Irish in America

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In the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth century Ireland's population grew rapidly. Ireland lagged behind most of mid-west Europe in industrialization and urbanization. They relied mainly on an agrarian economy, which made it very hard for them to absorb large numbers of people in any other sphere of work but farming. This will lead to the "The Great Potato Famine" in the mid nineteenth century. The mass exodus from Ireland was more a flight of refugees than an ordinary immigration. The first waves of Irish immigrants would only leave on their transatlantic journey during spring or summer, but as the Famine persisted, that changed rapidly. By the first month of 1847, hysteria had taken over and immigrants left, with little care or preparation, for any port that would take them out of Ireland (MacDonagh 319-388).

The appearance of the Irish as they disembarked from immigrant ships attracted attention and ridicule from native Americans.

They were dressed in a fashion that most Americans found completely ridiculous. Their brogue called attention to them immediately, which, however vivid was usually the language of the uneducated (Wittke 40). The Irish were unruly, noisy, and bad-mannered. However bad their manners, or how lazy they may appear, they were quick learners and mostly good natured. Even at an Irishmen's worst, he always showed great love for his home and children.

They were very gregarious and seemed to prefer a good argument than to loneliness. Perhaps it was this fear of being alone that drove so many Irishmen to become saloonkeepers and bartenders. It is believed that most Irish drank to dull the since of pain in the misery of crowded cities and factory towns (Wittke 48). They were chastised for their lack of cleanliness, and their deplorable behavior at Irish wakes and funerals. There...