People from the Emerald Isle have long been linked to the Scottish city, but how have the Irish in Glasgow shaped the city into what it is today?
With half a million people of Irish descent living in and around the city of Glasgow, being Irish in Glasgow feels just like being at home. Through our shared Celtic roots, there are several similarities between the Irish and Scots, especially in Scotland’s biggest city.
Between mass immigration, the formation of football clubs, and a bustling student life, the Irish have, and continue, to choose Glasgow as their home away from home.
Language − Irish and Scottish Gaelic are long-lost sisters
The Irish and Scottish Gaelic languages are closely related, and like in Ireland, signs in Gaelic can be found dotted all over Glasgow city. If you want to practise your cúpla focail, official Gaelic signage shouldn’t be too foreign.
Take a trip on the subway and see if you can recognise the station’s Gaelic translations. Just remember the fada is backwards – fàilte gu Glaschu!
The Great Famine − increased mass migration to Britain
While people from Ireland had consistently migrated to the United Kingdom for hundreds of years, following the Great Famine in the 19th century, cities like Glasgow saw a noticeable rise, with the arrival of 50,000 Irish in Glasgow in 1847 alone.
While most of these people came from impoverished backgrounds and brought widespread poverty and overcrowding to the city, the numbers arriving from Ireland soon steadied, with most choosing to stay and make Glasgow home.
The influence of this migration can still be felt in the fabric of the city, and today you can visit St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church’s Tower of Silence, which pays tribute to the one million people who died between 1845 and 1852 during the Great Hunger.
The formation of Celtic FC − one of Scotland’s most successful football clubs
In the very same St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Celtic FC was born. Established by Irish clergyman Brother Walfrid in 1887, the club was created in a bid to alleviate poverty in the East End of Glasgow.
The foundation was inspired by Hibernian FC in Edinburgh, which was also started by an Irish immigrant population. The name was chosen to reflect the Celtic roots of both countries, and the four-leaf clover was adopted as the club’s emblem.
Celtic’s popularity with the Irish is still felt today, with the descent of hundreds of Irish people onto Glasgow on matchdays. Good luck not hearing a familiar accent in one of the city’s Celtic bars after a win!
A host of great Irish players have made their mark on Celtic as well, helping the club to great success, such as goalkeeper Packie Bonner and Lisbon Lion Charlie Gallagher.
A rise in Catholicism − the Irish arrived with their religious beliefs in tow
The 19th century brought many Irish people to Glasgow, and these arrivals brought with them their religion. Today, Catholicism accounts for 16% of the Scottish population’s faith.
If you’re looking to recreate your Sunday childhood ritual in Glasgow, why not pop into St. Andrew’s Cathedral for morning mass and nip into Toby Carvery for your Sunday roast afterwards?
An abundance of Irish bars − you’re never far from a sing-song
Thought that Irish bars abroad were solely created for Da’s to escape the Spanish sun? Think again. Irish bars also have icon status in the cities of our nearest neighbour. Glasgow boasts several bars that any Irish in Glasgow will undoubtedly be familiar with.
Kitty O’Shea’s, Malones, and Waxy O’Connors are all infamous names on the Glasgow bar scene. In Glasgow for the All-Ireland Final? Don’t worry; you’ll find several pubs with it plastered on the big screen, most likely selling Guinness and Tayto to seal the deal.
A thriving student life − Irish people flock to Glasgow for university
The excitement of a bustling city just a stone’s throw away from home has made Glasgow a consistent favourite with Irish students over the years.
In fact, figures from the University of Glasgow reveal that admissions to the university are higher from Ireland than from any other EU country.
With remnants of Ireland to be found all over the city still to this day, and a shared love for music, storytelling, and the craic, there’s no wonder young people are still flocking to Glasgow to enjoy their university experience.