The Irish came in massive waves; shipload after shipload
poured onto American docks, and there was nothing anyone
could do to stop them. They came physically with close to
nothing, being too poor to carry much with them on the
passage. Ships were packed to the brim with immigrants to
make sure the trip was a profitable one. They did not ride in
comfort and there was no room for luggage or excess
belongings. Most were starving, sick and close to death, and
their conditions only worsened in the long weeks of travel at
sea cramped in the tight quarters.
Once they got to America, their conditions didn’t improve.
They were treated like a disease and pest; being kicked out of
restaurants and told they couldn’t buy houses in certain
neighborhoods. But Irish spirit could not be broken, and they
maintained their cheery, good natured reputation. Irish were
often clustered together in trashy neighborhoods, tending to
stick to their own people where they were welcomed, so the red
hair, freckles, and accents lived on for generations.
“Being a woman is like being Irish. Everyone says you're important and
nice, but you take second place all the same.”
“The Irish ignore anything they can't drink or punch.”
Suddenly, in the mid-1840s, Irish immigration changed
drastically. The potato blight which destroyed the staple of the
Irish diet produced a monstrous famine that killed thousands
and forced migration upon many thousands more. The number
of peasants that were driven from their cottages and forced to
immigrate, mostly to North America were enormous. Unlike the
earlier migration, these people had no skills, no previous
experience in adapting to a new country. They also had no
money, few clothes, and no education.
Despite a fierce loyalty to the Catholic Church, most had
had little formal religious training. In Ireland, Catholicism had
only been legalized a few years earlier. Conditions for many
Irish immigrants that moved to U.S. cities in the 1840s and
1850s were not much better than those they had left behind in
Ireland. They often crammed into shacks that had been pieced
together out of discarded boards and other debris. Sanitation
was haphazard at best. There were no streets but only paths
which turned into ditches after a heavy rain.
So, what did the
Irish do for
America? I mean,
Patrick’s Day and
Presidents with Irish Heritage or
Ulysses S. Chester Arthur
George H. Bush
George W. Bush Bill Clinton
People with Irish heritage
running our country since
the beginning of America.
But how has Irish
immigration affected the
less political part of our
Such as… music
Anne Hathaway Mandy Moore
Ok, there’s Irish
people in office, acting
and making music.
Now, are they really
as superstitious as the
stereotype says they
It was bad luck to put shoes on a table or chair, place a bed
facing the door, bring lilac into the house, cut your fingernails on
Sunday, give a knife as a gift, or wear green - except for a bit of
Shamrock or ribbon on St. Patrick's Day. Many people today still
throw spilled salt over their shoulder or worry about seven years
bad luck if you break a mirror. It was said that you can tame a
young wild horse by whispering the Creed into his left ear on
Wednesday and into his right ear on Friday. The procedure was
repeated until the animal was calmed.
If a bird flew into the house, it was a portent of death. A purse
made from a weasel would never be empty. It was unlucky to knit
at night until you were certain the sheep were asleep. It was
fortunate to hear a cuckoo call but only if it was on your right side.
If a child was born before noon, he or she would not be able to see
spirits or the good people, but if born at night, the child would
have the gift. By the way, it's considered very risky to refer to the
good people as fairies, wee folk or little people.
The Irish have helped develop the American
culture and way of life for decades.
Irish influence is evident in numerous
aspects of life; from the leaders of our
country to the art of music, dance, and
All that is left to say….
May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warmly upon your face
May the rains fall softly on your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand
-An Irish Blessing-
- Irish Immigrants in America by Elizabeth Raum
- Journey of Hope by Kerby Miller
- Green Sprigs of Emerald Isle by Neil Hogan
This has been an Abolitionist Fair