Main pool 1920s


Little Donegal

This book traces the influence of Irish migrants to the southside of Glasgow, especially from the North West of Ireland, and how their lives affected the area they settled in. Irish people have been part of the history of Scotland since the Dál Riada tribe (the original ‘Scoti’) settled the West coast from 400AD onwards. They were there as places like Glasgow began to grow in the 17th and 18th centuries. And they were a part of all the stages of development of cities like Glasgow and the towns and villages surrounding it, including Govanhill.

Migration follows patterns, family members, relatives and neighbours follow established paths and often settle close to familiar faces in the place they arrive. In this way, Govanhill and the Gorbals came to be known as Little Donegal, with a high concentration of people from the west of Donegal, many of them gaeilge speakers, with a vibrant community life and a regular connection back to their home place. The author has used the history of his own ancestors, who arrived in the Gorbals from Gweedore at the end of the 19th century, eventually moving back and becoming an integral part of the regular migrant route via the Scotch Boat which travelled between Derry and Glasgow three times a week. It outlines the different periods of migration and their backdrop in Ireland and aims to challenge some of the myths that still exist about the Irish in Scotland, many of which are repeated about more recent immigrants. Rather than a definitive history, the aim is to stimulate others to do the same with their own family histories and capture some of the richness of Irish life in the southside.

About the History Group Project

We were delighted to be work on the Little Donegal project for Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022. At the Govanhill International Festival & Carnival in August 2022, Colm Bryce gave a presentation about his forthcoming publication, Little Donegal – The Irish in Govanhill & the Gorbals. At the same time, we launched our Irish History Group, which met at The Deep End to collect stories and images from people about their family’s connection to Ireland, mainly Donegal, and Glasgow (primarily  Govanhill, Gorbals, and Southside). From these meetings the group created podcasts below.


20th October 2022: Irish History Group – 6-8pm, The Deep End, 21 Nithsdale St, Glasgow, G41 2PZ

3rd November 2022: Irish History Group – 6-8pm ,The Deep End, 21 Nithsdale St, Glasgow, G41 2PZ

17th November 2022: Irish History Group – 6-8pm ,The Deep End, 21 Nithsdale St, Glasgow, G41 2PZ

24th November 2022: Irish History Group podcasts – 6-8pm, online & digital

7th December 2022: Launch of Little Donegal book & Irish Trail – 6-7:30pm, Dixon Halls, 656 Cathcart Rd, Glasgow, G42 8AA

10th December 2022: Irish Trail – 12noon – 2pm, walking trail across various venues

Govanhill Baths Irish History Group Podcasts

Donegal Hill, Queen’s Park and The Old Chapel, Derrybeg By Moira McIver

Old Wolf Old Woman By Rae McKinlay

Glasgow / Donegal Memories By Owen Curran

Glasgow / Donegal Memories By Marth McCulloch and Dorothy O’Connor

Some Stories of the History of the Irish in Govanhill By Bruce Downie

The Bridge of Tears By Rae McKinlay

Bloody Foreland by Pat Heraghty

Glasgow-Donegal: The Boat That Connects Us By Roisin Crossan