Irish language in the Black Country

I listened to a 10-minute online talk about the Irish language in the Black Country. The Black Country is an area in the West Midlands, adjoining Birmingham to the west.

The talk The Irish Language in the Victorian Black Country (Gaeilge sa Tír Dhubh Victeoiriach) is by Simon Briercliffe, a doctoral student at Birmingham University and researcher at the Black Country Living Museum It is available at

An extended text supporting Simon’s talk is available at and

A few snippets I picked up from the talk:

  • By 1851, more than in Wolverhampton contained a sizeable proportion of people born in Ireland—more than 1 person in 20. Many of them were from the counties of Galway, Mayo or Roscommon in the province of Connacht [Connaught].
  • An Irish journalist, AM Sullivan, of the Irish newspaper The Nation, visited the Black Country in 1856 and wrote that Gaelic [Irish] was heard more often than English in Darlaston, Oldbury and Wednesbury.
  • Similarly, Friedrich Engels wrote in 1848 that infinitely more Irish was spoken in London than in Dublin. He added that Irish was spoken a little less in Liverpool than in London, but still more than in Dublin.
  • When Queen Victoria visited Wolverhampton in 1866, she saw a banner saying Céad míle faílte (‘a hundred thousand welcomes’). Today there is a large sign saying ‘a hundred thousand welcomes’ on Digbeth coach station in central Birmingham.
  • Several Irish words have found their way into the Black Country dialect of English.

My possible Irish link in the Black Country

My 4 x great grandmother, Rebecca Tucker (abt 1763-1846), lived in Tipton (Staffordshire, in the Black Country). DNA research by another of Hannah’s, descendants (Mark Grace) suggests that Rebecca may have had Irish ancestors.

I have written about Rebecca, her daughter Hannah Tucker and granddaughter Susannah Whitehouse on my family history blog at

Mark Grace has written about Rebecca and Hannah in various posts found at  

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