Book looks at significance of Irish immigrants in Buffalo and Toronto

Between Raid and Rebellion partial book cover

In a new book launching Tuesday – Between Raid and Rebellion: The Irish in Buffalo and Toronto, 1867-1916 – York geography and history Professor William Jenkins compares the lives and allegiances of Irish immigrants and their descendants in one American and one Canadian city between the era of the Fenian raids and the 1916 Easter Rising.

The book, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press, will launch Nov. 5, from 5 to 7pm, The Common Room, Massey College, 4 Devonshire Place, Toronto. Everyone is welcome to attend. David Bettween Raid and Rebellion book coverWilson, a modern Irish and Irish North American history professor at the University of Toronto, will be the master of ceremonies, while Donald Harman Akenson, a Queen’s University Canadian and Irish history professor, will deliver remarks.

Between Raid and Rebellion book by William Jenkins

Highlighting the significance of immigrants from Ulster to Toronto and from Munster to Buffalo, Jenkins distinguishes what it meant to be Irish in a loyal dominion within Britain’s empire and in a republic whose self-confidence knew no bounds.

He pays close attention to the transformations that occurred within the Irish communities in these cities during this fifty-year period, from residential patterns to social mobility and political attitudes. Exploring their experiences in workplaces, homes, churches, and meeting halls, he argues that while various social, cultural, and political networks were crucial to the realization of Irish mobility and respectability in North America by the early 20th century, place-related circumstances linked to wider national loyalties and diasporic concerns.

With the question of Irish home rule animating debates throughout the period, Toronto’s unionist sympathizers presented a marked contrast to Buffalo’s nationalist agitators. Although the Irish had acclimated to life in their new world cities, their sense of feeling Irish had not faded to the degree so often assumed.

Considered a groundbreaking comparative analysis, Between Raid and Rebellion draws upon perspectives from history and geography to enhance our understanding of the Irish experiences in these centers and the process by which immigrants settle into new urban environments.