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Irish Americans ( ) are citizens of the United Statesmarker who trace their ancestry to Irelandmarker. A estimated total of 36,278,332 Americans — over 11.9% of total population—reported some Irish ancestry in the 2008 American Community Survey. The only self-reported ancestral group larger than Irish Americans are German Americans. This figure does not include those reporting Scots-Irish ancestry, who are counted separately, and account for at least three and a half million additional Americans.

Immigration to America

Roman Catholics

Irish Catholics had been migrating to the United States in moderate numbers even before the American Revolution, some as ordinary domestic servants, some as indentured servants, or as a result of penal deportations; their numbers had increased by the 1820s as migrants, mostly males, became involved in canal building, lumbering, and civil construction works in the Northeast. The large Erie Canal project was one such example where Irishmen were the majority of the laborers. Small but tight communities developed in growing cities such as Philadelphiamarker, Bostonmarker, New Yorkmarker and Providencemarker.

During and after the Great Irish Famine (or Great Hunger, ) of 1845-1849, large numbers of Irish came to North America, primarily Canada and the United States. Many Irish who left Ireland for America during the famine and subsequent years died en route due to poverty, ill health, and poor conditions. As a result the ships they travelled on became known as coffin ships.

Nearly a third of all Irish emigrants during this period emigrated to Canadamarker, having a large impact on a smaller population there as many arrived in a disease stricken state. Although the greater portion of these arrivals stayed in Canada, particularly in Torontomarker and Ontariomarker, a significant number moved on to the United States to join quickly growing Irish American communities, some after staying in Canada for only a few years.
Between 1820 and 1860, the Irish constituted over one third of all immigrants to the United States, and two-thirds of these Irish immigrants were Catholic. This trend reached its peak in 1840, when nearly half of all immigrants to the United States originated from Ireland.

Many of these immigrants went to the largest cities, especially Boston and New York, as well as Philadelphia, Pittsburghmarker, Detroitmarker, Chicagomarker, St. Louismarker, San Franciscomarker, and Los Angelesmarker. In 1910, there were more people in New York City of Irish heritage than Dublinmarker's whole population. Even today, many of these cities still retain a substantial Irish American community. These cities became the conduit through which Irish, both Protestant and Catholic, entered American society.

Recruiting drives to enlist recent Catholic Irish emigrants as field soldiers during the Mexican-American War and later the American Civil War proved troublesome for the U.S. Army, most often due to anti-Catholic and anti-Irish attitudes in the U.S. military, but without employment many new immigrant Catholic Irish wound up enlisting anyway. Draft riots occurred, the best known being the New York Draft Riots resulting from conscription ordered by President Lincoln in 1863.

After 1860, Irish Catholic immigration continued, mainly due to family reunification, mostly to the large cities where Irish American neighborhoods had previously been established.

The majority of Irish immigrants spoke English; some were bilingual or native speakers of Irish. The highest number of Irish Gaelic speakers in New York City was between the years 1878-99 which was estimated at 80,000. This number declined during the early 20th century dropping to 40,000 in 1939, 10,000 in 1979 and 5,000 in 1995. According to the latest census, the Irish language ranks 66th out of the 322 languages spoken today in the U.S., with over 25,000 speakers. New York State has the most Irish Gaelic speakers, and Massachusetts the highest percentage, of the 50 states. Daltaí na Gaeilge, a nonprofit Gaelic language advocacy group based in Elberon, New Jerseymarker, estimated that about 30,000 speak the language as of 2006. This, the organization claimed, has seen an increase from only a few thousand at the time of its founding in 1981.

Scotch-Irish and Irish Protestants

The term Scotch-Irish (aka Ulster-Scots) is usually used to designate descendants of Scottishmarker and Englishmarker immigrants to Ireland who later emigrated to North America. Initially they were known as Irish until the large 19th century Catholic Irish migrations. There are approximately three and a half million reporting Scotch-Irish ancestry, who are counted separately from those counted as Irish in the U.S. Ulster is a region where much intermingling of Scots, English, and Irish people took place due to the Ulster Plantations; the U.S. Census of 2000 reported 4.9 million self-identified members of this group.

This group primarily originates with around a quarter of a million Scotch-Irish who fled the economic distress and social upheaval of Ulster in the 18th century. They emigrated to America primarily before 1776 as subjects of the British Empire moving from one region to another.

Many of the "Scotch-Irish" Protestants had assimilated into society by the time the large numbers of Irish Catholic immigrants arrived. When the Scotch-Irish first arrived, they were perceived as a distinctive group who settled mostly in the backcountry; not only were the Irish Catholics a much larger group arriving in a later era of immigration, but they were at first separated from the main society by their Catholic religion and differing ethnic origin. In addition, they came from a mostly rural culture and entered cities in the United States which were rapidly industrializing. They had additional challenges than did the Scotch-Irish who could become yeoman farmers in the early generations. These issues affected how Americans received Irish Catholics, as well as how they took to the United States.

In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in the historical roots of Irish Protestants in North America. The Protestant Irish, particularly of Scotch-Irish background, usually retained a strong interest in farming, herding, and hunting. Additionally through cousinage and clan ties, many of the Scotch-Irish were rapidly encouraged to move onto the frontier where fellow Scotch-Irish and American natives of Scotch-Irish background awaited. Nonetheless, a significant number of the Scotch-Irish who remained in the cities of the United States quickly took advantage of the new Republic's opportunities and assimilated into the artisan, craftsmen, and small business classes.


Many Irish Catholic immigrants went directly to the cities, mill towns, and railroad or canal construction sites in the east coast. In upstate New York, the Great Lakes area, the Midwest and the Far West, many became farmers or ranchers. In the East, the laborers were hired by Irish labor contractors to work in "labor gangs" as manual laborers on canals, railroads, streets, sewers and other construction projects, particularly in New York statemarker and New Englandmarker. Large numbers moved to New England mill towns, such as Holyokemarker, Lowellmarker, Tauntonmarker, Brocktonmarker, Fall Rivermarker, and Milfordmarker, Massachusettsmarker, where Protestant owners of textile mills welcomed the new low-wage workers. They took the jobs previously held by Yankee Protestant women known as Lowell girls. A large fraction of Irish Catholic women took jobs as maids in middle class households and hotels.

Large numbers of unemployed Irish Catholics lived in squalid conditions in the new city slums.

Although the Irish Catholics started very low on the social status scale, by 1900, they had jobs and earnings about equal on average to their neighbors. After 1945, the Catholic Irish consistently ranked toward the top of the social hierarchy, thanks especially to their high rate of college attendance.

The Irish quickly found employment in the police departments, fire departments and other public works of major cities, largely in the North East and around the Great Lakes. By 1855, according to New York Police Commissioner George W. Matsell, himself an Englishman having been born in Liverpool, Englandmarker in 1806, almost 17 percent of the police department's officers were Irish-born (compared to 28.2 percent of the city) in a report to the Board of Alderman. In the 1860s more than half of those arrested in New York City were Irish born or of Irish descent but nearly half of the City's law enforcement officers were also Irish. By the turn of the century, five out of six NYPD officers were Irish born or of Irish descent. As late as 1960s, even after minority hiring efforts, 42% of the NYPD were comprised of Irish Americans.

Irish Americans continue to have a disproportionate membership in the law enforcement community, especially in New England, where they continue to have a dominating role. When the Emerald Society of the Boston Police Department was formed in 1973, half of the city's police officers became members.


1862 song that used the "No Irish Need Apply" slogan.
It was copied from a similar London song.
It was common for Irishmen to be discriminated against in social situations. Intermarriage between Catholics and Protestants was uncommon, and strongly discouraged by both ministers and priests.

Public schools relied heavily on the King James Version of the Bible, with passages considered derogatory by Catholics; an important response was the creation of a Catholic parochial school system. These schools, and numerous Catholic colleges, allowed Irish youth to be educated without this discrimination in public school systems.

Prejudice against Irish Catholics in the US reached a peak in the mid-1850s with the Know Nothing Movement, which tried to oust Catholics from public office. Thomas Hardy and Thomas Nast published popular political cartoons of Irish drinking, fighting, ignoring their children, gambling, and crowding poorhouses.

New York Times want ad 1854–the only New York Times ad with NINA for men.
A common example of discrimination were signs reading "HELP WANTED - NO IRISH NEED APPLY", which were also referred to as "the NINA signs." NINA signs were common in London in the early 1800s, and the memory of this discrimination in Britainmarker was imported to the US. After 1860 the Irish sang songs (see illustration) about NINA signs, and these songs have had a deep impact on the Irish sense of discrimination. NINA signs existed in the US, as depicted in the New York Times ad and the lyrics of the song noted here. Some argue that this discrimination did not exist or was minimal, or that these signs were not as pervasive as many believe, but, regardless of the extent of its existence or pervasiveness, these two examples show that discrimination did indeed exist. NINA signs continue to be referred to in modern times.

Irish were credited with dominating the most difficult and dangerous jobs in the East building railroads needed for oil refining and for the trans-continental railroads, but were gradually replaced as the transcontinental railroad went West where Asian American labor was cheaper and less likely to demand union representation. According to Stephen Ambrose, approximately one-third of the workers died building the trenches for the tracks, often disappearing, never to be brought home.


Irish Catholics were popular targets for stereotyping. According to historian George Potter, the media often stereotyped the Irish in America as being boss-controlled, violent (both among themselves and with those of other ethnic groups), voting illegally, prone to alcoholism, and dependent on street gangs that were often violent or criminal. Potter quotes contemporary newspaper images:

The Irish had many humorists of their own, but were scathingly attacked in German American cartoons, especially those in Puck magazine from the 1870s to 1900. In addition, the cartoons of German American Thomas Nast were especially hostile; for example, he depicted the Irish-dominated Tammany Hall machine in New York City as a ferocious tiger.

Irish settlement in the South

Irish Catholics concentrated in a few medium-size cities where they were highly visible, such as Charlestonmarker, Savannahmarker and New Orleansmarker. They became local leaders in the Democratic party, favored the Union in 1860, but became staunch Confederates in 1861. Starting as low skilled manual laborers, they achieved average or above average economic status by 1900. As one historian explains:

Sense of heritage

Irish-American Flag
People of Irish descent, particularly Roman Catholics, retain a sense of their Irish heritage. A sense of exile, diaspora, and (in the case of songs) even nostalgia is common in Irish America. It is unclear to what extent the sense of kinship with Ireland is embraced or resented by the actual citizens of Ireland, now that the country is strengthening its ties to Europe and becoming increasingly multi-racial. The term "Plastic Paddy", meaning someone who was not born in Ireland and who is separated from their closest Irish-born ancestor by (often) many generations, but who still likes to think of themselves as "Irish", is occasionally used in a derogatory fashion towards Irish Americans, but is more often used good-naturedly. The term is freely applied to relevant people of all nationalities, not solely Irish Americans.

Many Irish Americans were enthusiastic supporters of Irish independence; the Fenian Brotherhood movement was based in the United States and launched several attacks on British-controlled Canada known as the "Fenian Raids". The Provisional IRA received significant funding for its paramilitary activities from a group of Irish American supporters — in 1984, the US Department of Justicemarker won a court case forcing the Irish American fundraising organization NORAID to acknowledge the Provisional IRA as its "foreign principal".

Irish Catholic Americans settled in large and small cities throughout the North, particularly railroad centers and mill towns. They became perhaps the most urbanized group in America, as few became farmers. Areas that retain a significant Irish American population include the metropolitan areas of Bostonmarker, Philadelphiamarker, New York Citymarker, Chicagomarker, and San Franciscomarker, where most new arrivals of the 1830-1910 period settled. As a percentage of the population, Massachusetts is the most Irish state, with about a quarter of the population claiming Irish descent. The most Irish American town in the United States is Milton, MAmarker, with 38% of its 26,000 or so residents being of Irish descent. Boston, New York, and Chicago have neighborhoods with higher percentages of Irish American residents. Regionally, the most Irish American part of the country remains central New England. Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Delaware are the three states in which Irish heritage is the most dominant. Interestingly, in consequence of its unique history as a mining center, Butte, Montana is also one of the country's most thoroughly Irish American cities. Greeley, Nebraska (population 527) has the highest percentage of Irish American residents (43%) of any town or city with a population of over 500 in the United States. The town was part of the Irish Catholic Colonization effort of Bishop O'Connor of New York in the 1880s.
Population density of people born in Ireland, 1870; these were mostly Catholics; the older Scots Irish immigration is not shown.

Irish in politics and government

After the early example of Charles Lynch, the Catholic Irish moved rapidly into law enforcement, and (through the Catholic Church) built hundreds of schools, colleges, orphanages, hospitals, and asylums. Political opposition to the Catholic Irish climaxed in 1854 in the short-lived Know Nothing Party.

By the 1850s, the Irish Catholics were a major presence in the police departments of large cities. In New York City in 1855, of the city's 1,149 policemen, 305 were natives of Ireland. Both Boston's police and fire departments provided many Irish immigrants with their first jobs. The creation of a unified police force in Philadelphia opened the door to the Irish in that city. By 1860 in Chicago, 49 of the 107 on the police force were Irish. Chief O'Leary headed the police force in New Orleans and Malachi Fallon was chief of police of San Francisco.

The Irish Catholic diaspora have a reputation for being very well organized, and, since 1850, have produced a majority of the leaders of the U.S. Catholic Church, labor unions, the Democratic Party in larger cities, and Catholic high schools, colleges and universities. John F. Kennedy was their greatest political hero. Al Smith, who lost to Herbert Hoover in the 1928 presidential election, was the first Irish Catholic to run for president. From the 1830s to the 1960s, Irish Catholics voted 80-95% Democratic, with occasional exceptions like the election of 1920.

Today, most Irish Catholic politicians are associated with the Democratic Party, although some became Republican leaders, such as former GOP national chairman Ed Gillespie, former House Homeland Security Chairman Peter T. King and the late Congressman Henry Hyde. Ronald Reagan boasted of his Irishness (the son of an Irish Catholic father, he was raised as a Protestant). Historically, Irish Catholics controlled many city machines and often served as chairmen of the Democratic National Committee, including County Monaghanmarker native Thomas Taggart, Vance McCormick, James Farley, Edward J. Flynn, Robert E. Hannegan, J. Howard McGrath, William H. Boyle, Jr., John Moran Bailey, Larry O'Brien, Christopher J. Dodd, Terry McAuliffe and Tim Kaine. The majority of Irish Catholics in Congress are Democrats; currently Susan Collins of Maine is the only Irish Catholic Republican senator. Exit polls show that in recent presidential elections Irish Catholics have split about 50-50 for Democratic and Republican candidates; large majorities voted for Ronald Reagan. The pro-life faction in the Democratic party includes many Irish Catholic politicians, such as the former Bostonmarker mayor and ambassador to the Vatican Ray Flynn and senator Bob Casey, Jr., who defeated Senator Rick Santorum in a high visibility race in Pennsylvania in 2006.

In some states such as Connecticutmarker, the most heavily Irish communities now tend to be in the outer suburbs and generally support Republican candidates, such as New Fairfieldmarker.

Many major cities have elected Irish American Catholic mayors. Indeed, Bostonmarker, Cincinnatimarker, Houstonmarker, Newarkmarker, New York Citymarker, Omahamarker, Scrantonmarker, Pittsburghmarker, Saint Louismarker, Saint Paulmarker, and San Franciscomarker have all elected natives of Ireland as mayors. Chicagomarker, Boston, and Jersey Citymarker have had more Irish American mayors than any other ethnic group. The cities of Chicago, Baltimoremarker, Milwaukeemarker, Oaklandmarker, Omaha, St. Paul, Jersey Citymarker, Rochestermarker, [Northampton, Massachusetts]Springfieldmarker, Rockfordmarker, San Franciscomarker, Scranton, and Syracusemarker currently ( ) have Irish American mayors. All of these mayors are Democrats. Pittsburghmarker mayor Bob O'Connor died in office in 2006. New York City has had at least three Irish-born mayors and over eight Irish American mayors. The most recent one was County Mayomarker native William O'Dwyer, elected in 1949.

The Irish Protestant vote has not been studied nearly as much. Since the 1840s, it has been uncommon for a Protestant politician to be identified as Irish (though Ronald Reagan notably did and Bill Clinton claims to have Irish ancestry). In Canada, by contrast, Irish Protestants remained a cohesive political force well into the 20th century with many (but not all) belonging to the Orange Order. Throughout the 19th century, sectarian confrontation was commonplace between Protestant Irish and Catholic Irish in Canadian cities.

Presidents of Irish descent

A number of the Presidents of the United States have Scots-Irish origins, with a smaller number descended from ancestors from Ireland. The extent of Irish Heritage varies. For example, both of Andrew Jackson's parents were Irish born, while George W. Bush has a rather distant Irish ancestry. President Kennedy had far stronger Irish origins, which fell much closer in terms of date. Ronald Reagan's father was of partial Irish Catholic ancestry, while his mother had some Scots-Irish ancestors. James K. Polk also had Scots-Irish ancestry. Within this group, only Kennedy was raised as a practicing Roman Catholic. Current President Barack Obama's Irish heritage originates from his Kansasmarker born mother, Ann Dunham, whose ancestry is Irish and English while his father, Barack Obama, Sr. was a Kenyanmarker

  1. George Washington, 1st President 1789-97 (County Corkmarker).
  2. John Adams, 2nd President 1797-1801
  3. James Madison, 4th President 1809-17 (County Claremarker)
  4. James Monroe, 5th President 1817-25
  5. John Quincy Adams, 6th President 1825-29
  6. Andrew Jackson, 7th President 1829-37 (County Antrim)
  7. James Knox Polk, 11th President 1845-49 (County Londonderry)
  8. James Buchanan, 15th President 1857-61 (County Tyrone)
  9. Andrew Johnson, 17th president 1865-69 (County Antrim)
  10. Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President 1869-77 (County Tyrone)
  11. Chester A. Arthur, 21st President 1881-85 (County Antrim)
  12. Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th President 1885-89, 1893-97 (County Antrim)
  13. Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President 1889-93 (County Down)
  14. William McKinley, 25th President 1897-1901 (County Antrim)
  15. Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president 1901-09 (County Antrim)
  16. William Howard Taft, 27th President 1909-13
  17. Woodrow Wilson, 28th President 1913-21 (County Tyrone)
  18. Warren G. Harding, 29th President 1921-23
  19. Harry S. Truman, 33rd President 1945-53
  20. Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President 1963-69
  21. Richard Nixon, 37th President 1969-74 (County Antrim) & (County Kildaremarker)
  22. Gerald Ford, 38th President 1974-77 (County Monaghanmarker)
  23. Jimmy Carter, 39th President 1977-81 (County Londonderry)
  24. Ronald Reagan, 40th President 1981-89 (County Tipperarymarker)
  25. George H. W. Bush, 41st President 1989-93 (Counties Down & Wexford)
  26. Bill Clinton, 42nd President 1993-2001 (County Fermanagh)
  27. George W. Bush, 43rd President 2001-2009 (Counties Antrim, Cork, Down, & Wexford)
  28. Barack Obama, 44th President 2009- (County Offalymarker)

Other presidents of Irish descent

*Jefferson Davis, first and only President of the Confederate States of America.
*Sam Houston, President of Texasmarker 1836-38 and 1841-44

Irish-American Justices of the Supreme Court

*William Paterson born in County Antrim of Ulster-Scots origin
*Joseph McKenna
*Edward D. White
*Pierce Butler
*Frank Murphy
*James Francis Byrnes
*William J. Brennan
*Anthony Kennedy
*Sandra Day O'Connor

Contributions to American culture and sport

The annual celebration of Saint Patrick's Day is the most widely recognized symbol of the Irish presence in America. In cities throughout the United States, this traditional Irish religious holiday becomes an opportunity to celebrate all things Irish, or faux Irish. The largest celebration of the holiday takes place in New York, where the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade draws an average of two million people. The second-largest celebration is held at Boston's Southie Parade, which is one the nation's oldest dating back to 1737. Savannahmarker also holds one of the largest parades in the United States.

Since the arrival of tens of thousands of Irish immigrants in the 1840s, the urban Irish cop and firefighter have become virtual icons of American popular culture. In many large cities, the police and fire departments have been dominated by the Irish for over 100 years, even after the populations in those cities of Irish extraction dwindled down to small minorities. Many police and fire departments maintain large and active "Emerald Societies," bagpipe marching groups, or other similar units demonstrating their members' pride in their Irish heritage.

While these archetypal images are especially well known, Irish Americans have contributed to U.S. culture in a wide variety of fields: the fine and performing arts, film, literature, politics, sports, and religion. The Irish-American contribution to popular entertainment is reflected in the careers of figures such as James Cagney, Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, John Ford, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Grace Kelly, Tyrone Power, Ada Rehan, and Spencer Tracy. Irish-born actress Maureen O'Hara, who became an American citizen, defined for U.S. audiences the archetypal, feisty Irish "Colleen" in popular films such as The Quiet Man and The Long Gray Line. More recently, the Irish-born Pierce Brosnan gained screen celebrity as James Bond. During the early years of television, popular figures with Irish roots included Gracie Allen, Art Carney, Joe Flynn, Jackie Gleason, and Ed Sullivan. Today, comedians such as Stephen Colbert, George Carlin, Jane Curtin, Jimmy Fallon, Bill Murray, Kathy Griffin, and Conan O'Brien often reflect humorously on their Irish-American roots.

Since the early days of the film industry, celluloid representations of Irish-Americans have been plentiful. Famous films with Irish-American themes include social dramas such as Little Nellie Kelly and The Cardinal, labor epics like On the Waterfront, and gangster movies such as Angels with Dirty Faces, Gangs of New York, and The Departed. Irish-American characters have been featured in popular television series such as Ryan's Hope and Rescue Me.

Prominent Irish-American literary figures include Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning playwright Eugene O'Neill, Jazz Age novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, social realist James T. Farrell, mystery writer Raymond Chandler, and Southern Gothic writer Flannery O'Connor. The 19th-century novelist Henry James was also of partly Irish descent. While Irish Americans have been underrepresented in the plastic arts, two well known American painters claim Irish roots. Twentieth-century painter Georgia O'Keeffe was born to an Irish-American father, and 19th-century trompe-l'œil painter William Harnett emigrated from Ireland to the United States.

The Irish-American contribution to politics spans the entire ideological spectrum. Socially conservative Irish immigrants generally recoiled from radical politics, and in the early 1950s, a disproportionate percentage of Irish Americans supported Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist "witchhunt". Nevertheless, two prominent American socialists, Mary Harris "Mother" Jones and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, were Irish Americans. In the 1960s, Irish-American writer Michael Harrington became an influential advocate of social welfare programs. Harrington's views profoundly influenced President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert F. Kennedy. Meanwhile, Irish-American political writer William F. Buckley emerged as a major intellectual force in American conservative politics in the latter half of the 20th century. Buckley's magazine, National Review, proved an effective advocate of successful Republican candidates such as Ronald Reagan.

There have been a number of notorious Irish Americans, including the legendary New Mexicomarker outlaw known as Billy the Kid, whose real name was supposedly Henry McCarty. Many historians believe McCarty was born in New York City to Famine-era immigrants from Ireland. The infamous cook Mary Mallon, also known as Typhoid Mary was an Irish immigrant. New Orleansmarker socialite and murderess Delphine LaLaurie whose maiden name was Macarty, was of partial paternal Irish ancestry. Irish-American mobsters include, amongst others, George "Bugs" Moran, Dean O'Bannion, and Jack "Legs" Diamond. Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of John F. Kennedy had an Irish-born great-grandmother by the name of Mary Tonry. Colorful Irish Americans also include Margaret Tobin of Titanicmarker fame, scandalous model Evelyn Nesbit, dancer Isadora Duncan, and Nellie Cashman, nurse and gold prospector in the American west.

The wide popularity of Celtic music has fostered the rise of Irish-American bands that draw heavily on traditional Irish themes and music. Such groups include New York City's Black 47 founded in the late 1980s blending punk rock, rock and roll, Irish music, rap/hip-hop, reggae, and soul; and the Dropkick Murphys, a Celtic punk band formed in Quincy, Massachusettsmarker nearly a decade later. The Decemberists, a band featuring Irish-American singer Colin Meloy, recently released Shankill Butchers, a song that deals with the Ulster Loyalists the "Shankill Butchers". The song appears on their album The Crane Wife. Flogging Molly, lead by Dublin-born Dave King, are relative newcomers building upon this new tradition.

The Irish brought their native games of handball, hurling and Gaelic football to America. Along with handball and camogie, these sports are part of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The North American GAA organisation is still very strong.

Irish Americans can be found among the earliest stars in professional baseball, including Michael “King” Kelly, Roger Connor (the home run king before Babe Ruth), Eddie Collins, Roger Bresnahan, Ed Walsh and NY Giants manager John McGraw. The large 1945 class of inductees enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown included nine Irish Americans. In 2008, Foley's NY Pub & Restaurant created the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame to honor contributions to the game by manager Connie Mack; players Sean Casey, Tug McGraw, and Mark McGwire; journalists Red Foley and Jeff Horrigan; actor Kevin Costner; broadcaster John Flaherty; and NY Mets groundskeeper Pete Flynn.

A great-grandfather of the pre-eminent boxer Muhammad Ali (né Cassius Clay) was Abe Grady, an Ennismarker man who emigrated to the US in the 1860s.

Irish-American communities

See also


  1. Ruckenstein and O'Malley (2003), p. 195.
  2. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. "New York (City)." The Encyclopedia Britannica. 11th ed. Vol. XIX. New York: Encyclopedia Britannica Company, 1911. p. 617
  3. Phillips, Kevin P. The Cousins' Wars: Religion, Politics, and the Triumph of Anglo-America. New York: Basic Books, 2000. (pg. 543) ISBN 0-465-01370-8
  4. Garcia, Ofelia and Joshua A. Fishman, ed. The Multilingual Apple: Language in New York City. 2nd ed. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 2002. (pg. 67) ISBN 3-11-017281-X
  5. E.g., the Breens of the Donner-Reed Party, who went from Canada to Iowa to California.
  6. Greeley (1988), p. 1.
  7. Lardner, James and Thomas Reppetto. NYPD: A City and Its Police. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2000. ISBN 978-0-8050-6737-8
  8. Bessel, Richard and Clive Emsley. Patterns of Provocation: Police and Public Disorder. New York: Berghahn Books, 2000. (pg. 87) ISBN 1-57181-228-8
  9. Ambrose, Stephen. Nothing Like it in the World: The Men who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863-1869 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000).
  10. Smith, W. Flags through the Ages and across the World, McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1975.
  11. Znamierowski, A. The World Encyclopedia of Flags, Lorenz Books, 1999, 2007.
  12. Kenny (2000) p 105-6
  13. Potter (1960), p. 530
  14. Marlin (2004), pp. 296–345
  15. Prendergast (1999), p. 1.
  16. Village in Tipperary is Cashing In on Ronald Reagan's Roots, The New York Times, September 6, 1981
  17. name="DIG"
  18. Roberts and Otto (1995). p. 1.
  19. Flynn, John & Jerry Kelleher. Dublin Journeys in America pp. 150-153, High Table Publishing, 2003, ISBN 0-9544694-1-0
  20. pp. 148-149
  21. Wallis (2007), p. 6.
  22. Utley (1989), p. 2.
  23. Wallis (2007), p. 6.
  24. Utley (1989), p. 2.
  25. Louisiana census
  26. Irish Times 7 August 2009 p.2. Ali will visit his ancestral town in September 2009.


  • Gleeson; David T. (2001). The Irish in the South, 1815-1877. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0807826391
  • Greeley, Andrew M. (1988). The Irish Americans: The Rise to Money and Power. New York: Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0446385589
  • Kenny, Kevin. (2000). The American Irish: A History. New York: Longman. ISBN 058227818X
  • Marlin, George J. (2004). The American Catholic Voter: Two-Hundred Years of Public Impact. New York: St. Augustine's Press. ISBN 1587310236
  • Potter, George W. (1960). To the Golden Door: The Story of the Irish in Ireland and America. New York: Greenwood Press.
  • Prendergast, William B. (1999). The Catholic Voter in American Politics: The Passing of the Democratic Monolith. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. ISBN 0878407243
  • Roberts, Gary Boyd; Otto, Julie Helen (1995). Ancestors of American Presidents: First Authoritative Edition. Boston: Boyer 3rd. ISBN 0936124199
  • Ruckenstein, Lelia; O'Malley, James A. (2003). Everything Irish: The History, Literature, Art, Music, People, and Place. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 034546110X
  • Utley, Robert M. (1989). Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0803295588
  • Wallis, Michael (2007). Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride. New York: W. W. Norton. ISBN 0393060683

Further reading

General surveys

  • Fanning, Charles (1990/2000). The Irish Voice in America: 250 Years of Irish-American Fiction. Lexington: The University of Kentucky Press. ISBN 0813109701
  • Glazier, Michael, ed. (1999). The Encyclopedia of the Irish in America. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. ISBN 0268027552
  • Meagher, Timothy J. (2005). The Columbia Guide to Irish American History. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231120708
  • Miller, Kerby M. (1985). Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195051874
  • Negra, Diane (ed.) (2006). The Irish in Us. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. ISBN 0822337401
  • Quinlan, Kieran (2005). Strange Kin: Ireland and the American South. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 9780807129838
  • Merryweather (nee Green), Kath (2009). The Irish Rossiter: Ancestors and Their World Wide Descendents and Connections. Bristol UK: Irishancestors4u. ISBN 9780956297600

Catholic Irish

  • Anbinder, Tyler (2002). Five Points: The Nineteenth-Century New York City Neighborhood That Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections and Became the World's Most Notorious Slum. New York: Plume ISBN 0452283612
  • Bayor, Ronald; Meagher, Timothy (eds.) (1997) The New York Irish. Baltimore: University of Johns Hopkins Press. ISBN 0801857643
  • Blessing, Patrick J. (1992). The Irish in America: A Guide to the Literature and the Manuscript Editions. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press. ISBN 0813207312
  • Clark, Dennis. (1982). The Irish in Philadelphia: Ten Generations of Urban Experience (2nd Ed.). Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 0877222274
  • Diner, Hasia R. (1983). Erin's Daughters in America: Irish Immigrant Women in the Nineteenth Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801828724
  • English, T. J. (2005). Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster. New York: ReganBooks. ISBN 0060590025
  • Erie, Steven P. (1988). Rainbow's End: Irish-Americans and the Dilemmas of Urban Machine Politics, 1840—1985. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. ISBN 0520071832
  • Ignatiev, Noel (1996). How the Irish Became White. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415918251
  • McCaffrey, Lawrence J. (1976). The Irish Diaspora in America. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America ISBN 0813208963
  • Meagher, Timothy J. (2000). Inventing Irish America: Generation, Class, and Ethnic Identity in a New England City, 1880-1928. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. ISBN 0268031541
  • Mitchell, Brian C. (2006). The Paddy Camps: The Irish of Lowell, 1821–61. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 025207338X
  • Mulrooney, Margaret M. (ed.) (2003). Fleeing the Famine: North America and Irish Refugees, 1845–1851. New York: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 027597670X
  • Noble, Dale T. (1986). Paddy and the Republic: Ethnicity and Nationality in Antebellum America. Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 0819561673
  • O'Connor, Thomas H. (1995). The Boston Irish: A Political History. Old Saybrook, CT: Konecky & Konecky. ISBN 9781568526201
  • O'Donnell, L. A. (1997). Irish Voice and Organized Labor in America: A Biographical Study. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press.

Protestant Irish

  • Blethen, Tyler; Wood, Curtis W. Jr.; Blethen, H. Tyler (Eds.) (1997). Ulster and North America: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Scotch-Irish. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 0817308237
  • Bolton, Charles Knowles (2006). Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing Company. ISBN 1428614877
  • Cunningham, Roger (1991). Apples on the Flood: Minority Discourse and Appalachia. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 0870496298
  • Fischer, David Hackett (1991). Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York: Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 0195069056
  • Griffin, Patrick (2001). The People with No Name: Ireland's Ulster Scots, America's Scots Irish, and the Creation of a British Atlantic World, 1689–1764. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691074623
  • Ford, Henry Jones (1915/2006). The Scotch-Irish in America. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing Company. ISBN 0548646953
  • Leyburn, James G. (1989). The Scotch-Irish: A Social History. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0807842591
  • Lorle, Porter (1999). A People Set Apart: The Scotch-Irish in Eastern Ohio. Zanesville, OH: Equine Graphics Publishing. ISBN 1887932755
  • McWhiney, Grady (1988). Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 0817303286
  • Webb, James (2004). Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. New York: Broadway. ISBN 0767916883

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