The Irish in Scotland



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The Irish in Scotland
When Irish came to Scotland they tended to live with other Irish people and formed their own communities away from the Scots. There are many reasons for this in some cases it was because they chose to and in other ways it was because they had no choice. One way they had no choice was that some people would not rent to the Irish as they thought they were dirty and didn’t want them in their tenements. Also the Irish tended to be poorly paid and the rent tended to be low in areas which had high numbers of Irish. Some Irish only Irish Gaelic and the language barrier prevented them moving to areas to mix with Scots. On the other hand many Irish preferred to settle amongst their own because Irish Catholic immigrants in Scotland often faced hostility, discrimination and even violence when they came to Scotland. It was only natural that they wanted to stick together for safety and mutual support. Secondly most Catholics wanted to live close to a chapel. In fact priests even encouraged the Irish to stick together, who preferred the Catholic community to remain apart from the predominantly Protestant Scottish society in which they lived. Finally immigrants wanted to be close to a Catholic Church, which was usually in the Catholic district and this led them to settle with other Irish.


  1. Copy and paste the sentence in red into a new word document.

  2. Copy and paste the table below and fill it with reasons from the text.




Irish settled with other Irish because they wanted to as…

Irish found themselves almost forced to settle together because….







Religious Problems
80% of Irish immigrants were Catholic, this led to problems between the two sides because Scotland is mainly Protestant. Only 20% of Irish immigrants were Protestants. Irish Protestants found it much easier to be accepted and integrate into Scotland as they originally came from Scotland, had the same religious beliefs as Scots and many had family connections in Scotland. Their children went to the same schools as Scottish children and they did not face discrimination – they lived and worked amongst the Scots population


  1. In your word document put the title ‘ Religious Problems’

  2. Describe the religious make up of Irish immigrants to Scotland. Why did this cause problems.

  3. Describe 5 ways in which Protestant Irish were able to mix well and integrate into Scottish life.

The fact that most of the Irish coming to Scotland were Catholic caused problems. The Protestant Scots were worried by the huge amounts of Catholic Irish they saw Catholicism as a threat to the Protestant religion and thought it was a plot to allow Rome (Pope) to control Scotland. This clash over religion and the hatred and violence due to it is called sectarianism. Catholics faced violent attacks , for example outside Church and this was especially true after football. For example in 1909 there was a massive riot in Hamden after a Rangers/ Celtic match. The arrival of Protestant Irish increased tension and sectarianism between the two religions by opening Orange Orders in Scotland. These came from Ireland and were anti- Catholic, they had annual marches which often led to violence. The fact that the Irish kept themselves apart and focused their socializing around the Church with other Catholics. This made the Scots more suspicious of them. In the 1920s the Church of Scotland launched a campaign to get the unemployed Irish sent back to Ireland.!




  1. Why did the Scots feel worried about large numbers of Catholic Irish coming to Scotland? (2)

  2. What does sectarianism mean?

  3. Give examples of the violence towards Catholics due to sectarianism.

  4. How did Protestant Irish immigrants make sectarianism worse in Scotland?

  5. Why were the Scots often suspicious of the Irish?



Why did the Scots not like the Irish?
The Irish were disliked for other reasons apart from their religion. When many Irish arrived in Scotland they were thin, filthy and dressed in rags. This created a bad impression of them. This was made worse by the fact that as did the fact that their low levels of education led to the Irish being seen as less intelligent and inferior to Scots, especially as many of them could not speak English but Irish gaelic. Some Scots disliked the Irish because they thought they were lazy scroungers and thieves who came to Scotland to claim poor relief ( money from the government). They were also blamed for increasing crime and drunkenness. Irish were blamed for housing problems and this also caused tension between Irish and Scots. Scots also worried that Irish were taking houses and increasing housing costs. Irish immigration was thought to be the cause of many of Scotland’s social problems. Slums and disease were blamed on Irish immigrants. Increases in epidemic disease such as cholera and typhus were blamed on Irish immigrants. Irish immigrants faced hostility due to work as Irish immigrants would work for lower wages than Scots. Scots feared that competition from cheap Irish labour would lead to job losses and lower wages for Scots. Plus employers would often used Irish immigrants to break strikes by Scottish workers which lead to a loss of jobs for Scots.
Task – In your document create ‘Call out’ shapes which show why the Scots did not like the Irish.
E.g.


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