March 27, 2023
Annapolis, US 59 F

Profs and Pints: Those Who Left Ireland March 14th!

Nearly a tenth of the U.S. population identifies as Irish American. Still, many who claim familial ties to the Emerald Isle know little about how their ancestors came to be here. The widespread assumption that such immigration was driven by Ireland’s great famine of the mid-1800s fails to account for how the Irish were settling on our shores well before the American Revolution and continue to seek new lives here to this day. It also ignores how some of the Irish who had journeyed here later returned home and how many who left Ireland never traveled to our shores, opting to settle elsewhere.

Gear up for this year’s Saint Patrick’s Day by learning about such mass human migrations from Ireland’s perspective. Dr. Matthew Dziennik, who teaches British and Irish history at the United States Naval Academy, will deliver a March 14th talk on the Irish diaspora as the product of centuries of emigration that deeply impacted other nations, including our own. 

Here are details of the upcoming March talk:

Those Who Left Ireland,” is a look at what drove the Irish diaspora and 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 Associate Professor Matthew Dziennik, an historian 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, 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.)

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