Emigration Part of Our Irishness


About this Item

Emigration has become a major part of Irish life. Willie O'Reilly has spent 35 years going back and forth to England. On the boat once again he talks of his experiences as an emigrant.

  • Title
    Emigration to London
  • 1st Broadcast
  • Contributor
    Patrick Gallagher (Reporter)
  • Clip Duration
  • Material Type
  • Series title
    7 Days
  • Clip title
    Emigration Part of Our Irishness
  • Extended description

    Willie O'Reilly carrying a suitcase and other passengers board the mail boat at Dun Laoghaire 

    Reporter Patrick Gallagher, "Emigration, it is a word we don't like a cold abstract word. Better to say going over the other side, going to England like Willie O'Reilly and 20,000 others this year alone. Taking the mailboat from Dun Laoghaire as he has done on and off for thirty five years. Ten years ago 60,000 went only one third of that number this year but all those thousands mount up to one million people who left this country since it became a free nation. Poets, writers, ballad singers, all have placed this boat in our consciousness. It is part of our Irishness this movement of people."

    Willie O'Reilly talks about the changes he has seen in travelling to England since his first trip thirty five years ago.

    Another passenger Mr O'Brien wearing a badge of the Irish Guards Association talks about his career as a soldier in the British army. Says he could not get a job in Ireland once he told people he had been in the British army. He joined the English police force in Derby. Says black people and people from Pakistan making it harder for the Irish to get work in Britain.

    View of Dun Laoghaire harbour from the boat as it approaches with passengers on deck.

    Reporter Patrick  Gallagher, "It is not far in miles from Ireland to England but for some the distance is too far. Most after years still show signs of stress. For a few born in a more uniquely Irish tradition the sense of loss can never be repaired."

     A male emigrant who is not named speaks at first to Patrick Gallagher in Irish. He says he has two sons and a daughter in England. He would like to have brought them up in Ireland but says he could not have them educated in Ireland now as they do not speak a lot of Irish. Patrick Gallagher asks why as an Irish speaker the man did not teach his children the language. The man says that Irish would have been no use to them in London.

    Willie O'Reilly and passengers disembarking and boarding a train. On the train to London Willie O'Reilly talks about how he came to England first when he was only fifteen. Things appeared so different for him he found the English accents hard to understand, and had never seen an escalator before. He found the people cold and their conversation was abrupt. Television and radio mean now that Irish people have a better understanding of English people and England.

    As Willie O'Reilly looks at a map of the London Underground. and walks along a street. 

    Reporter Patrick Gallagher "Arrival demands an immediate process of orientation finding your way about, the grind of looking for a job and for somewhere to live. Many emigrants have friends and relatives to help them they can by pass the employment agencies and the various Irish institutions. They can vanish quite easily into anonymity."

  • Information

    '7 Days', for ten years RTÉ television's flagship current affairs programme, began broadcasting on 26 September 1966. The programme's young production team was made up of producer Lelia Doolan, directors Eoghan Harris and Dick Hill, and reporters John O'Donoghue, Brian Cleeve and Brian Farrell.

    Muiris Mac Conghail became producer of  '7 Days' in 1967 when the programme was merged with another current affairs programme, 'Division'.

    The extract shown here is from a special edition on emigration to London broadcast 10 October 1967.

  • Local keywords
    Emigration, Emigrants, Ferries, Trains, Irish Language, Dun Laoghaire, Euston Station, London, Willie O'Reilly, Employment, Unemployment, British Army
  • Geographical coverage
    Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, London
  • Topic
    Society and Social Issues
  • Publisher Broadcaster
  • First broadcast channel
  • Production year
  • Country of production
  • Original identifier
  • IPR restrictions
    Rights Reserved - Free Access
  • Rights terms and conditions

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  • Item type
  • Item colour
    Black and White
  • Item sound
  • Aspect ratio
  • Language used
    English (eng)
  • Original language
    English (eng)