In my book, Irish Transatlantics, 1980-2015, I use the idea of transatlantic to illustrate a range of modern Irish migrant experiences that bridge both places – 20 stories in all – most drawn from the 84 interviews I conducted in Ireland and America between 2013 and 2016. The people I profile – artists, academics, entrepreneurs, carers – describe how they lived through a period of major structural changes, economic downturns and upswings that influenced their mobility, their sense of belonging and ultimately where they lived. They had to adjust to what it meant to be Irish in America and had to do so again back home in an Ireland populated by new immigrants.
I wanted to chart a story of this changed migration circuit, the emergence of extensive transnationalism, and crucially to document how people who were part of this unusual story made sense of and understood their experience.
In addition, I argue that the flow of Irish emigrants to America as we have known it is over and will never be again. In future, Irish-born migrants will reflect the rich diversty of Irish society where foreign nationals from 200 countries comprise over half a million of the Republic’s 4.6 million. What it means to be Irish “here and there” has become even more complicated.