The churches and emigration from nineteenth-century Ireland

The book knits together two of the most significant themes in the social and cultural history of modern Ireland - mass emigration and religious change - and aims to provide fresh insight into both. It addresses the churches' responses to emigration, both in theory and in practice. The book also assesses how emigration impacted on the churches both in relation to their status in Ireland, and in terms of their ability to spread their influence abroad. It first deals with the theoretical positions of the clergy of each denomination in relation to emigration and how they changed over the course of the nineteenth century, as the character of emigration itself altered. It then explores the extent of practical clerical involvement in the temporal aspects of emigration. This includes attempts to prevent or limit it, a variety of facilitation services informally offered by parish clergymen, church-backed moves to safeguard emigrant welfare, clerical advice-giving and clerically planned schemes of migration. Irish monks between the fifth and eighth centuries had spread Christianity all over Europe, and should act as an inspiration to the modern cleric. Tied in with this reading of the past, of course, was a very particular view of the present: the perception that emigration represented the enactment of a providential mission to spread the faith.

Emigration and the spread of Irish religious influence

commentator Orestes Brownson pointed out: What is peculiar in the modern missions of the Irish […] is that the people precede the pastor. They go out from Ireland as soldiers or as laborers, and wherever they go they carry their faith and devotion to the church with them. The priest soon follows them, and the nucleus of a Christendom is formed.14 This, as Brownson implied, contrasted with Ireland’s earlier missions, the medieval ‘golden age’ when Columbanus, Colm Cille, Aidan and other Irish monks had founded significant early Christian settlements across Europe

in Population, providence and empire
Enigmas, agency and assemblage

travels, a very Mediterranean hairstyle that ‘would distinguish Wilfrid and his eventual followers from the Irish monks of Iona’.50 In addition, according to Stephen’s Life, a Roman archdeacon taught Wilfrid how to calculate the correct date of Easter.51 Traditionally, this activity, with the resulting controversy, has been understood as culminating with the famous Synod of Whitby in 664. Michelle Brown warns us that the conflict focused upon this synod was ‘not governed by the overly simplistic nationalistic complexion with which it has been imbued in modern

in Nonhuman voices in Anglo-Saxon literature and material culture
The pastoral responses of the Irish churches to emigration

, delved even further into the past. Irish monks between the fifth and eighth centuries had spread Christianity – Roman or non-Roman, depending upon the claimant’s allegiance – all over Europe, and should act as an 99 Roddy_Population_Printer.indd 99 15/09/2014 11:47 Population, providence and empire inspiration to the modern cleric.57 Tied in with this reading of the past, of course, was a very particular view of the present: the perception that emigration represented the enactment of a providential mission to spread the faith (explored in further detail in Chapters

in Population, providence and empire