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How The Irish Became American

For St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll look at the “Irish way” of American immigration.

Danielle McElduff, 19, right, smiles as she and her sisters Lauren McElduff, 15, left, and Aidan McElduff, 16, wait for the start of the St. Patrick's Day Parade Thursday, March 17, 2011 on Fifth Avenue in New York. The sisters are from Cornwall, New York. (AP)

Danielle McElduff, 19, right, smiles as she and her sisters Lauren McElduff, 15, left, and Aidan McElduff, 16, wait for the start of the St. Patrick's Day Parade Thursday, March 17, 2011 on Fifth Avenue in New York. The sisters are from Cornwall, New York. (AP)

When the Irish came to America, it was big for Ireland and big for America.  The Irish fled famine.  By 1900 there were more Irish in United States than in Ireland.  They moved into American cities, and paved the way for the waves of immigrants that followed – Italians, Jews, Poles… the world.

They came by the “Irish way,” says my guest today.  Hyphenated Americans bringing home cultures to a new land.  There’s a reason we still celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

This hour, On Point:  on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, my guest James Barrett describes the Irish way of becoming American.

-Tom Ashbrook



James Barrett, a professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and author of The Irish Way: Becoming American in the Multiethnic City.

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Boston Globe “A fast-paced tour of 150 years of the Irish-American experience, James R. Barrett’s “The Irish Way: Becoming American in the Multiethnic City’’ offers a wide-frame portrait of an immigrant group that helped define what it means to be an American.”

The Washington Post “In “The Irish Way,” his acute and judicious account of the imprint of the Irish experience on American history, James R. Barrett suggests that these Irish were also the creators of an urban identity that became a model for millions of families and multitudes of ethnic groups working through difficult transitions. ”

The Wall Street Journal “His richly detailed, often fascinating study focuses on the second- and third-generation Irish who were shaped more by life in America’s largest cities than by rural life in the old country, and on later Irish immigrants, who arrived between the 1880s and 1920s. At the turn of the century, New York had the most Irish, followed by Philadelphia, Chicago and Boston. Mr. Barrett, who teaches at the University of Illinois, concentrates on New York and Chicago.”

Excerpt: The Irish Way

[Use the navigation bar at the bottom of this frame to reformat the excerpt to best suit your reading experience.]



The Wind that Shakes the Barley” by The Chieftains

“The Hardest Mile” by Dropkick Murphys

“Paddy’s Lamentation” by Mary Black

“Black Friday Rule” by Flogging Molly

“A Nation Once Again” by The Dubliners

“Living in America” by Black 47

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  • Robert Hennecke

    James Barrett is describing the Irish experience in Canada as well as the similarities are striking. The tendency to clannishness and using their connectedness to influence politics and assume that the neighbourhoods they lived in were theirs and an eagerness to underline that point through violence via ‘turf wars’. I lived it first hand in Point Saint Charles, a violent and poor neighbourhood of Montreal, Quebec at the time I lived there.  Robert Hennecke.

  • PasqualeCap


    Since Italian immigrants put up with considerable slurs and
    aggravation from the Irish, who came before them (they gave out more than they
    even put up with themselves from the English),  I’ll offer my non-irish perspective of how the
    Irish became American.


    In one sentence….. they did it by sheer numbers. 


    They’re unbridled clannish tendencies allowed them to take
    over the political system and give themselves government jobs – virtually
    taking over entire police stations, fire departments and particularly government
    administration, where they continue to be most conspicuous. Public utilities
    was also the stereotypical favorite position of the Irish.

    Because of their English speaking advantage, they were often
    given the clipboard while the non-english speakers got the shovels. And their
    worst bullying was typically done as a group against typically one non-english


    But even when they engaged in manual labor, it was measured
    at best.  The Irish like to brag about
    how they built the railroads, but it was said by a senior railroad executive at
    the time, that one Chinese worker did the work of three Irishmen.


    In fact they like to brag a lot.   That’s where they get the “blarney”
    from.  They love to think they won all
    the wars.  The image of Ethyl’s husband
    Fred, shooting down hundreds of evil buck-toothed round-spectacled-wearing Japanese
    enemies, then dying in John Wayne’s arms to the tune of Oh Danny Boy…in the The
    Fighting Sea Bees. It was the Japanese and Italian-Americans that suffered the
    highest casualties as a proportion of their communities.  


    The true fact is they liked the easy battles like shooting
    down native-Americans in their villages from horseback.  The Irish flocked to join the Calvary,  but previously when it came to tough battles
    like the Civil War, they  protested
    violently in New York City not to be drafted
    into the Union to face certain hardship or
    death, and particularly not to fight against Black slavery.   Irish prejudice against blacks was well
    known, particularly in Boston.


    But they still tend to love uniforms of any kind, and the
    Irish still make up much of the cannon fodder that proudly serves in the
    military today.   The fact is that due to
    the lack of any cultural substance, other than green clover decals and patches,
    a few songs and river dance, Irish-Americans 
    are the primary fodder of American consumerism.  And for the most part, they seem to gravitate
    towards, and even embrace, other rich ethnicities of all kinds in their


    The Irish in America
    have become like the white base paint at the hardware store…you mix it with the
    other colors to get the desired blend.


    We all hear the “Irish need not apply” story, but that was
    short lived as the Irish became a privileged class in most large cities through
    their monumental patronage, bribery and cronyism. And their penchant for
    cover-up can best be seen throughout the Catholic Church clergy scandal (most
    predominantly Irish) and the Whitey Bulger case that is curiously closing up
    like a clam in the frigid ocean.


    The Irish were the first recipients of public housing, when
    the new paint was not even dry, and they still occupy the better facilities
    (i.e. Charlestown)
    where Irish occupy the best public townhouses while African-Americans, and
    other minorities occupy the old brick projects.


    With that said,  I
    will state as a European, that the Irish in Ireland
    and those in the US who are
    directly from Ireland,
    are outstanding, thoughtful,cultured and kind people.  Its curious indeed how their predecessors
    differ so greatly.


    Oh yeah…. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

    • gemli

      Can we PLEASE have this list moderated?  Please?

      • Anonymous

        no censorship please

      • Anonymous

        Be careful, he might get his “family” to put out a contract and have you killed.  That’s how the Italians got ahead, wasn’t it?

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Wow–someone has a few resentments. . .

    • Anonymous

      My oh my…I thought we Irish bore never ending grudges.

    • Steve

      and that night…
       “the snow was general all over Ireland”

    • Weblizard

      Haters gotta hate.

    • Ctwood2

      Ouch…need to understand history better, bruh! The WASP power-brokers held sway in American politics, culture and wealth. Keep the ethnic groups at each others’ throats and away from those with the badge and the loot.

      But then I guess it was the Irish Catholics working on the docks in 19th century urban centers who would sneak down south of the Mason Dixon Line and pretend to be English and Scots-Irish Protestants setting up the slave economy.

      I assume it was the Irish, so gifted in language, who gave the Italians the name “moulinyan” (eggplant) to use in referring to blacks. Or the more 21st century coloquial of “moolie”.Unfortunately, too many people fear the unknown or dissimilar.While there are Irish-Americans who espouse prejudice towards other groups, racism wouldn’t be an epidemic in America if it depended solely on the Irish-Americans. All ethnic groups carry their own level of animous.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQT2B4WBUSBIEELZXHDR6WLXFY Brian

      “The true fact is they liked the easy battles like shooting
      down native-Americans in their villages from horseback.  The Irish flocked to join the Calvary,  but previously when it came to tough battles
      like the Civil War, they  protested
      violently in New York City not to be drafted
      into the Union to face certain hardship or
      death, and particularly not to fight against Black slavery.”
      Yes, many rioted in NY, but many more fought in the Union. Many came right off the boat and were shuttled onto another boat directly  down the coast to Army camps.  The sheer numbers of Irish and German immigrants making the bulk of the Unions cannon fodder was often commented deriseively on in Europe, the South, and England in particular

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQT2B4WBUSBIEELZXHDR6WLXFY Brian

      “Your soldier’s heart almost stood still as he watched those sons of Erin fearlessly rush to their death. The brilliant assault on Marye’s Heights of their Irish Brigade was beyond description. Why, my darling, we forgot they were fighting us, and cheer after cheer at their fearlessness went up all along our lines.” – General George Pickett in a letter to his fiancée, after the Battle of Fredericksburg
      Bunch of cowards, eh? 

  • Steve

    Thomas Nast, anti-catholicism, parachoial schools/public education, social welfare provided by faith organizations, Social Darwinism, civil service reform, Planned Parenthood, abortion, voter ID….

    There are quite a few connections through the salad bowl, not melting pot, that can be traced to the US and immigration of the other.

    Look forward to an interesting show.

    • Ctwood2

      Salad bowl I like that…I think in terms of patchwork quilt.  We Americans are certainly not a homogenous mush in a melting pot. 

  • Anonymous

    Oh be gosh and begorah have Little Nellie Kelly call every Irish son and daughter. ‘Tis the day for the wearin’ o’ the green…March seventeen.  May your St. Patrick’s Day be grand, from the top o’ the mornin’ until the sunsets on County Mayo.  As a member in and officer of the Ancient Order of Hibernians it is my pleasure to bestow upon you and your clans the love, laughter, loyalty and luck of the Irish this St. Patrick’s Day and always.
    A South Boston Irishman now in Fort Mill,SC.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Many of my ancestors are Celtic–Scottish, Irish, it’s hard to know.  They came to the Appalachians to live their lives away from interference of outsiders.  That stubborn oppositional nature is a good thing for our country.

    • Anonymous

      The Scotch-Irish and the Irish are not the same, although related one could say. The Scotch-Irish are Scots who were sent to Ireland when William of Orange invaded Ireland and defeated King James at the Battle of the Boyne. Hence the beginning of the Irish troubles. Andrew Jackson was Scotch-Irish.

      The Irish of the potato famine era were also

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Just so, but I’ve got some of both.

        • Anonymous

          Oh you mean you have Scottish and Irish ancestors. Sorry, I thought you meant Scots-Irish.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            I already knew the difference.  My point was that it’s not clear what everyone was, since record keeping wasn’t such a big concern.

          • Tina

            If you are interested, your ancestors may not have KEPT records, but they LEFT records, in all likelihood.  If you’re interested, you’ll be surprised at what you can find AND confirm about your ancestors!

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQT2B4WBUSBIEELZXHDR6WLXFY Brian

        ‘If I’m not mistaken Saint Patrick’s Day is not a big deal in Ireland.’
        You are very much mistaken.  It is a HUGE celebration. 

    • Tina

      You might want to watch the PBS series, Appalachia (which is NOT the same as the series called “The Appalachians”).  Those individuals you are referring to had a lot of political power thru Andrew Jackson, and together they just about destroyed the Native American tribal peoples of the Appalachians.  This series, part history, part nature lesson, part joyous shout, part lamentation, tells of the scores, if not hundreds, of battles that the Celtic-and-yankee Americans engaged in against the indigenous peoples.  Well, many Native Americans were not indigenous to the Appalachians, but had been pushed there and/or promised land there when their tribes were kicked out of areas closer to the coast.  Anyway, the stubborn oppositional nature you are so pleased with was extremely toxic to both the indigenous peoples and to much of the native flora and fauna of the region.  Besides battles, there were also broken treaties and promises.  

      On another matter:  that “hard to know” part.  Along the East Coast, and at some times more than in others, it is religion (Catholic versus Protestant) that would have kept your ancestors separate from one another.  Farther west (i.e., the Appalachians were “west” for quite some time), religious differences did not always have such a sway over people’s behavior.  Find the religious affiliations of your ancestors, and you may be able to parse out who was who, etc., and who took the “pivotal” step of stepping outside of their religion.    

    • Ctwood2

      The so-called Scot-Irish are only Irish because they were transplanted to the English plantations in northern Ireland. At the same time that famous smoker Sir Walter Raleigh was establishing his lands in Virginia, he also was granted a patent for lands in Ulster County, Ireland. Since the incorrigible Irish Catholics were forced from their farmlands, he brought in Scottish Protestants as laborers.

      Scots-Irish have as much in common with the with the native Irish as do they do with the Welsh in the English isles, or those Britons from northern France. A millennium before they were all Celts, but subsequently they all became dominated by English policies and the divisiveness of religion.

  • Inda Roddy

    I’m a third generation Irish-American who has been living in Co Mayo (with my Irish Husband) for the last eleven years.  I never realised how not Irish I was until I moved here.  I am definitely All American.  I have moved here but my Great Grandfather an Irish immigrant from Co Galway said he would never go back to Ireland.

  • http://www.fibrowitch.net Jan Dumas

    The reason the Irish did not return to Ireland had nothing to do with the famine, and everything to do with the English property owners.   For many people they watched the “property owners” knock down their villages, dump them into open wagons with little more than the cloths on their back and dumped into “plague ships”  Many Irish only spoke Galic, did not know how to read or write and had spent many years as the English slave class.   The Irish were mistreated here but it was still better than living there.

    Has no one here read Working toward Whiteness, or the Wages of White, or for that matter looked at this – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_diaspora 

    Honestly don’t try to pretty up the Irish experience. Saint Patrick was an English man who lead an army into Ireland and destroyed the country and people.  St Patrick’s day is not a celebration, it’s  Stockholm Syndrome writ large!

    • Ctwood2

      Absolutely!  Nothing to go home to except the graves of family and friends.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQT2B4WBUSBIEELZXHDR6WLXFY Brian

      What in god’s name are you talking about?  St patrick did not lead any army into Ireland and did nothing to destroy the country.   He was the son of a Roman noble from Britain who was kidnapped by Irish pirates and was a slave working as a shepherd.  After a decade, he eventually escaped, and went about converting Irish up and down the Ireland. 

  • patty

    I think that what we Irish-Americans considered “Irishness” is really just an Irish moment frozen in time, i.e. an early 20th century kind of Irishness that our ancestors brought with them here. Current Irish immigrants I have known do not recognize, often chuckle, at Americans notion of Irishness, just as Americans who visit Ireland often encounter a culture that seems quite different from what they expect mainly because Irish culture itself has continued to evolve, but Irish-American culture has remained static referencing back to their grandparents notion and experiences of Irishness a century ago

    • Ctwood2

      Agree…some of my Irish cousins are more “European” than the American perspective of being “Irish”

      If one is intderdested in ‘real’ Ireland listen to REI (Ireland’s NPR) and listen to the pulse of real Irish life.

  • Longfellow’s Evangeline

    I have book  “The House of York” by M.A.T.  Catholic School Book Co, New York.  , so Mary Agnes Tinkler,  inscribed to individual “For Honorable Mention, 3rd Year Latin, ’99.  First Time I knew the intricacies of discrimination in America.   Got the book out of grandfather’s things.  Any knowledge on speakers part about this book?

  • Ar375

    Really? Do we have to talk about discrimination against the Irish every St. Patty’s Day? I’m of Irish descent and proud of it, but even for me this seems to verge on the point of absurdity, considering the discrimination that currently still exists in this country and largely goes ignored. While I believe that the Irish did work hard to overcome stereotypes, the fact of the matter is that they (along with the Germans, Polish, etc) were ultimately afforded privileges by virtue of being White that have never been offered to people of color. Celebrating this as anything other than preference based on skin color is factually incorrect. 

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      No, things are more complicated that the standard model of black = victim, white = privileged.

      • Ar375

        No,they’re really not. Consider the Civil War. African American fighters from the North (or their widows) were not compensated as highly as Whites. Consider the GI Bill. Returning African American soldiers were not offered scholarships for education nor loans to buy homes in all the nice, new suburbs (or why else do you think the suburbs are majority white?). Consider redlining and urban renewal which disadvantaged people of color and prevented them from being able to accumulate wealth. Consider education funding, which even today within Boston provides more money to schools that are primarily white. There are thousands and thousands of examples throughout the history of this nation that provide evidence of white privilege.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

           Such a simplistic view of things.  Being born white isn’t a guarantee of success, nor does being white mean that life will be easy.

          • Ar375

            How is this simplistic? These are historical facts. I’m not at all suggesting that being white means that life will be easy. I’m white and do not think that I have a ticket to a free ride in life. HOWEVER, unlike you, I can recognize that I do have more opportunities to achieve success than the average person of color – both historically and in the present day. 

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            You’re being told about the difficulties that other groups have experienced throughout our history, and yet, you still cling to the simplistic narrative that everything is defined by black or white.

          • Ar375

            I’m being told? As if I’m being manipulated? Or am I really just educating myself, unlike many of my contemporaries? Are you aware of the demographic makeup of wealth and poverty in this country? There are reasons why a racial divide exists. 

    • Ctwood2

      What initially started in the late 1800s as a chance for disenfranchised immigrants to have solidarity in an atmosphere of hatred, turned into a marketers dream in the 1970s and now no longer holds any connection to its roots.

      St. PADDY’s Day (‘d’ not ‘t’) is just an American excuse to get druck…like we need any excuse. The Irish are somewhat perplexed by the whole international St. Paddy’s Day phenom.

  • Tina

    Please ask your guests:  WHY DID THE IRISH SO OFTEN ARRIVE IN THE U.S. AND THEN START BEATING UP PEOPLE IN THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN NEIGHBORHOODS?  It is documented by scholars and then-contemporary writers that this happened.  I know that it happened within Philadelphia where my family went after leaving Virginia as a family formerly designated as  both free people of color and as enslaved Blacks.  WAS THERE SOMETHING BACK IN IRELAND THAT CAUSED THIS DEEP- SEATED HATRED THAT AT LEAST A LARGE ENOUGH NUMBER OF IRISH HELD TO THE POINT THAT THERE WERE MAJOR RIOTS?


    Also:  Do I think of the Irish-Americans as the classic model?  No.  I’m also part Native American, and, as I said, African American.  Those two groups serve as their OWN models!

    • Steve

      I think there is a history of the Irish and African slaves coming to the New World -often being forced to breed for their masters. 

    • Tina

      How amazing, you just started addressing my question (almost) just as I hit the  “post as” button!  The difference is this:  THE IRISH WERE STILL DOING THIS BEATING UP OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS EVEN AFTER THE CIVIL WAR, AT LEAST IN PHILADELPHIA.  The Irish would roam into Black neighborhoods (long known as probably the best place to be African-American in the East Coast)  Unprovoked, and just start beating up Blacks.  The of abolition alone did not explain it.   

      • Tina

        Thank you for taking the discussion farther, into the post-Civil War era.  Thank you.

    • T D

      There may have been horrible riots and there may have been some animosity in the U.S., but I don’t see it as necessarily deep-seated hatred. I would say that this racism began as it usually does. The Irish started out as the cheap labor, the “other”, worked their way up, assimilated, and when African-Americans came in, they were seen as competition, they were the “new” “other”. When one group is oppressed in one way or another, they tend to look toward some other group to focus their frustration and hatred, even though it is most often misdirected, and someone who looks “different” is easiest to distinguish yourself from.

      You could even move this to present day where one could almost replace racism with homophobia, which is quite pronounced within the African-American community. (not that it doesn’t exist within a significant portion of the general population, too)

    • Ctwood2

      While not condoning such actions, realize that there was a reason for the animosity…the Irish were pitted against former slaves as the bottom of the social ladder. If an employer could hire a black for 5 cents a day, an Irishman would work for 4 cents to get the job.

      Unfortunately, subsequent generations of Irish-Americans were elevated up the ladder simply be being white by the Protestant power-structure that fostered the hatred among ethnic groups. The same endemic American prejudice held by Irish-Americans, were taken up by the children of incoming Italian and eastern immigrants.

      As young black activist, H. Rap Brown, said in the 1960s…”Racism is as America as cherry pie.”  

  • Steve

    Ask the guest about the early Bitish slave trade that included the Irish

    • Ctwood2

      …being shipped to the sugarcane fields of Jamaica and other Caribbean islands. That little known diaspora most likely took the lives of 80-90% of those shipped out.

      Not much of a choice, starvation at home as a result of the English policies, i.e. Corn Laws, or being considered a criminal for being poor and then shipped out to die in the New World of exposure and overwork.

  • http://www.fibrowitch.net Jan Dumas

    The phone lines are to busy to get in, but I can’t believe we could go the entire interview without acknowledging more Irish immigrated after the famine ended than during the famine. Some mention has to be made of the Corn laws, and the Encumbered Estates Act being of 1849

    Please don’t wear green colored glassed when talking about the Irish diaspora. 

    • Ctwood2

      Agreed…the disgusting caricature that non-Irish (and sadly those with Irish blood) embrace about the brogue-wearing Paddy, with the sly words and drunken perspective are now embedded in the American consciousness.

      I was born in the U.S. but learned Irish history from a grandmother and great-aunt sent to the US because of the poverty and political upheavals of the early 20th century.

      We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in church, not in the bars. Albeit…there was food, drink and music at home.

  • Janerutl

    I believe that the United States is still very racist.  We mistreated the Native Americans, the Chinese when they helped with the building of the railroad, etc.  I am proud that they want to come here but am ashamed about how we treat them when they arrive.  Racism is still alive as we witness every day with our own President.

  • Gary Gebhardt

    Very interesting show.  But the Irish perspective seems to be a Northern experience.  Savannah, GA had the second largest influx.  Still displays a heavy influence and one local historian writes that the Irish immigrants inter-racially married in order to move up in status.  Any comments from your historian.

  • Lyssa Papazian

    I wonder if your guest has heard of an unusual case of the Irish community of West Rutland, VT. In 1860 as part of the district school system, the large Irish population got the town of Rutland to create a district (public) school with an Irish Catholic teacher. This lasted until district system was abolished in 1890s. It was done with support of the protestant church leaders. In 1885 West Rutland became its own town with an Irish majority population which declared St Patrick’s day a municipal holiday.

  • Molly

    When my Irish Catholic mother married my English Protestant father in the early 1940′s, his wealthy parents sprung a pre-nup on my mother the morning of the wedding. They didn’t want her getting money in a divorce from the rich Protestants but the added insult was that her Irish father, a self-made man, had plenty of his own money but that fact didn’t seem to matter!

    • Ctwood2

      Unfortunately, such feelings went both ways. My Irish born grandmother told stories about the famine, Irish young men’s forced induction into the English military in lieu of trumped up criminal charges, the Easter Uprising, etc.

      I haven’t experienced a more vehement hatred towards a people than her’s towards the English.  I couldn’t even watch James Bond on TV ‘cuz Roger Moore’s accent.   

      That said, her attitude is somewhat understandable from her Irish Catholic perspective considering the English political policies towards Ireland from the first invasion by English-allied Normans and up to the 1920s.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     Interesting–the theme playing right now, “Living in America,” is the same music as “The Foggy Dew,” a song about the 1916 Easter uprising.

  • Kate Rivera

    Irish writer Edna O’Brien speaks of the “Irish as the Blacks of Europe”;  and only lat week, a welll educated friend of mine said to me (I am  deeply Irish American ; 2nd generation from two grandparents and 3rd generation from other two)…well the Irish are considered the blacks of Europe aren’t they..ior weren’t they?  So that notion is certainly out there.

      And on the notion of Race as a cultural construcion, please see Nell Painter White’s most recent book, “The History of White People”

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  • ACR

    I’m sorry Jack made that awful comment about the pace of life being slower in Ireland than in the US. It’s such a stereotype. It has been my experience that for some Americans moving to Ireland to work that the very fast pace of work comes as a huge shock as they were expecting an “ah, sure it’ll do tomorrow” state of mind, but the Irish tend to work hard and play hard in the real world.

    • osullivan

      But the pace of life is slower….. it really is. Trust me, I’m here!!

      • Sam Walworth

         Give me that life in Ireland in exchange I will give up life of Boston and will relocate there :)

        • O’Sullivan

          Well, property is cheap right now! 
          I recommend the South West. Cork is where it’s at. The Rebel County!! Have fun!!

    • Ctwood2

      ACR, what part of Ireland are you referring to? Rural parts of America are also different from where most of the urban/suburban population lives.

      Go to the west, away from Cork or Limerick, and you will find a kind of life driven by natural seasons and not clocks. 

  • Longfellow’s Evangeline

    In early 1980′s a friend bought an antique camera from another friend of mine.  There were plates and chemicals, etc.  When we got back to the office the next day, my friend had run contact prints of the large 8 x 10 glass plates.  They seemed to be official railroad photographer who also took photographs of families at their homesteads in Ohio.  We studied the details, and there was an Orange Day parade.  There were Irish in the typical houses, and the whole families and their dogs were in each.  Long white dresses, Women’s hair on top in White Curtain Irish fashion for the photograph.  And then men may have come in from the field and were still holding themselves up on their pitchforks.  They were lovely, magical.  My friend who bought the camera was magical, too.

    • Anonymous

      Do you know what an Orange parade is? Are you sure it was an Orange parade?

      • O’Sullivan

        I reckon it was the annual Eucharistic Procession. This is an annual catholic thing where the village/town would have the paraded walked through the streets. I agree definitely not an Orange Parade. 

    • Ctwood2

      Orange parades aren’t bothered with outside of northern Ireland since they carry no historical meaning beyond the land of the troubles.

    • Susanna4

      Do you know what happened to the photos?  Did your friend give them to the historical society?  I’d love to be able to see them–as would others, I am sure.  My g-g-grandparents emigrated from Co. Cavan to Defiance, OH, as indentured servants.  They later had their own farm there.  



  • O’Sullivan

    I’m Irish, living in San Diego for 5 years. Love the USofA. BUT….. it’s St. Paddys Day NOT St. Pattys Day. I have never eaten Corned Beef, I have never seen a leprechaun and YES I would go to Belfast. It’s a perfectly nice city. 

    There, I just wanted to purge some common misconceptions!!! Have a great St. PADDY’s day!!

    • Ctwood2


      Never seen a leprechaun?  Obviously not enough Jamesons and mushrooms.

  • Sam Walworth

    Had the fortune of living and working in Rep of Ireland (Co Westmeath and Co. Donegal).

    Needless to say, I have fallen in love with the land.. and imho, its one of the best places in the earth in terms of living and bringing up family.

    Enjoyed the 06 Paddy’s Day in Letterkenny

    Given a chance, will love to relocate back (and live happily ever after :) )

  • Kate doordan

    Jack is right. My grandfather’s mother sent her son to America knowing she would never see him again. And she sacrificed to send him–she sold the family pig to finance the journey. He worked in the mills at the turn of the last century, married another Irish immigrant and had 8 children. Another CRUCIAL value: 7 of the 8 children graduated from college. Education remains a core value of my family. Kate

    • Mary

      Remarkably, it was a time when it was possible for seven children from a family to pay for college. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C2STBLZJK4VKQBV27DVQX3I6CU FAX68

    As a Filipino living in Boston. Let me ask the Irish in South Boston. Why are you so racist?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C2STBLZJK4VKQBV27DVQX3I6CU FAX68

      My closest friend was born and bred in Ireland and the most disturbing thing she said to me “I don’t like the Irish American living in South Boston” (she’s dating a black man)

      • Samsara

        Racism is as AMERICAN as apple pie. 

    • Samsara

      For years, the Irish were considered the lowest on the rung of social hierarchy in America with the exception of the former black slaves. Have you ever heard the term “the blacks of Europe”? That was the Irish. Harvard-trained geneticists in the 19th century even claimed that the Irish were not white. 

      The recourse left to the Irish then was to adopt a racist attitude towards blacks that distinguished them from this group. Eventually, the Irish were accepted as “white” and infiltrated the mainstream, but it took a long time. This legacy lingers, especially in areas where the Irish still live in poverty, like South Boston.

      Jack Beatty talks about some of this legacy early in the show. 

  • Longfellow’s Evangeline

    Tom, for your consideration, the quotes at the front of a book I have.  There are four:  Latin Last:
    “That good men should have the freedom  which they merit, the bad should have the curb which they need.” – Milton
    “”It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free, their passions forge their fetters” – Burke.
    “The judgements of God are for ever unchangeable, neither is he wearied by the long process of time, and won to give his blessing in one age to that which he hath cursed in another.” – Raleigh.

    “Memoriam prioris servitutis, ac testimonium ‘praesentium bonorum composuisse.” – Tacitus, Agric., c. 3.

  • Longfellow’s Evangeline

    Forgot to add, this is the frontpiece or whatever you call it os “Historical Outlines of POLITICAL CATHOLICISM; ITS PAPACY – PRELACY-PRIESTHOOD-PEOPLE.’ lONDON, cHAPMAN AND hALL, 1853

  • JA

    As a proud half-WASP, of First Nation, African American, etc. descent (…in the interests of full disclosure, no known Irish after the 12th century), I have to observe that Tom Ashbrook’s opening premise is wrong.  The first hyphenated Americans were (…wait for it) Anglo-Americans.  …Which should provide some context for all of us, including those who are presently so bent about immigration.  Methinks thou protesteth too much.

  • Valeriemccaffrey

    Sorry, Tom, but the first Irish to come to our shores came right away; then in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth there was a real immigration (remember Scarlet O’Hara?). My own Irish immigrant ancestors came to Virginia then to New Jersey. My husband’s on the other hand arrived at the end of the 19th century as teen-ager in what was a form of ethnic cleansing. But arrive and prosper they did. Do your homework!

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  • WoodTimothy

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    will Change
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Sep 17, 2014
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