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There is a growing body of evidence that points to the poor health of the Irish in the UK. Based upon two focus groups, a total of 15 in-depth interviews and a self-completion survey of Irish people in a medium-sized town in Yorkshire, this paper uses a socio-ecological framework to explore the effect of social and cultural factors on Irish people’s health. First, the article argues that the explanatory theory of resilience is central to Irish people’s attitudes towards health. Resilience is manifested in the related concept of reliance (on the self and on others),which informs health-seeking behaviours and health serviceuse strategies at both an individual and a community level. Secondly, the social context is a crucial yet hitherto nderdeveloped component of Irish people’s conceptions of health and health-seeking behaviours. Thirdly, the construction of well-being is also firmly rooted in a social conception of healthy living which has yet to be adequately recognised byhealth researchers and health policy makers.