Saturday 17 March 2018

We came, we saw, and in Tubridy's book, conquered

John Spain Books Editor

RYAN Tubridy's new book has detailed how Britain was the "land of opportunity" for thousands of Irish people who emigrated there.

'The Irish Are Coming' chronicles the contribution so many Irish people who went to live in Britain have made there over the years – despite the "occasional borderline racism" they experienced.

The book, which will be published next week, profiles more than 40 prominent Irish people in the UK, who, Tubridy says, "really did help to make Britain Great".

Those covered range from chat show hosts Eamonn Andrews and Graham Norton, to comedians from Dave Allen to Dara O Briain; actors from Peter O'Toole and Chris O'Dowd and many writers, politicians, builders and businessmen.


All of them prospered in Britain and Tubridy thinks it's time we woke up to how welcoming the British have been to us for decades. "The book is a bit of fun, but there's a serious message underlying it," he said.

"We all know about the 800 years of oppression but it's time we got over our history and our traditional attitude to the Brits. Most of us have moved on, but you still detect a reservation among some people.

"The fact is that the British have been good to us over the years, giving us free access there and jobs. It was an important escape route from the miserable Ireland of the 1950s. And they continued to do that over the years, even when the IRA were bombing British cities during the Troubles.

"The relationship between Britain and Ireland has been more of a two-way street than has been recognised.

"We travelled in our droves looking for work and plenty of doors opened for us on our arrival. It wasn't always pretty and it wasn't without occasional borderline racism, but for plenty of Irish people it was Britain, not America or Australia, that proved to be their land of opportunity. They helped us, but we certainly made our contribution in return.

"I think the queen's visit was a very significant moment in history for everyone. It had a huge impact and I think it was very revealing as well," he adds.

Tubridy says his own children and their generation cannot comprehend what had been going on in the North during the Troubles.

"The hatred and the tit-for tat killings, it's beyond their understanding," he said. "The old hatred or even dislike for all things British is also something they just do not get."

Tubridy said he enjoyed his time working in Britain on BBC Radio 2 during the summer and he particularly liked being able to stroll around London and not be recognised by anyone.

'The Irish Are Coming' will be published by Collins on Thursday, November 7.

Exclusive Extract: Ryan Tubridy on Graham Norton in weekend Review today

Irish Independent

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