Monday, April 10, 2017

Irish Immigrants in America

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
Brooklyn Bridge
Boston’s Harbor
Transcontinental Railroad
Central Pacific Railroad

How the Irish Built America

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  1. Welcome to the Irish club...and the formidable research challenges that entails. I'm working with a group of cousins trying to find the home parish of our common Irish ancestors and it's quite the uphill struggle!

  2. No Irish in my family (to the best of my knowledge, that is). For my husband, of Italian ancestry, some of his cousins married Irish. We have a contingent of "Conklin" in his family.

  3. I have not done that test, but I wonder what it would show. Most of my ancestors were highlanders, but there were some Ulster Scots also

  4. A proud heritage any way you slice it! Think I saw a movie where Tom Cruise's character was Irish and migrated Westward to get farm land.
    Perspectives at Life & Faith in Caneyhead

  5. I would fall over with a feather if I had any Irish descent although I know about the great famine, which was horrible


About Me

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Stay at home Mom to 1 dog and 2 cats. I am the "big sister" in the photo. My baby sister, passed away unexpectedly, Sept. 2015 at the young age of 56. I miss her terribly. Everyone in my childhood family has now passed. I have 3 sons. My oldest son died in 2003 at the age of 25. I am not LDS. I do enjoy History and GENEALOGY has become my hobby and my passion.