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Encyclopedia > Irish Americans

Irish Americans are residents or citizens of the United States who claim Irish ancestry. The term may be used in subtle distinction with Scotch-Irish, in order to distance that group from Irish connotations, but many Scotch-Irish also consider themselves Irish American. Irish Americans currently make up roughly 10% of all Americans.


Many Irish settlers moved to America during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, and particularly during the Irish potato famine which forced large numbers of poor Irish to leave their land. Their descendants often retain a strong sense of their Irish heritage.


Irish Americans are found throughout the United States, although they are generally associated with the metropolitan areas of New York, Boston, and Chicago, where most new arrivals of the 1800s and early 1900s settled. As a percentage of the population, the most Irish American town in the United States is Milton, Massachusetts, with 43% of its residents being of Irish descent. Regionally, the most Irish-American part of the country remains northern and central New England.


Common stereotypes of Irish-Americans include perceptions of Irish-Americans as being more prone to alcoholism and as having shorter tempers than other ethnic groups (Witness the idiom: "To get one's Irish up"). Prejudice against Irish-Americans was originally once very strong within American culture, reaching a peak in the 19th century; many employers would ward off Irish jobseekers by posting signs reading "No Irish Need Apply". Other 19th century stereotypes of the Irish included views of them as being violent and prone to crime.


In American popular culture, it is common to fictionally portray police officers and firefighters as being Irish-American, stemming from the group's disproportionate involvement in the nation's civil-service departments; to the present-day, 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. The Irish American way of life has also been chronicled in the modern media, most notably in movies such as The Brothers McMullen and on television in series such as Ryan's Hope.


Saint Patrick's Day is widely celebrated across the United States as a day of celebration of all-things Irish, and faux-Irish. Parades, parties, and other festive events mark the day, and many Americans become voluntarily "Irish for a day" to herald the occasion.


There are more Irish people in New York City than in Dublin, Ireland.


Irish-American Communities

See also

  • List of Ireland-related topics

External Links

  • Ancient Order of Hibernians (http://www.aoh.com)
  • Emerald Society (http://www.nclees.org)
  • Irish Abroad (http://www.irishabroad.com)
  • Irish-American Democrats (http://www.irishamericandemocrats.org)
  • Irish Tribute (http://www.irishtribute.com)

 
 

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