Sophie Cooper

We are very excited to welcome Dr Sophie Cooper to the Placecloud experts team. Sophie is a social and cultural historian of Ireland and Irish migrant communities elsewhere in the world (often known as the Irish diaspora). She focuses on the 19th and 20th centuries and her research ranges from bombing campaigns to nuns. Sophie’s first book is forthcoming with Edinburgh University Press and explores the Irish communities of Melbourne and Chicago.

Sophie will be publishing a series of viewpoints on the Irish diaspora imminently:

St Patrick’s Hall, Melbourne

The home of the St Patrick’s Society of Australia felix. Opened in 1849, the St Patrick’s Hall was rented out to the Victoria Legislative Assembly in 1851 when the colony separated from New South Wales that year. The St Patrick’s Society took the Hall back in 1856 when the Legislative Assembly opened.

O’Brien’s Bar, South Halsted Street, Chicago

On 5 August 1872, Christopher Rafferty shot two Chicago police officers in Mrs O’Brien’s Bar. All involved in the crime were of Irish birth or descent. Rafferty had 3 trials – being found guilty of murder each time – and he had become a celebrity of sorts by the time he was executed in 1874.

Dagenham Ford Factory, London

From the 1950s, the Ford Factory employed tens of thousands of Irish factory workers, largely from Cork. This viewpoint will consider the community lives of the Irish workers there.

Spaghetti Junction, Birmingham

Part of the story of Irish navvies and construction workers in Britain which began in earnest during the 19th century. Spaghetti Junction was built, in part, by post-war Irish migrants to Birmingham.

Plaza Irlanda, Buenos Aires

Home to Saint Brigid’s College and Monsignor Dillon College as well as a bust of Patrick Pearse. This viewpoint will be used to give a snapshot into the Argentinian Irish diaspora and the work of Irish religious orders abroad. 

Irish World Heritage Centre, Manchester

The IWHC is a focal point for the Irish community in Manchester. This will soon expand to incorporate the new Irish Consulate in the North of England.

Little Ireland, Manchester

In the 1830s and 1840s, Little Ireland became infamous for its poor living conditions. Engels visited the area in the 1840s and wrote about it in The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845), Despite being called Little Ireland, this slum area did house a multi-ethnic population. 

Cobh/Queenstown Port, Ireland

The main departure point for Irish emigrants during the 19th century, particularly during the Famine years (1845-53). This viewpoint will be used to explore Irish migration during the mid-nineteenth century and life around the port.

Old St Patrick’s Cathedral, Chicago

The first ‘Irish’ church in Chicago, established in the 1840s. It served as a focal point for Irish Catholic activity in the Near West Side. This viewpoint will focus on early Chicago, the national church in Chicago, and the specific architecture of this Church.

Sr Agatha’s Academy, Chicago

A fee-paying girls’ school which was named after the first Mother Superior of the Irish Sisters of Mercy in Chicago, Sr. Mary Agatha O’Brien. Sr Agatha has a fascinating story in Ireland and was heralded as a hero in Chicago for her work with cholera victims in 1852 (when she also died of the sickness).

St Francis’ Church, Melbourne

Focal point of the Irish Catholic Church in Melbourne until the opening of St Patrick’s Cathedral (next door). Home of a number of important Irish and Catholic organisations.

Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne

Established by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, the Abbotsford Convent was a Magdalen Laundry, orphan asylum, and school in the 19th century. Source of a lot of intrigue from the wider public at the time. It is now a public venue with a farmer’s marker each week.

Healy Hall, Archer Avenue, Chicago

Site of a floor collapse in 1868 during a Fenian meeting. It killed one and injured at least 9. This will be used to tell the story of Fenian/Irish nationalist organising and support as well as linking to the wider story of Archer Avenue (one of Chicago’s major thoroughfares). 

State Library of Victoria, Melbourne

Will focus on the establishment of the SLV by Irish-Australians, how it connects to ideas of Melbourne as a ‘working man’s paradise’.

The Palmer House, Chicago

Hosted numerous St Patrick’s Society events during the 19th century. Also connects to the Chicago fires of 1871 and 1875.

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