Friday, March 24, 2017

Labour & Pop Culture: In the City of Chicago

This week’s installment of Labour & Pop Culture is “In the City of Chicago” by Christy Moore. This song talks about the immigrant experience of Irish who fled the Irish potato famine of 1845-1852 and settled in Chicago. During this period, approximately 1 million Irish died and another million emigrated.

Emigration is often best understood by considering both push and pull factors. Contemporary research suggests that push factors include the need to seek employment and, more importantly, a sense of dissatisfaction with life in their home community.

Pull factors included employment prospects in the destination community, as well as the desirability of the destination (e.g., ability to find and integrate into a social community, availability of housing). As the Irish potato famine (or the more recent exodus of Syrians from their country) reminds us, sometimes the push factor overwhelms the pull.


In the City of Chicago,
As the evening shadows fall,
There are people dreaming,
Of the hills of Donegal.

1847, was the year it all began,
Deadly pains of hunger, drove a million from the land,
They journeyed not for glory,
Their motive was not greed,
A voyage of survival,
Across the stormy sea.


Some of them knew fortune, some of them knew fame,
More of them knew hardship,
And died upon the plain,
They spread throughout the nation,
They rode the railroad cars,
Brought their songs and music,
To ease their lonely hearts.


-- Bob Barnetson

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