Many friends and colleagues have contributed in different ways to this book. After completing my postgraduate work at Queen's University Belfast, under the expert tutelage of Liam Kennedy, I was fortunate to secure a research fellowship at the Institute of Irish Studies, and then subsequently a lectureship in the School of History in 1999. At this time Queen's Belfast was an exciting place to be for an Irish historian. Discussions and debates with such talented scholars as Tim Bowman, Sean Connolly, Peter Hart, Alvin Jackson, Liam Kennedy, Patrick Maume, and Fearghal McGarry have profoundly influenced my approach to writing the history of the Irish abroad. Other people who offered encouragement and guidance included Bruce Campbell, Ian Green, and the late Martin Lynn.
From 2000 until 2005 I was involved with the first phase of the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. During this period the Diaspora project, under the leadership of Tom Devine, established Aberdeen as the UK's leading centre for diaspora and migration history, and brought me into direct contact with a number of the leading international figures in this field. In 2004 I moved to Aberdeen for a post in the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies and the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, and I would like to thank the following individuals for sharing ideas and offering support during my time there: Nathan Abrams, Andrew Blaikie, Nick Evans, the late Janet Hendry, Allan Macinnes, Andrew Mackillop, Angela McCarthy, Esther Mijers, Micheál Ó Siochrú and David Worthington.
Since joining the School of History and Classics in Edinburgh University in late 2006, I have been reunited with a senior figure in the profession who has helped shape my career over the last decade. Since I first met Tom Devine in 1998, I have never ceased to be impressed by his energy, vigour, and intellectual leadership. From my undergraduate days at National University of Ireland Maynooth, Vincent Comerford has been a source of inspiration and a much‐valued mentor and friend, who always makes time to offer wise advice. Don MacRaild, perhaps more so than anyone else, has helped shape my thinking about the Irish in modern Britain and equally urged me to (p.ix) think critically about the scope, purpose, and objectives of this project, as well as being a good friend and pioneering co‐worker in this field. Kevin Kenny, who, through his own pioneering work on transatlantic approaches to studying the American Irish, has established new ways of looking at the history of the Irish overseas offered sharp insights and constructive criticism on my earlier work. Marianne Elliott kindly took time away from her own writing to read and comment on a draft chapter and offered much encouragement and a number of incisive suggestions.
Other friends, colleagues, and professional archivists have offered advice, provided references, or identified relevant source materials. My thanks go to John Belchem, Mary E. Daly, Revd Ian Dickie (Westminster Diocesan Archives), Canon Anthony Dolan (Nottingham Catholic Archives), Diarmaid Ferriter, Liam Harte, Micheal Kennedy, Siobhan Kirrane (Luton Museum Service), Tina Morton (Brent Archive), Noirin Moynihan (National University of Ireland), Sean O'Connell, Louise Ryan, Revd Dr John Sharp (Birmingham Archdiocesan Archives), David C. Sheehy (Dublin Diocesan Archives), and A. E. C. W. Spencer.
The research on which this book is based was supported by the Research and Conferences Fund, Queen's University Belfast, the AHRC Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen, and a Small Research Grant from the British Academy. This financial support for my work enabled me to consult materials held in archives throughout Britain and Ireland, for which I am very grateful.
Anne Gelling at Oxford University Press originally accepted my proposal to write on this subject. Her successor as commissioning editor, Rupert Cousens, has dealt with this project in a similarly professional and efficient manner. Zoe Washford and Rachel Woodforde guided me through the production process and Dorothy McCarthy did a superb job of copy‐editing the original text.
The dedication reflects a debt of gratitude to my father, who insisted that conventional wisdom should always be questioned and challenged. He, together with my dearly missed mother, created the environment where discussions about politics and history were part and parcel of everyday conversations. Thanks to my wife, Kathryn, for her constant support which sustained me during the inevitable dark days that accompany any writing project.