Cornwall was not a major destination for people leaving Ireland in the wake of the Great Famine and the traumatic 1840s. In 1861 there were 1,475 people born in Ireland and living in Cornwall (or just 0.4 per cent of the population). Moreover, several of these were Irish-born military personnel. Most of the other Irish immigrants clustered in the towns or the mining districts of the west, although there was a sufficient number of people of Irish descent at Camborne, many of them living in the village of Brea, to trigger a serious anti-Irish riot in 1882.
Other Irish folk were scattered more anonymously across Cornwall. In 1861 James Driscoll, his wife Ellen and two children had recently arrived at Liskeard parish (the rural part of Liskeard as opposed to the borough.) Their nine month old son James was recorded as having been born in Herefordshire.
James senior, from Cork as was his wife, worked as a farm labourer and by 1861 the family were settled at Hendra Bridge in Liskeard parish. James junior’s birth in Herefordshire was forgotten and his birthplace became Liskeard in this and the following censuses. In the 1860s they must have realised there were better prospects in the copper mines north of Liskeard and the family decamped to the village of Darite (at first known as Railway Terrace) in St Cleer, where both James and James’ brother worked as mine labourers, probably meaning surface workers rather than underground.
The 1870s saw the copper mines around Caradon begin to struggle and the Driscolls were off again, this time to Durham to work in the booming Durham coalfield at Crook and Billy Row. What happened to James Driscoll after 1881 is unknown. Did he continue to work as a coal miner? Did he join the many thousands of his fellow Irish (and Cornish) and emigrate to the USA? Or had he died after a few years hewing coal?