CARDIFF is as Irish as it is Welsh, the author of a new book on the history of the Welsh capital has claimed.
Nick Shepley’s book The Story of Cardiff examines the city’s history and in particular probes its development in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
The history lecturer and teacher said that it was Irish workers who helped turn Cardiff from a small fishing hamlet at the turn of the 19th Century into the coal metropolis.
As a result, he argues, it is these Irish workers who could claim much of the responsibility for making it the city it is today.
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.”
He also writes that the difficulties faced by these Irish immigrants - and their resilience – helped shape the foundations on which Cardiff was built.
Legendary boxer Jim Driscoll (pictured above), known as Peerless Jim, is named as the man Shepley would put forward as Cardiff’s patron saint.
Driscoll, the Cardiff-born son of two Irish Catholics, grew up in the city’s now disappeared Newtown area – also known as ‘Little Ireland’ – and became famous for fighting his way out of the poverty he grew up in to become British featherweight champion.
Shepley said of Driscoll: “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.”