Is Cardiff ‘as much Irish as it is Welsh’?

The Story of Cardiff by Nick Shepley

A history book claims that while Cardiff may be the capital of Wales, it is actually just as much Irish as it is Welsh.

The book, The Story of Cardiff, was written by history lecturer Nick Shepley.

As the title suggests, it takes in the history of the city from the early days. However, it does pay particularly close attention to Cardiff’s development throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the early 1800s, Cardiff was a small fishing hamlet. When the Industrial Revolution gathered pace, Irish emigrants headed to Cardiff in their tens of thousands and helped to turn it into a major coal metropolis.

Shepley said: “Cardiff was a small hamlet then the Industrial Revolution happened and railways connected Methyr to Cardiff. Some 50,000 Irish came to live in Grangetown and Canton. Cardiff is as Irish as much as it is Welsh.”

The books investigates how important Cardiff was to the rest of the UK during this period and also puts some great Cardiff residents into profile.

Shepley said: “Cardiff consistently punched above its weight in history. With the second largest suffrage society, it has had a huge engagement in politics.

“Britain would arguably have been in a much weaker position if the docks hadn’t been placed in Cardiff.

“The country could have potentially faced starvation, which made Cardiff the main artery for the rest of the country.”

Shepley believes boxer Jim Driscoll was a great symbol for the city. He was born in Cardiff to Irish parents and grew up in an area known at the time as ‘Little Ireland’.

He used boxing to fight his way out of poverty and became a British featherweight champion in 1906.

Shepley said: “He was emblematic of Cardiff, a real fighter, real tough guy and a part of the community.

“He was the salt of the earth and never gave up, which is what Cardiff is about.”

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