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Irish Migrants in Modern Wales$
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Paul O'Leary

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780853238485

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846313356

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The Cult of Respectability and the Irish in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Wales

The Cult of Respectability and the Irish in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Wales

(p.119) The Cult of Respectability and the Irish in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Wales
Irish Migrants in Modern Wales

Paul O'leary

Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores the extent to which sections of the migrant community came to subscribe to the mid-Victorian cult of respectability, presenting claims for the plurality of the Irish migrant experience in south Wales and the evolution of a ‘respectable’ Irish identity. It argues that plurality is the key theme of Irish settlement in mid-nineteenth-century Wales, and, in addition, describes the link between the Irish and ideas prevalent in the host society. Irishness was continually constructed and reconstructed, defined and redefined. Friendly societies were actively encouraged by the Catholic Church. The domesticity of Irish women was a barrier against ‘leakage’ from the church as well as maintaining the morality of the home. Dress was intimately associated with rigid codes of behaviour. Moreover, women added to the cult of respectability.

Keywords:   mid-Victorian cult, respectability, Irish migrant, south Wales, Irish identity, Irish settlement, Irishness, Catholic Church, domesticity, Irish women

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