured as a result of the Potatoe Blight. It describes in vivid detail the hazards and hardships faced by those fleeing Ireland in search of a better life overseas, including a startling account of one of the most deplorable maritime crimes ever committed, the voyage of the SS Londonderry. The coming of the Irish to Glasgow had a bigger impact on the city than other event. Now, for the first time, the truth about this most significant and stirring episode is vividly unfolded. It tells of the contribution made by Irish labourers in Glasgow to the Industrial Revolution; reveals that the legendary football clubs of Celtic and Rangers may never have existed were it not for the migrant's arrival; and describes the "Partick War", and the occasion of the first-ever Orange Walk.
No British city has ever been so fundamentally affected by a mass influx of immigrants as was Glasgow in the mid 19th century. But these immigrants were no economic scroungers or asylum-seekers. They fled in their thousands from the starvation that was gripping their homeland of Ireland, the poorest and most deprived country in Europe. Their plight was harrowing, their physical condition pitiful, but if they hoped to find a quick fix on reaching Scotland they were to be disappointed. No welfare or charity was offered to them, the locals regarded them as vermin, and city officials were unscrupulous in their zeal to ship every Irish man, woman and child back to starvation. What happened next is a story both romantic and inspirational, and one that says much about the Irish character and Scottish pride. Most of the refugees managed to evade the petty officials and outfaced the hostility of their 'hosts', clinging on to the dream of a new life. They succeeded in a way that was to shape the future not only of Glasgow but of the whole United Kingdom and its Industrial Revolution. Glaswegian journalist John Burrowes has documented the story in an engaging and incisive way, unearthing skeletons that many Britons might prefer to have kept buried. We learn of the appalling conditions faced by the refugees on tiny, overcrowded vessels and the courage they needed on reaching their promised land. The assimilation of such numbers of 'foreigners' into a single city was always bound to be fraught, and it was not accomplished without riots and other forms of social upheaval. Today's Glaswegians look back with gratitude to those hardworking Irish immigrants who helped turn the city into one of Europe's great powerhouses. They were even responsible for the formation of Scotland's two most famous football clubs - Celtic and Rangers. There are salutary lessons for us all in this tale of privation and evolving social history, and John Burrowes has done a remarkable job in telling it. (Kirkus UK)