Olga Pyne Clarke (1915-1996) Migration, Immigration and Emigration – Writing Lives

Olga Pyne Clarke (1915-1996) Migration, Immigration and Emigration

Olga Pyne Clarke moved from Ireland to England because of her relationship with her soon- to-be husband Guy. The couple’s relationship was never accepted by Olga’s parents because, to them, Guy was a ‘womaniser’ (p.148). It was this strained on the relationship that incentivised Olga to move countries: as a minor, she still required her parents’ permission to marry. Sarah Wynford, a friend of the couple, got them a place to live in Cirencester that included ‘beautifully build stables, groom’s flat and two acres of paddocks’ (p.148). In England, Olga felt that a new beginning was possible in the way that people perceive her. As Olga explains, she could not marry Guy in a church because he was divorced; however, as she then realises: ‘If Guy puts a wedding ring on my third finger, who in the UK is going to ask to see our marriage line?’. When Olga Emigrated to England, she felt freed from the constrains of the Cork community.

         Olga’s emigration to England had finical and social benefits too, her duel citizenship made it easy for her to ‘nip over to Ireland to collect a few horses’ (p.150) that she would use for her work. The network of friends Olga created through running stables helped her with business and socialising. Gloucester Cathedral, for example, was a place that Olga participated in festivities and met local members of the community. At the Ascot races, Olga made connections with auctioneers in London, investing in horses through commissions. England, it seems, accepted Olga and Guy with open arms and became a place of opportunity for work.

      The rich industrialists of Gloucester were culturally different to the old gentry in Ireland. Olga explains that ‘When they invited you to dinner, invariably there would be a catch’ (p.187). Olga was surprised by the lack of morals of these English industrialists who, at house parties, would partake in cocaine and promiscuity. Class in England was evolving quickly in pre-World War Britain, the lives of the rich industrialists were vastly different to the rural farm-life that Olga was used to.

      As war approached, Olga moved to London for Guy’s deployment. Olga mentions, in the account of her early life, that she was never bored in Ireland. In London and Bath, she was often struck with feelings of ‘ennui’ (p.205). She moved back to Ireland when Guy was deployed abroad, it seems that Olga felt some feelings of home-sickness when she was in London. As Angela McCarthy explains, for Irish immigrants, emigration was ‘as much as an emotional journey as a physical one’ and that most of these Irish immigrants experienced ‘homesickness at some point’ (p.216). Without Guy and with the stress of War, Olga unsurprisingly returned to Ireland. Her unique ability to have homes and friends in both countries allowed her to travel between the two places easily. Despite the things that had happened to Olga, she still considered Ireland to be home.  


McCarthy, A. (2015). Ireland in the World: Comparative, Transnational, and Personal Perspectives, Routledge, New York

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