Why didn't many Irish people settle in Algeria?

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,051
#11
A 1929 article about Irish people moving to Algeria caught my eye:

Irish emigration to Algeria

"Most Irishmen are familiar with Davis' thrilling poem The Sack of Baltimore, which tells the story of the swoop made by the Algerian corsairs in the seventeenth century on the village of Baltimore in the south-west of Cork county.

On that occasion the pirates took nearly 300 prisoners, who were subsequently sold as slaves in Algiers. It is, however, a curious, but little known, fact that there should have been in the nineteenth century voluntary emigration by Irishmen to the land of the Algerians.

Marshal MacMahon, desirous of diverting some portion of the stream of emigration from the country of his forefathers to the rich and fertile fields of Algeria, despatched a confidential agent to Ireland in 1869, with the result that about 150 Irishmen of the farming class set sail for Algeria in the October of that year. The experiment, however, proved a failure owing to lack of capital and the inroads caused by fevers, and in a few years the Irish colony vanished from this historic part of Northern Africa.

The Irish Times, December 27th, 1929."

The contents of this article made me wonder--why exactly was there a lack of capital invested in Irish settlement in Algeria in the 19th and early 20th centuries? Indeed, why exactly were large numbers of southern Europeans able to move to Algeria without any problem and stay there until Algerian independence in 1962 while the Irish never managed to create large, permanent settlements in Algeria of their own?

Was it because Algeria's climate and culture was too different for the Irish to integrate into? Or was there another reason for this?
The Irish did not settled in Algeria for the same reason Germans, Russians, Poles, English, Swedes, etc., didn't settle in Algeria. Did any Europeans but the French settle in Algeria?

1. Algeria was ruled by the French, which was a rival power to the Britain, which Ireland was part of. For much of the 19th century, Britain was a rival power, and would France welcome a lot of citizens from the heir number one rival?

2. Most Irish did not speak French or Arabic

3. The climate i Algeria is nothing like Ireland.

4. Urban population was much smaller in Algeria, and there was no.industrial revolution there. No demand for low skill workers to work in the industries there. Since the climate was different, requiring different unfamiliar crops to be grown, and no industries needing their labor, what were the Irish to do for a living?

5. Why didn't other Europeans settle in Algeria? Millions of Europeans from Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe settled in and he US, and the question why didn't they settled in Algeria is no different from the Irish
 
Nov 2010
7,266
Cornwall
#12
For what it's worth, Algeria actually did have an organized resistance movement in the 19th century led by this guy:

Emir Abdelkader - Wikipedia

?
Yes but his profile is just what I was saying: (Wiki)

"he built up a collection of Algerian tribesmen that for many years successfully held out against one of the most advanced armies in Europe."

even though he seems to have been a visionary
 
Likes: Futurist

Isleifson

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,599
Lorraine tudesque
#13
Yep--though weren't most Europeans in Algeria Italians, Spaniards, and Maltese?
Correct. The main difference might be that the Alsatian, Lorrainers offen did came back: From my family some people went to Algeria around 1845 and came back 15 years later. With the money they could make there they bought a castle.
 
Likes: Futurist
May 2017
111
Monterrey
#14
The Irish did not settled in Algeria for the same reason Germans, Russians, Poles, English, Swedes, etc., didn't settle in Algeria. Did any Europeans but the French settle in Algeria?

1. Algeria was ruled by the French, which was a rival power to the Britain, which Ireland was part of. For much of the 19th century, Britain was a rival power, and would France welcome a lot of citizens from the heir number one rival?

2. Most Irish did not speak French or Arabic

3. The climate i Algeria is nothing like Ireland.

4. Urban population was much smaller in Algeria, and there was no.industrial revolution there. No demand for low skill workers to work in the industries there. Since the climate was different, requiring different unfamiliar crops to be grown, and no industries needing their labor, what were the Irish to do for a living?

5. Why didn't other Europeans settle in Algeria? Millions of Europeans from Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe settled in and he US, and the question why didn't they settled in Algeria is no different from the Irish
I think you might want to re-visit your knowledge of the Irish and the British Empire, they were not exactly best of buddies. The Irish Brigade was quite a famous unit serving under the French. I don't think the language made much of a difference either; it wasn't the 21st century. As such, most people tended to be farmers/labourers. This is why USA was such a popular destination; land of opportunities. I know that the Irish emigrated to Mexico for example(and in fact, every country between Canada and Argentina), which seems to be on the same latitude so I doubt climate makes any difference either.

The real reason? There were plenty of better opportunities.
 
Likes: Futurist
Nov 2010
7,266
Cornwall
#15
I think you might want to re-visit your knowledge of the Irish and the British Empire, they were not exactly best of buddies. The Irish Brigade was quite a famous unit serving under the French. I don't think the language made much of a difference either; it wasn't the 21st century. As such, most people tended to be farmers/labourers. This is why USA was such a popular destination; land of opportunities. I know that the Irish emigrated to Mexico for example(and in fact, every country between Canada and Argentina), which seems to be on the same latitude so I doubt climate makes any difference either.

The real reason? There were plenty of better opportunities.
Not sure popularity comes into it too much. About a third of the 19th century British Army was Irish if I recall. For obvious reasons.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,833
SoCal
#16
Correct. The main difference might be that the Alsatian, Lorrainers offen did came back: From my family some people went to Algeria around 1845 and came back 15 years later. With the money they could make there they bought a castle.
They bought a castle in Algeria?
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,525
Australia
#17
I think the answer has been covered above. Given the choice between the USA ( and almost anywhere else) and Algeria I doubt there was much soul searching over where to go.
 
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Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
13,637
Navan, Ireland
#19
I think you might want to re-visit your knowledge of the Irish and the British Empire, they were not exactly best of buddies. The Irish Brigade was quite a famous unit serving under the French.......................................
The Irish helped build the Empire and the number of Irish serving in the 'Irish Brigade' varied greatly but was in any case dwarfed by those serving in the British army.