Éirí N-Aicébá Irish Immigration. Emily Nail Dan Fitzpatrick Micah Allen-Doucot. Overview.
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.
“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, besides St. Patrick’s Day and Corned Beef….
Ulysses S. Chester Arthur
George H. Bush
George W. Bush
People with Irish heritage have been
running our country since the beginning of America.
But how has Irish immigration affected the less political part of our lives?
Such as… music
Irish American Bands
Irish American Actors
Ok, there’s Irish
people in office, acting and making music. Now, are they really as superstitious as the stereotype says they are?
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 literature.
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
Glen Road to Carrick/Boys of Lough/Dublin
Citi na gCumann
Special Thanks to Devin Meacham for letting us borrow her Aunt for our interview.