I Wouldn't Start from Here: The Second-Generation Irish in Britain

Ray French, Moy McCrory and Kath Mckay (eds)

The Wild Geese Press launches with a collection to showcase second-generation Irish writers in Britain. Not quite British, not quite Irish, through their essays, fiction and poetry about music, family, and history these distinguished writers explore questions of identity and belonging and ask the perennial question: where is home – here or Ireland?

The writers gathered here hold up a mirror to the diverse and complicated experience of the Irish in Britain. The collection features essays, fiction and poetry from Elizabeth Baines, Maude Casey, Ray French, Maria C. McCarthy, Moy McCrory, Kath Mckay and John O’Donoghue and many more.

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  • Ian Duhig charts how the ‘tough-lived’ life of his parents’ generation finds its way into the ‘dream-songs’ of his poetry.
  • Sean Campbell focuses on second generation Irish musicians in England and explores how KevinRowland used the music of Dexy's Midnight Runners to express his Irish identity.
  • Graham Caveney examines how Shane MacGowan’s mouth came to epitomise the figure of the drunken Paddy, obscuring more interesting ways of seeing him.
  • Moy McCrory explores what authenticity and belonging mean to a writer, and reflects on a Catholic past with its imagery of saints and miracles.
  • Elizabeth Baines writes about her father, ‘caught between two stereotypes, the contemptible rough Irish peasant and the romantic Irish charmer, desperate to bury the one but unable to help playing up to the other’.
  • Ray French’s father dreamt of leaving a Welsh town ‘clotted with factories, docks and noisy, crowded streets’ and returning to the simple life in rural Ireland.
  • Dr Tony Murray discusses how the Archive of the Irish in Britain preserves the heritage and achievements of the diaspora.
  • Marc Scully focuses on diverse Irish communities in Britain today, and how they sustain their hybrid identities.
  • Maude Casey looks back at her experience of activism and the increased hostility towards the Irish community in Britain in the 1980s.
  • John O’Donoghue claims asylum in poetry and by recognising himself as ‘a child of the diaspora … a city as real and big and dirty asLondon’.
  • Kath Mckay probes the Irish influence on the ‘most un-English’ city of Liverpool, her home town.

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