14% of my DNA is Irish - which actually was a shock to me - always thought I was Scotch and my Tennessee family referred to themselves as Scotch-Irish. I related more to the Scotch side - my surname YOUNG. which is a very common surname in Scotland and England. All of my ancestors who were Irish, were colonial settlers coming from in and around, the province of Ulster. Many were descendants of Scottish and English farmers who had settled in Ireland during the 17th century.
Approximately, 250,000 Irish migrated to the US during the colonial era - Most of them settled in the colonial backcountry of the Appalachian mountain region and that is where my family came from - Kentucky and Tennessee. The vast majority of those that had arrived previously had been Protestants or Presbyterians and had quickly assimilated, not least because English was their first language, and most had marketable skills and perhaps some small savings on which to start to build a new life. Very soon they had become independent and prosperous.
Irish immigration to America after 1846 was predominantly Catholic. Between 1845–1852, The Great Irish Famine brought nearly 2 million Irish; many died in route on ships due to illness and dark, dismal conditions. The ships were later called Coffin Ships. These Irish-Catholics preferred to stay in big cities within Irish communities. Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, as well as Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, St. Paul, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The Irish were having a huge impact on America as a whole. In 1910, there were more people in New York City of Irish ancestry than Dublin's whole population, and even today, many of these cities still retain a substantial Irish American community.
While many Irish did stay near large cities, in ethnic ghettos countless others were part of westward expansion. They were enticed by tales of gold, and by the increasing opportunities for work and land. In 1854, the government opened Kansas Territory to settlers. While many people, in general, moved to take advantage of the unsettled land, Irish were an important part. Many Irish men were physical laborers. In order to civilize the west, many strong men were needed to build the towns and cities. Kansas City was one city that was built by Irish immigrants. the expansion of railroads. Railway work was a common occupation among immigrant men because workers were in such high demand.
The 2 Irish groups - The Ulster Irish and the Catholic Irish had little initial interaction in America, as the 18th-century Ulster immigrants were predominantly Protestant and the new Irish immigrants were Catholic, destitute and desperate and lacking in skills. Sadly, the became victimized and discriminated - All they wanted were jobs - so they could feed their large families and because of this, they were given menial jobs - and worked long hours.
History shows how important that Irish generation was in the infrastructure of America.
The large Erie Canal project
Kansas City, Kansas
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
Central Pacific Railroad
How the Irish Built America
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