The subject of this study is the attempt to establish a press amid the Irish immigrants in mid-Victorian England. There had long been a notable Irish contribution to English journalism, and the first Irish papers to be printed in England had been founded soon after the Act of Union. The press of the 1860s was to be different, however. Earlier papers had been aimed at a small, political elite but the massive immigration following the Famine meant that there was now, potentially, a large reading public. It was a public which was defined to a great extent by two ideas, nationality and religion-in the parlance of the time, faith and fatherland. These two elements crucially shaped the responses of both the migrants and of the wider English society to each other. Where Irish life in England was organised, it was Catholic and the secular, nationalist journalists of this study, wrote for a community and within a social organisation which was confessional.
They were also operating at this time, against a political background of increasing turbulence-which led as the decade progressed, to rebellion and repression and which saw both the last public execution in Britain and the deaths of civilians on the streets of London.
The central question for the press of the migrants was how to produce and sustain newspapers in a hostile political environment, which were at the same time secular but operated within a system of distribution particularly sensitive to clerical control.