We had a great turn-out at the Writing on the Wall event, when I conducted a walking tour around the city centre. We started at St Luke’s church, where the Memorial to the Irish Famine stands. The walk took in the old Pleasant Street School, the former Irish Centre, a view of both cathedrals and a peek inside the grandiose Oratory to see the statue of Agnes Jones. We finished by visiting the gravestone of Kitty Wilkinson in the grounds of the cemetery below the Anglican cathedral. From there we took the short walk to Toxteth Library, the headquarters of Writing on the Wall, just on the other side of Parliament Street. Here we had tea and biscuits and a discussion about Liverpool in years gone past.
I was very fortunate to have not one but two radio interviews this month, to publicise the book, In Hardship and Hope. The first was with the redoubtable Frank Carlyle, on Mersey Radio. I was on my toes, as Frank knows a great deal about Liverpool history. The interview went out on the 15th of Jan, so you may still be able to have a listen.
Also got a mention on the Jimmy McCracken show on Radio Merseyside, on Wed 10th Jan. I was interviewed by Paul Beesley, who is a local tour guide, so also knows his stuff. We had a good chat about the research behind the book, and what effect the Irish influence has had on Merseyside. We also discussed the sectarianism which was so prevalent in Liverpool in the past, and how remarkable it is that it has all but disappeared. I’ve made a note to go on one of Paul’s local history tours some day soon.
Meanwhile, I am delighted to say that sales are still steady. The latest outlets are Pritchards in Crosby, and the shop at the Museum of Liverpool, down by the windy Pier Head.
BBC Radio Merseyside – the country’s most popular local radio station – is to broadcast an interview discussion about Hardship and Hope. I met Paul Beesley today at the studios and had a chat. Paul himself is a local history expert and guide. We discussed the motivation behind the book, why I wrote it, and what sort of reader might be interested. The broadcast goes out soon, on the mid-morning programme. Possibly tomorrow ( Wed) at around 11-00. Fingers crossed.
Delighted to say that In Hardship and Hope is now available in Waterstones Liverpool One, where they have already had to order a fresh batch. You will find it in the local history section, on the ground floor. If you bear right , going towards the escalator at the main entrance, you will see the section to your right. Please don’t buy all copies at once. leave some for other people.
Greg will be reading from In Hardship and Hope at News From Nowhere, Bold Street, Liverpool, on Sunday 26th November at 2.00.
This will be followed by a Q & A. Signed copies of the book will be available.
In Hardship and Hope was launched at the University of Liverpool on October 23rd. Thanks to all those who came. A special thanks to Professor Frank Shovlin who chaired the meeting, and to Eithne Browne who did the readings.
Photos to follow.
A new book on the history of Liverpool Irish will be launched in October 2017. ‘In Hardship and Hope’ by Greg Quiery tells a narrative history of one of the largest European migrations in modern history and how Irish culture has shaped Liverpool.
Liverpool’s Irish heritage is well known. A large proportion of the city’s inhabitants boast Irish ancestry. A new book, written by social historian, musician and guide Greg Quiery presents a narrative history of the community. Launching at the Institute of Irish Studies during the Liverpool Irish Festival, the book describes the struggle for social and political acceptance in Liverpool by the Irish immigrants and the impact of the city’s Irish heritage on Liverpool’s modern culture.
From Newtownards in County Down, Greg Quiery moved to Liverpool from Belfast in 1974. He is a former fellow at the Institute of Irish Studies, a board member of the Liverpool Irish Festival and chair of the Liverpool Great Hunger Commemoration Committee. ‘In Hardship and Hope’ charts the rise of Liverpool’s Irish population, from the first merchants in the 16th century to ‘Lyerpole’ to the steady migration after the Act of Union in 1801. As the Irish economy declined, but its population rapidly expanded, Liverpool welcomed an increasing number of Irish migrants. As the Irish famine reached its height in the 1840s , it is estimated 2.3 million Irish emigrants arrived in Liverpool. Delving into the socio-economic, political and cultural impact of this population shift, the story is occasionally bleak, exploring slum housing and poverty, ongoing sectarian conflict, anti-catholic sentiment, social reform, the impact of faith, riots and disturbances. Anti-Irish sentiment continued into the 20th century, particularly in 1909 and into the 1930s. As xenophobia swept Europe, Liverpool was not immune. The Liverpool Review described the Irish as “a real alien menace” in 1934.
The book examines how the Irish influence contributed to the modern Scouse identity. Irish nationalism and its strong ties to the Labour movement and the Labour Party in Liverpool, the role of the Liverpool Irish in the War of Independence laid the foundation for shaping modern Liverpool’s revolutionary state of mind. “An anti-establishment attitude …has survived in Liverpool … ever since”. With the arrival of Merseybeat and the flourishing of Liverpool’s Scouse identity, a strong affection for Ireland remained in its second and third generations. As sectarianism declined Liverpool and Everton football clubs each commanded a greater allegiance from both Catholics and Protestants than former sectarian institutions. As is noted, both Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II visited the city’s cathedrals in 1978 and 1982 respectively.
In the words of Dr Kevin McNamara, former Labour MP and Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, shortly before his death in August 2017: “(This book) is that unique combination of carefuI and popular scholarship. (Greg) pulls all the strands of the complicated history of the Irish in Liverpool and district together in a few hundred pages of easy reading”.
Mary Hickman, Emeritus Professor of Irish Studies and Sociology at London Metropolitan University writes: “From poverty to politics (the book) covers most aspects of Irish Catholic experiences in Liverpool and many of the most significant characters”.
Greg Quiery: “Having arrived in Liverpool in the 1970’s I was surrounded by people sharing their living history and stories of Irish heritage. There’s an importance in remembering our history, the way migrants were treated, often marginalised in poor housing and poverty. By the 1990s, Ireland’s popular culture meant that past discrimination was forgotten, but migration continues to be a significant force in our world today, which is why the documentation and understanding of the Liverpool Irish remains so important.”
<> Notes to Editors: The launch of ‘In Hardship and Hope’ takes place on 23rd October at the Institute of Irish Studies at 6pm.
The Lesley Hearnshaw Theatre,
Eleanor Rathbone Building,
University of Liverpool,
Admission: Admission is free but places are limited. Please contact Dorothy Lynch (Dorothy@liverpool.ac.uk) to register.