Archives of the Irish Diaspora List,
This is the link to the freely available
and searchable Archives of the Irish Diaspora List, 1997-2017…
The Archives of the Irish Diaspora List,
1997-2017 can be downloaded here…
Note that downloads are available in three
I have put versions of the note you are
reading now here, in the ABOUT section, of that web site.
There is also a version on my blog, at
and brief versions in other places, notably
Facebook and LinkedIn…
Enough time has now passed, and I think I
can now bring to your attention the availability of the Archives of the Irish
Diaspora List, 1997-2017 as an online resource.
The Archives are free for anyone to use for scholarly and research
Note that we have distorted all email
addresses within the archives, so that they cannot be misused. Most email addresses within the Archive will,
in any case, be out of date. Note that
web links, URLs, within the Archive will be old, out of date and unlikely to
The Archives of the Irish Diaspora List,
1997-2017, make available some twenty years of Irish Diaspora Studies reference
and discussion, over an important period in the development of our field.
The Irish Diaspora List project never
received any funding of any kind from any source – it was brought together and
maintained as a spare time activity, for twenty years, by volunteers, as a
service to the scholarly community. I
thank all those volunteers, and all the members of the Irish Diaspora List, for
their support and friendship over twenty years.
I thank especially my friend and neighbour,
Stephen Sobol, formerly of the University of Leeds, who was my guide and
support through all the technological changes described below.
I thank Bill Mulligan, Murray State University,
Kentucky, who has long been a support and a friend - and Anthony McNicholas,
University of Westminster, who stepped in at a crucial time,
Yet again, I thank Russell Murray, formerly
of the University of Bradford, who can never be thanked enough.
Some day, in the right circumstances, I
might do a Secret Lecture, on 'The Secret History of the Irish Diaspora List...'
In the meantime...
The Irish Diaspora List, 1997-2017, was the
email discussion forum for Irish Diaspora scholars throughout the world.
The Irish Diaspora List arose out of the
networks I put in place to bring together, edit, and publish the series,
Patrick O’Sullivan, Editor, The Irish World Wide, 6 Volumes, 1992-1997.
That series was created in the era of paper
letters (in envelopes), phone calls, faxes – and personal contacts, hunted
down, one by one. My 65 contributors
were spread over 4 continents. And some
day I might do the Secret Lecture on 'The Secret History of The Irish World
Wide.' Subtitle: 'What I got wrong.'
In bringing together The Irish World
Wide, 6 Volumes, it was clear that, as we opened up and mapped out our
research territory, those personal contacts were valued - research
conversations developed. Further and
future conversations were mapped in my Introductions to The Irish World Wide
In the 1990s the use of computers and
computerised systems began to take off – the web, databases, catalogues,
bibliographies and email. Of course, the
universities were early developers and users of email.
One development of email was the email
'list', whereby a piece of software has its own email address, and keeps a
veritable list of email addresses of members of a group. An email sent to the software’s address is
automatically distributed to every email address, and person, on the list.
I founded the Irish Diaspora List in 1997 -
when I had a notional base at the University of Bradford. The University of Bradford then used the
Majordomo software to run its email lists.
I will leave it to someone else to write
the history of Majordomo – it was a sturdy piece of software. Though – in a pattern that we are all now
familiar with – you had to work with the software in order to find out how the
software worked. At one point, I wrote a
Guide to Majordomo, so that not everyone had to go through that strange
There was one specific problem with the
Majordomo software - and, again, it is a problem we have by now all encountered
in other areas. There was no built-in route
to the creation of an archive. But it
was obvious from the beginning what the route had to be – there had to be,
somewhere, a database with its own email address. This we created. Throughout the 20-year history of the Irish
Diaspora List there has been, in effect, an extra member, an email address,
which collected every message sent to the List and stored it in my back-up database.
I was thus able to preserve the Archives of
the Irish Diaspora List. Through many vicissitudes,
which included changes of policy within large organisations, and major computer
crashes within large organisations.
In 2004 I moved the Irish Diaspora list to
Jiscmail, the UK’s academic Listserv. In
Jiscmail parlance, I became the 'owner' of the Irish Diaspora. Which I thought was funny then, and still
think is funny now.
In 2011, we were able – with the help of
the technicians at Jiscmail – to integrate the various incarnations of the
Irish Diaspora List, including the rescued material from Majordomo, in to one
database, within Jiscmail. So, from 2011
onwards, the entire archive, from that 1997 beginning, was preserved within Jiscmail,
in the familiar Listserv format. And, of
course, messages continued to accumulate, within Jiscmail, and in my back-ups,
as Irish Diaspora Studies discussion continued.
In May 2012 I withdrew from the day to day
management of the Irish Diaspora List – I simply had to find a better work/life
balance. Bill Mulligan, in Kentucky, and
Anthony McNicholas, in Westminster, wanted to keep the Irish Diaspora list
going. They became 'co-owners' of the Irish Diaspora List at Jiscmail. But I remained interested, of course, and
involved, in the background.
In 2013 we made copies of the Archive of
the Irish Diaspora List, as it was at that point.
We made that material available to the various web archiving projects
that were then active. Copies of the
Archives of the Irish Diaspora List were put on discs, with other research
material, and copies of those discs were lodged with the Archives of the Irish
in Britain, London Metropolitan University, the Glucksman Ireland House, New
York University, and the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies, Omagh.
By 2017 Bill Mulligan and Anthony
McNicholas felt that the Irish Diaspora List had become moribund, and it should
be wound up. I stepped in to negotiate
with Jiscmail – specifically to make sure that an up to date version of the
Archives would be preserved.
Without going into a lot of detail, the
Archive, as presented to us by Jiscmail, needed a bit more rescuing. And it is that rescue, incorporating all the
incarnations of the Irish Diaspora List that is preserved at…
It is proposed to place up to date versions
on disc with the Archives of the Irish in Britain, London Metropolitan
University, the Glucksman Ireland House, New York University, and the Mellon
Centre for Migration Studies, Omagh.
The end of the Irish Diaspora List was sad,
in many ways. The study of Diaspora has
entered an interesting phase. But the
email 'list' is certainly in decline.
That being said, none of the replacements really work - they do not
promote organised discussion. And there
is that recurring problem of the archive.
At its height, the Irish Diaspora List had,
at most, a few hundred members. At its
end it had just 212 members – one of those members was, of course, my back-up
database with its own email address. Further
discussion of the membership, and the use made of the Irish Diaspora List, I
can leave to the Secret Lecture. But I
think it is possible to argue that those few hundred members represented a
significant proportion of the number of people in the world with a genuine,
scholarly, interest in the study of the Irish Diaspora.
The Archive of the Irish Diaspora List is
self-referencing and self-historicising.
Every time there was a development – such as all the changes outlined
above – a message would be sent to the List, and that message is archived. So, if more detail is needed about the
history of the Irish Diaspora List that detail is preserved in the Archive.
But here are a few thoughts on the
management of the list.
In the background I had a number of
standard emails, text ready to send, designed to deal with recurring issues,
attacks or critiques – and the detail of all that can be left to the Secret
Lecture. This, from 1997, was the
standard email sent to all new members of the Irish Diaspora list…
The Irish-Diaspora list
The Irish-Diaspora list is an email discussion forum,
dedicated to the
scholarly study of the Irish Diaspora, and its social,
linguistic, cultural and political causes and
The Irish-Diaspora list is hosted, as a service to
Diaspora scholarly community, by the Irish Diaspora
Department of Interdisciplinary Human Studies,
University of Bradford, England.
The Irish-Diaspora list is run by a small team of
volunteers, led by
Patrick O'Sullivan, Head of the Irish Diaspora
The list is a moderated list. The ethos of the list is scholarly. We
think we need to stress this - at the risk of sounding
ivory-tower-ish - because we feel there are already
places on the Web
and the Internet to support, for example, Irish family
networks or discussions of current political debates
and crises. And we
ourselves follow those discussions with concern and
But what is missing is a forum which hosts scholarly
discussion of the
Irish Diaspora, and is able to support theoretical,
comparative perspectives - this forum is provided by
Irish-Diaspora list members can post recent book
have written, fragments of work in progress, brief
and reports on conference papers - thus we envisage
something that would
be of special help to the more isolated Irish Diaspora
Occasionally material is taken from the Irish-Diaspora
list and given
wider circulation by being placed on the Irish
Diaspora Studies Web site…
Membership of the Irish-Diaspora list tends to expand
introduction and invitation. In the first instance contact Patrick O'Sullivan…
As can be seen that standard introductory
email offered some hopes and dreams - and dealt with a number of predictable
issues, issues that will be familiar to all scholars of the Irish
Diaspora. And that standard email would,
again and again, be quoted – often behind the scenes – as the Irish Diaspora
List lived through all the political developments and crises of those twenty
years, 1997 to 2017.
As can be seen, the List was a ‘moderated
list’ – every message to the List was inspected and approved by one of our team
of moderators, before that message was distributed. We are now all too familiar with consequences
in discussion forums where that does not happen. Our guide to global culture’s current strange
mix of orality and literacy remains as it always was, Walter Ong, and the
versions of Orality and
Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word, from 1982
onwards. It was Walter Ong who gave us
the mantra, ‘the inherent contumaciousness of texts’. All I can say now is that some of the cleverest
people I know had to be, secretly, saved from themselves. Often.
So, in the background, in running a forum
like the Irish Diaspora List there are two rules…
conversation drives out good.
The beast must be fed. Enough new
material must enter the discussion forum to keep the members interested. Interested, but not overwhelmed.
For me, this was easy. I had alerts in place. I had put alerts in place, using the
technological developments outlined above, to bring together the series,
Patrick O’Sullivan, Editor, The Irish World Wide, 6 Volumes, 1992-1997. I added further alerts. I continued to map, catalogue, and seize hold
of developments in the study of the Irish Diaspora – and part of the fun of the
Irish Diaspora List for me was that it was easy enough to share observations,
references and texts with members of the List.
And it was really wonderful to watch our field develop – and to see filled,
by much good work, those aching gaps in The Irish World Wide series.
Of course, all my alerts are still in place,
and I am still mapping developments in the study of the Irish Diaspora.
The study of the Irish Diaspora is now
in a decent enough state. It could be in
a better state – which is something I had hoped to explore further in my new
role as Visiting Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies, London Metropolitan
University. We shall see.
August 16 2020
Visiting Professor of Irish Diaspora
Studies, London Metropolitan University
Patrick O'Sullivan's Whole Life Blog http://www.fiddlersdog.com/
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