Useful Notes / The New Irish

'The New Irish' is the current term for recent immigrants into Ireland (replacing the confusing and possibly offensive 'Non-Irish Nationals'). It generally does not cover longstanding native minorities like Irish Travellers or the small but distinctive Irish Jewish community.

Up until very recently Ireland was primarily a nation of emigration, a country you left rather than came to (an exception being made for the sizable Ulster Scot population in the North). This led to a certain homogeny: the Irish population was almost entirely white and almost entirely Christian, and the Christians were almost entirely Catholic. Ethnic minorities were mostly students or involved in the restaurant trade and rarely showed up on Irish TV or in Irish films.

This has begun to change since The '90s. Increased prosperity brought a new wave of immigrants that have begun settling into the country. Irish media is (slowly) recognising this change and has begun featuring New Irish characters.


  • The Girl from Once is a Czech immigrant.
  • The protagonist of The Front Line is a Congolese immigrant, who works as a security guard at a bank and is forced to participate in a Tiger raid.
  • Gabriella from The Guard is a Croatian immigrant who married Aidan in a marriage of convenience.

Live-Action TV
  • Fair City has featured Russian and Nigerian characters.
  • Raw actually has a majority of the cast consisting of immigrants, which is not implausible considering it is set in a restaurant.
  • In a strangely prophetic joke, a 1998 episode of Father Ted involved a large Chinatown existing on Craggy Island. As it happened Chinese immigrants have since become the largest visibly foreign minority and there has been serious talk of establishing an official Chinatown in Dublin. Most are students who never left after visas ran out: the census gave 11,000 Chinese but the figure could be nine times this.
    • And another in the final episode of the first series. A nun tells a black priest that she thinks how wonderful the work being done in Africa is. The priest replies, "Sure I wouldn't know. I'm from Donegal" in a thick Donegal accent - and he's played by Kevin Sharkey, who is indeed from Donegal.
  • The English Class is a sitcom about immigrants learning English under a particularly dreadful David Brent like Irish teacher.
  • Love/Hate has Nidge hire an Eastern European Giant Mook as his bodyguard for a time until said Giant Mook nearly loses a leg to a machete attack. A number of prostitutes in the series come from a variety of countries as well, including one who overdoses along with Debbie.
  • Red Rock has Adrijan Kosos, a garda who hails from Croatia and retains his accent.
  • The Young Offenders features Linda Walsh, who is of African descent and is implied to be adopted, since the rest of her family is white.
  • Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, of Irish and Afro-South American parentage, is regarded as the first "New Irish" artist to break through to the mainstream.
  • Samantha Mumba was a successful singer in the early 2000s. Though Irish, her father is Zambian, and as such she is mixed-race. Though she only recorded one album, she had moderately more success in the US than her contemporaries, and later moved there.