Madness & Migration Project

Madness, Migration and the Irish in Lancashire, c.1850-1921

In September 2009 Dr Catherine Cox, and Prof Hilary Marland, University of Warwick, secured funding from the Wellcome Trust for a 3-year collaborative project on the relationship between Irish migrants, ethnicity and mental illness from c.1850 to 1921. The project builds on the Enhancement award and on existing expertise in the history of psychiatry at the Centre intensifying collaboration with national and international partner institutions.

Currently, one of the ongoing challenges within history and psychiatry is to explain high rates of psychological disturbance amongst migrants and minority ethnic groups more generally. In historic and contemporary literature, the relationship between migration and mental illness has been variously linked to exposure to new social demands and cultures, isolation, trauma, discrimination, and deprivation. This project will situate the experiences of Irish pauper asylum patients and those treating them within a broader canvass of efforts to manage perceived and real problems of disease, poverty, and intemperance amongst Irish migrants.

Dr Sarah York was appointed Research Assistant on the project in February 2010. Under the terms of her employment, Dr York completed a nine month period of research at the University of Warwick before joining the Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland, UCD in November 2010. As part of the project, a workshop was held at the University of Warwick in September 2010. In June 2010, a second event took place in University College Dublin. The main outputs will comprise a co-authored book, three articles, a workshop, conference and public engagement activities.


Large numbers of Irish immigrants in cramped lodging houses and slums contributed to the spread of disease, Wellcome Library, London
Speakers Dr Catherine Cox, Professor Hilary Marland and Dr Sarah York Project Title Madness, migration and the Irish in Lancashire c.1850-1921 Summary In the first half of 1847 an estimated 300,000 Irish migrants arrived into the port of Liverpool. Irish migration into Lancashire escalated significantly during the Great Famine and […]

Madness, Migration and the Irish in Lancashire, 1850–1921