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Irish-American Heritage Month

March

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, all events for this Heritage month have gone virtual or been cancelled. Although unable to meet in groups, we are dedicated to celebrating the culture Irish-Americans bring to our campus. 

Irish-Americans have heavily influenced and made tremendous contributions to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. For the duration of the month of March, we celebrate these individuals and the diversity they add to our nation and Dustdevil family.

 A Brief History

As of 2019, 30.4 million U.S. residents indicated they claim ancestry traced back to Ireland. That’s more than six times the current population of Ireland.

Here in the United States, the largest concentrations of Americans who claim Irish heritage is in Illinois, specifically Cook County, with some 438,350. Other epicenters of Irish American population include the New York City “Metropolitan Statistical Area.”

Transatlantic Irish immigrants came to the American colonies in waves. The first to arrive, known as Scots-Irish, or Scotch-Irish, were Scots from the southern lowlands who migrated to Ireland in the early 17th Century. They eventually immigrated from Ireland to America. A majority settled throughout the Appalachian states of Virginia south to Georgia.

The second wave, beginning in 1845, was prompted by the appearance of a fungus that affected Irish potato crops, spawning a three-year famine that fueled one the largest mass migrations to the United States by a single ethnicity. Many entered through the port of New York. Some consider this the Irish Diaspora.

Among Irish Americans who have played historic or substantial roles in American history are Presidents John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama; dancer and choreographer Michael Flatley; “Billy the Kid” (William Henry McCarty) a Wild West crook and vagabond; Eileen Marie Collins, U. S. Air Force pilot; Elizabeth Cochran Seaman (“Nellie Bly”) an investigative journalist; Maureen O’Hara, actress and film star; Frank McCourt, best-selling author; Bruce Springsteen, rock star, and Jackie Kennedy Onassis, First Lady and wife of John F. Kennedy.

 

Sources:

The Irish In Us: A Quick Primer on Irish-American Genealogy Research by Andy McCarthy, Milstein Division of U.S. History, Local History & Genealogy, The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building March 16, 2021; Irish Americans Who Changed the World by Erika Sanger, IrelandBeforeYouDie.com website.