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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I is for Irish Migration


One of the cliches one hears in the United States this week is that "Everyone's Irish!" People who couldn't find Ireland on a map of the British Isles will be doing the Wearing of the Green, to the delight or irritation of many.

So how many Americans ARE Irish? According to the 2000 Census, of the 281.4 million people in the country, 30.5 million, or 10.8% self-identify as Irish. In a more recent calculation, 36.3 million U.S. residents claimed "Irish ancestry in 2008. This number was more than eight times the population of Ireland itself (4.4 million). Irish was the nation’s second most frequently reported ancestry, trailing only German."

Most people are familiar with the potato famine of the 1840s which generated much of the emigration from Ireland to the US. But in fact, the trend started earlier than that.

"Between 1820 and 1860, the Irish constituted over one third of all immigrants to the United States. In the 1840s, they comprised nearly half of all immigrants to this nation. Interestingly, pre-famine immigrants from Ireland were predominately male, while in the famine years and their aftermath, entire families left the country. In later years, the majority of Irish immigrants were women."

The Irish-Americans suffered some definite hostility. For instance: "In the Questions for Admittance to the American Party (1854), inductees committed to '...elect to all offices of Honor, Profit, or Trust, no one but native born citizens of America, of this Country to the exclusion of all Foreigners, and to all Roman Catholics, whether they be of native or Foreign Birth, regardless of all party predilections whatever'." There were also racial pressures: "...the Irish and Blacks had reason to feel they were treated unfairly in the workforce, and often at one another's expense."

Eventually, though the "Irish influence resulted in increased power for the Democratic Party as well as the Catholic Church. William R. Grace became New York City’s first Irish-Catholic mayor in 1880. Four years later, Hugh O’Brien won the same position in Boston.

"Irish-American political clout led to increased opportunities for the Irish-American. Looking out for their own, the political machines made it possible for the Irish to get jobs, to deal with naturalization issues, even to get food or heating fuel in emergencies. The political machines also rewarded their own through political appointments."

I happen to think that there are actually more Irish in America than have been reported. The mixing of the races has probably made tracking lineage difficult in some cases. A prime example is delineated in the book The Sweeter The Juice about an Irish woman and a mulatto man marrying after the Civil War. Many of the descendants, especially those living as black, have holes in their family trees.

Where are the Irish-American enclaves in the US? According to the ePodunk site, the concentration is in the Northeast, plus in and around the state of Illinois. Interestingly, Albany, NY is NOT on the list; given the partying that goes on after every St. Patrick's Day parade, such as the one from Saturday past, maybe it's the faux green wearers who are the most vigorous celebrants.


(A not so subtle reminder for Americans to fill out the Census forms they received this week.)

ABC Wednesday

ROG

33 comments:

Sylvia K said...

Interesting post for the I day, Roger! Most of my ancestors came from Ireland in the early 1800s and gradually over the years moved from the east coast to Texas -- of all places in the mid 1800s. Hope you're having a great week!

Sylvia

LisaF said...

I'm curious as to just how long it takes you to put these together? The historical information is wonderful. Maybe your blog should be required reading for all social studies/history classes?! Thanks again for a great post.

Roger Owen Green said...

Lisa- Depends. It helps to know what the topic is going to be, then I keep my eyes open. The Census things were e-mailed to me by Census, e.g., so I HAD to use that. It is usually the post that takes the longest during the week, which is whuy I often do a meme the day before.
I know what next week will be and I don't think it'll take too long, nor will the week after.

Now I got to find out what M is going to BE, and that will help a lot.

anthonynorth said...

Another excellent post. There are usually many more immigrants of any ethnicity in a country than the country officially knows about.

RuneE said...

All I can boast of in this connection is that I have been to Ireland...

photowannabe said...

Fascinating information. I don't have any claims to Ireland but would love to visit the Emerald Isle. Thanks for taking time to research your posts for us.
I agree with LisaF. Your posts should be required reading.

Stan Ski said...

It always amazes me how a country with such a small population has so many descendants.

Joy said...

Interesting that they seem to have stopped on the east coast or like you say there are more than are registered. If you count the number of Irish bars there must be billions, LOL. Happy St Patrick's Day.

Jama said...

Interesting post, in fact all your post are very Informative!

Manang Kim said...

Very excellent post Roger. It is easy to understand. What I knew about Irish people they are beautiful. Have a great week!

I is for Icicles

Hildred and Charles said...

Wonderfully informative post, Roger.

My Irish ancestry is all mixed up with the Scotch in Ulster, but Charles' mother's maiden name was O'Callahan - now just how Irish can you get!

Paula Scott said...

Yes, there certainly are a LOT more Irish than reported. Just look at how many 'Irish' there are that celebrate St. Patrick's Day! ; )
I agree with Lisa-I know how long it takes me to my posts together, so I can imagine to some degree how long it must take you to put yours together.
Excellent and enlighting post, as always!

Sh@KiR@ CK said...

Great informations.

Just want to wish you HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!
Have you a great one!

hugs
shakira

Oscar Wilde-The IRISH Gentleman

ART OF GENEROSITY

Reader Wil said...

I agree with LisaF that your blog is interesting and gives a lot of historic information. I wonder what this sentence meant:"no one but native born citizens of America, of this Country to the exclusion of all Foreigners...."? Native born citizens are in my opinion the Indians, or am I wrong?

Grace and Bradley said...

Very nice post and highlight Irish contribution to the US history. We were in Boston for over ten years, and have healthy respect of Irish political power.

Anders og Birgit said...

Thanks for the information! I'm going to Irland this summer and I'm really looking forward to it :)

jay said...

I've often wondered why St Patrick's Day is so widely embraced in the US. I suppose this post does go some way towards explaining it, but the ancestry is so mixed and so far back that surely in time everyone in the US will have some Irish blood in them?

But then again ... we are a nation of mongrels, here in England. We've been invaded so many times and embraced so much immigration that there surely must be no-one left who is pure Angle (the origin of the word 'English') and yet, we English can be fiercely proud of the fact and many of us resent the attempts by Government to wipe us off the map.

Mara said...

I've been to Ireland more than a dozen times and you cannot get around it: oppression, famine, no opportunities. No wonder so many tried their luck abroad. But you can still see it everywhere in Ireland!

Monika said...

i get my history lessons here me likes :)

Gattina said...

Very interesting post ! I have read quiet a lot of books of stories from Irish emigrants! I have an Irish friend but have never been to Irland (yet)

Nydia said...

I have a couple of Irish friends I absolutely adore, and I agree qwith Lisa, so many great info here!

Great I post.

Kisses from Nydia.

Spiderdama said...

Interesting post for I!:-)

Tumblewords: said...

Excellent post and 'census reminder' - I have mine ready to return.

In elementary school, I asked my parents what nationality I was and they replied 'American'. Someday, I may start the genealogical trail or maybe some of the next generation will.

belladana said...

Interesting and informative! Just for you I will fill out my census form. Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Pam said...

Great I post, Rodger. I too am little Irish, but then on St. Patty's Day everyone thinks they're a little Irish.

Lily Hydrangea said...

very interesting post about the Irish Roger!
I never thought of people getting irritated about others pretending for a day! I must admit I am one of the big offenders. I celebrated on Monday by eating Irish cupcakes - I couldn't resist.

Lily Hydrangea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dragonfly said...

It will be interesting to see what this years census has to say!

Happy St Pat's... I'm off for a guiness!

http://www.gardenersreach.com/post/I-is-for-Invasive.aspx

snapperoni said...

Pretty stamp! :P

What a good read. Happy St. Paddy's!

Ann said...

I wore green, and I taught my ESL immigrant students about the shamrock. I asked what they would do when they find a 4 leaf clover, some say" Go to the casino." Some say:" Buy lottery."

jabblog said...

Great post,Roger and most informative as usual.
I agree with Jay - there's no more mongrel race than the English. I suppose many of us could claim Italian, French, Danish Dutch blood as well as Scottish, Irish, Welsh. Actually, weren't the Scots immigrant Irish? and many Irish must have Spanish blood. Ah, the world is a melting pot - quite right!

Madison said...

Good information in your article. For me St. Paddy's Day is an excuse to die my hair green and drink Guinness.

I'm curious, does you government have as much trouble getting people to fill our their forms as we do in Canada? I used to work for Statistics Canada and the census was total pain.

BTW I watched the iRack video. Very funny.

Roger Owen Green said...

Madison - Goodness, yes. The Census Bureau has allowed people to fill out their own Census form (since 1960, I think), and still we as taxpayers spend tens of millions of dollars on enumerators doing door-to-door follow-up.