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manchester irish | a history of the irish in manchester (continued)
Simply Red & Green

"Irish people are passionate about sport. It is said that in France you could win your country's national cycling tour seven times and walk the streets in anonymity. However, even win a stage once in Ireland and you are assured heroic status for a lifetime."
- John Scally in his book "Simply Red and Green"

Manchester Irish and the Chartist Movement
Fergus O'Connor

Other Irish immigrants to Manchester also found national fame for differing reasons; Fergus O'Connor and Bronterre O'Brien lead the Chartist movement, whilst another Irish Chartist, Mary Burns, had a secret live-long relationship with the sociologist Frederich Engels.

Frederick Engels was guided around Manchester by Mary Burns who lived in the slum district around Deansgate. She was the local-born daughter of Michael Burns who had emigrated from Ireland to Manchester. So many Irish immigrants lived in similar conditions near Oxford Road that it became known as Little Ireland; another such place off Rochdale Road was called Irish Town.

Engels portarit of the average Irishman living in Manchester did not paint a favourable picture though: "He builds a pigsty against the house wall as he did at home, and if he is prevented from doing this, he lets the pig sleep in the room with himself. The Irishman loves his pig as the Arab his horse, with the difference that he sells it when it is fat enough to kill. Otherwise he eats and sleeps with it, his children play with it, ride upon it, roll in the dirt with it, as anyone may see a thousand times repeated in all the great towns of England." [Buy Engels 'Condition of the Working Class']



The Manchester Martyrs attack the prison van

The Manchester Martyrs
On 11th September 1867, the police arrested two men for behaving suspiciously in a doorway. The two, Colonel T.J.Kelly and Captain Deasy, were leading figures in the Fenian Rising.

A week later, the prison van that carried the two handcuffed from court to Belle Vue Prison was ambushed by a crowd of thirty armed Fenians who had been lying in wait for it. After fatally shooting a police officer, the Fenians escaped with Kelly and Deasy (still handcuffed) never to be recaptured. Three of the ambushers were later executed for the murder of the policeman and went down in Irish Republican history as the "Manchester Martyrs.


Manchester and the I.R.A. - "Why Us?"
The carnage left by the huge bomb planted outside Marks 7 Spencer, June 1996

After many previous attacks, the Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.), returned to Manchester in June 1996 to plant the biggest-ever mainland bomb, ironically in the area previously dubbed "Little Ireland". Amazingly nobody was killed although the city was destroyed.

Nobody was more shocked and upset than Manchester's Irish Manc Rant. Everybody asked the question, "Why Us? Why Manchester?", a question all too poignant with the city's massive Irish connection.

Weeks later in Northern Ireland, the brutal contract-killing of Veronica Guerin also tragically had its connections with Manchester; Veronica, a journalist and mother, was buried with her beloved Eric Cantona Manchester United shirt draped over the coffin.



The Irish Connection video

United Ireland

Manchester United are by and away the most popular sporting club in Ireland, bringing together fans of all religions. One Irish banner at the 1999 European Cup Final in Barcelona read : "MUFC - The Only Religion!".

Why United are so popular in Ireland is a complex question. The most popular belief links the Munich Air Crash of 1958 in which the gifted Irish player, Liam Whelan, was tragically killed at the age of 22.

Many of Ireland's finest have worn the famous red jersey including George Best, Shay Brennan, Harry Gregg, Sammy McIlroy, Norman Whiteside, Frank Stapleton, Denis Irwin, Roy Keane, John O'Shea and Liam Miller. Even Sir Matt Busby was born into an Irish family.


Manc Craic
Toss The Feathers live

Manchester's Irish Manc Rant has produced its own style of traditional music. A fusion between the traditional 'back home' and the more rocky surroundings here 'in town'.

Groups like Toss The Feathers, Flook and Culainn play their own brands of Mancunian celtic music, whilst All-Ireland Champions, Michael McGoldrick and Dezi Donnelly keep "Little Ireland" alive and very much jigging. [See our Manchester Irish music pages].

click here for hotels available this weekend click here for our whats on guide click here for hotels in Manchester click here for our whats on guide
Book your hotels in Ireland here
Buy the book "The Reynolds Letters - An Irish Emigrant Family In Late Victorian Britain"
Buy the book "The Wearing of The Green - A Political History of the Irish in Manchester" by  Michael John Herbert
Buy all your Guinness merchandise here
Buy the Ireland retro tops
Check out our United pages
The Dubliners - Live in Manchester on April 10th - book tickets here!
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