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Images
Images are exciting historical documents. They let us see something of what life was like in the past. Look at these images to build up a clearer picture of Irish people in London.

St Leonard 's, Shoreditch, as Rebuilt in the 1730s

 

 

St Leonard's, Shoreditch, as Rebuilt in the 1730s

In 1736 there were anti-Irish riots in Shoreditch. Local workmen believed that Irish builders and craftsmen were charging lower prices. This meant the Irish people were employed and the local people were not.

Buildings like St Leonard 's, Shoreditch are monuments to the fine craftsmanship of the Irish people who created these fine buildings.

Gardeners at Carlton House, Pall Mall , 1751

Gardeners at Carlton House, Pall Mall, 1751

Many Irish people worked as gardeners when they came over to England.

An Irish Wake at St Giles, eighteenth century

 

 

An Irish Wake at St Giles, eighteenth century

A company of people gather around a person who has recently died.

The Wake is the traditional form of Irish funeral. There are strict rituals to follow, such as keening or crying over the body.

One of the most important parts of the Wake was watching over the body. Family, neighbours and friends would stay with the person, celebrating their life and giving comfort.

The customs of the Wake were not always understood and appreciated away from Ireland .

This image shows the people gathered but does not show them in a good way.

West India Docks, c. 1810

 

 

West India Docks, c. 1810

From the mid-19th century the rapid growth of docks and riverside industries brought new residents. Irish people became increasingly important in political movements which set out to change society.

Irish dockers were an important and large group of employees. The dockers were among the most downtrodden workers in the country. Every morning they had to wait at the dock gates competing for work.

On 14 th August 1889 the great dock strike began. The men in the West India Dock, led by Ben Tillett, stopped working in order to get fair pay. The stevedores, led by an Irishman called Tom MCCarthy, joined Tillett's men. Within three days, 10,000 workers had joined the strike.

The Seven Dials, nineteenth century.

 

 

The Seven Dials, nineteenth century.

This area was created in 1690. Thomas Neale got freehold of the area and built houses. Neale designed a street system based on a six-pointed star. Later a seventh was added.

Over the next hundred years the houses of rich businessmen and merchants declined into a terrible slum.

By the nineteenth century Seven Dials was a maze of filthy streets, courts, lanes, and alleys. Many Irish people lived here because they were too poor to live anywhere else.

Paddington Canal , early nineteenth century

Paddington Canal, early nineteenth century

Barges can be seen on this part of the Paddington Canal . Irish people played a vital role in building the network of canals, not only in London but across Britain .

Views in the Rookery, St. Giles, nineteenth century.

 

 

Views in the Rookery, St. Giles, nineteenth century.

'Wretched houses with broken windows patched with rags and paper; every room let out to a different family, and in many instances to two or even three - fruit and 'sweetstuff' manufacturers in the cellars, barbers and red-herring vendors in the front parlours, cobblers in the back; a bird-fancier in the first floor, three families on the second, starvation in the attics, Irishmen in the passage, a 'musician' in the front kitchen, a charwoman and five hungry children in the back one - filth everywhere - a gutter before the houses, and a drain behind - clothes drying, and slops emptying from the windows; ... men and women, in every variety of scanty and dirty apparel, lounging, scolding, drinking, smoking, squabbling, fighting, and swearing .'

Charles Dickens, Sketches by Boz , 1839 on St Giles Rookery

Palm Sunday in Spitalfields. The Irish community celebrate Easter, 1844

 

 

Palm Sunday in Spitalfields. The Irish community celebrate Easter, 1844

Like all communities in London , Irish people celebrate festivals. Here the Irish Catholic community have gathered to parade for Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday marks the day Jesus entered Jerusalem at the start of Easter week. It is a very important date in the Christian calendar.

Haymaking in Highbury, c.1880.

Haymaking in Highbury, c.1880.

Irish people came to England to help with the harvest for centuries.

Petticoat Lane Market in the late nineteenth century.

 

 

Petticoat Lane Market in the late nineteenth century.

In this picture we can see members of many different communities buying and selling second hand clothes. It is a crowded and busy scene which gives a good idea of the hustle and bustle of Petticoat Lane .

Many of the people in this picture are presented as stereotypes. This means presenting someone in a general way that is meant to be typical of a particular community.

Irish men were often depicted with a beard just round their chin and a round hat. Irish women were usually shown with a shawl.

Stereotyping can lead to prejudiced ideas. When looking at a picture it is important to think hard about what is being shown.

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