A new book explores the stories of hundreds of thousands of people who were forced to emigrate between the 1940s and 1980s in search of jobs and new lives.
In "McAlpine's Men -- Irish Stories From The Sites," historian Ultan Cowley tells the story of those who emigrated to Britain during the Second World War and up until the end of the eighties.
Cowley said that many irish left home at an early age.
"Some of these Irish immigrants were as young as 14 or 15. Many had never been on a bus or a train. They wore old-fashioned clothes, and when they opened their mouths in Britain nobody could understand them, they were so different from the slick, urbanized British they came into contact with," he told the Irish Independent.
The author interviewed retired Irish building workers all across the UK. Many men found work in the legendary building company McAlpine,which inspired the book title.
"Many of these men and women had never been asked their stories before because academics, by definition, were too soft to go and talk to them. I had an advantage in that I wasn't some fresh-faced kid out of college," said the sixty-four-year-old Cowley.
Cowley pointed out that today’s Irish emigrants are very different to their ancestors.
"The Irish now shop in the same chain stores as the British. They have the same mobile phones. Because of modern media, they know what to expect of Britain. In fact, the British think the Irish are quite sexy, which would have been unheard of years ago," Cowley said.
Mr. Crowley intends to donate a percentage of the profits from the sale of his book to the "Forgotton Irish Campaign."
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