Griffintown: Identity and Memory in an Irish Diaspora Neighbourhood

January 15, 2018|
Griffintown: Identity and Memory in an Irish Diaspora Neighbourhood by Matthew Barlow
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This vibrant biography of Griffintown, an inner-city Irish Catholic neighbourhood in Montreal, brings to life the history of Irish identity in the legendary enclave. Once a destination for many from the Emerald Isle, Montreal saw Irish immigration dwindle in the late nineteenth century. Irish culture in the city became diasporic: images and ideas of Ireland reflected an imagined homeland, a vision passed down through generations and filtered through the long Irish experience in Montreal.

Focusing on the power of memory to shape community, Matthew Barlow examines how current and former residents have responded over time to the claims of city officials and developers. How has Griffintown dealt with a declining population, repeated and controversial attempts at urban renewal, and increasing uncertainty about Quebec’s political future?

If, by the 1970s, Griffintown was derelict and all but abandoned, beginning in the late 1990s, the neighbourhood underwent a symbolic rebirth. As Barlow demonstrates, the spirit of this ethnic quarter was nurtured not by the leaders of Irish Montreal but by the former working-class men and women who grew up there. Today, as the neighbourhood attracts renewed interest from developers, this textured analysis offers a glimpse into how public memory defines our urban centres.

Matthew Barlow has also worked on a series of short films that recount the fascinating social history of Griffintown. Watch them at

Matthew Barlow is a native Montrealer and public historian who lives and teaches in Western Massachusetts. His research centres around history, memory, deindustrialization, and trauma. Aside from the printed word, he has worked on several documentaries examining the history of Griffintown, hockey, and Montreal in general.
Title:Griffintown: Identity and Memory in an Irish Diaspora Neighbourhood
Product dimensions:264 pages, 9 X 6 X 0.8 in
Shipping dimensions:264 pages, 9 X 6 X 0.8 in
Published:January 15, 2018
Publisher:Ubc Press
Appropriate for ages:All ages
ISBN - 13:9780774834346

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