Where They Went
Where people went changed over time. During the nineteenth century, the vast majority of Irish emigrants went to the United States. Many also went to Canada, with a substantial proportion of those winding up in the United States after a few years. England and Scotland were always viable options, because the trip over was less expensive and less permanent. More distant English colonies, like Australia and South Africa, also saw a good number of Irish immigrants, although many of the newcomers to Australia weren't there of their own free will — the English sent prisoners and rebels to Australia.
Where people were from in Ireland played a part in where they wound up. Most of the people from the southwest and west ended up in the United States, while families from the north more commonly went to Canada. A longstanding tradition of migrant laborers going seasonally from Donegal to Scotland made Scotland the favored destination for Ireland's northwest. People in the east were more likely to head over to England.
The number of emigrants dropped significantly in the twentieth century. A trend of anti-immigrant sentiment swept the United States, making it less popular as a destination. From the 1930s on, an increasing percentage of Irish immigrants moved to British cities such as Liverpool, London, and Edinburgh. These cities offered the job prospects of an industrialized society, but they were close enough to home that people could make the trip back for the holidays. Large Irish communities developed in these cities, offering emigrants cultural continuity, a chance to practice their religion, and a degree of political influence.