The Irish census records from 1841 and 1851 demonstrated a nearly 20% drop in population over the course of the Great Famine, accounting for both death and emigration during that period. Among this drop was the community of nearly 1.5 million emigrants who left during the decade, a number accounting for half of the citizens leaving Ireland in the nineteenth century. While most of this community were permanent migrants, an estimated 10% of those who emigrated to the United States returned to Ireland during the second half of the century. This research will analyze the construction of Irish emigrant identity amongst return migrants and their descendants. While the motivations for emigration during this period were widely varied across the entire class of emigrants, the motivations for return migrants seem clearer. It is this community of return migrants who, while remaining explicitly tied to their national identities, chose to return despite the social, political and economic factors that had prompted the exodus of their fellow emigrants. These migrants, while still tied to their roots as Irish citizens, faced the cultural exchange that is a critical part of the transnational emigrant experience. This research will determine how, facing their identities as both immigrants and Irish citizens, this community bridged the gap between the two communities which receive the greatest focus in famine migration study, those who stayed and those who fled.
Walsh, Brittany, "Perceptions of Identity in Post-Famine Irish Return Migrants" (2014). Student Research Day Abstracts and Posters. 54.