Discovery Assignment - Final Project
In general, the Irish population comprises of a
large percentage of the modern American population because of the long
history that this particular nationality has had with immigrating and
descending from ancestors when the United States of America had broken
from English rule. Specifically, the focus of Irish immigrants for this
purpose is on the people who came during the later colonial wave of
1700 to around 1775. With a population of about a quarter million
coming to the colonies during this wave, they left an immense influence
on the American culture and economy by means of contributing to
America’s diversity, customs, and language.
Irish Immigration of the 1700’s and its Influence on America’s Culture / Economy
Irish Shamrock. Image. Squid and Whale Image Collection. <http://squidandwhale.com/images/icon_large/irish_shamrock.jpg>.
America is commonly referred to as a “melting
pot” of the world in which many nationalities and ethnicities are
prevalent in the American society. The presence of Irish nationality in
the U.S. initially started during the immigrant wave of the
1700’s with Irish Protestants and Catholics (McCormack). Not only did
this wave bring another nationality to the English mix that was in the
colonies, but also this wave brought religious diversity, too.
Originally the English Protestants were the travelers who settled the
colonies, but with this wave both Irish Protestants and Catholics came
over and spiced things up. By looking at American ancestry even in
modern day, 34 million claim Irish ancestry in which there are three
states: NH, DE, MA that have more people who have Irish ancestry than
any other nationality (Irish-American). Information from the History News
Network about Irish ancestry goes into more depth explaining how Irish
ancestry is so prevalent, including regards to religious diversity:
Huge numbers of Irish immigrants
came to America in the colonial period (…30 percent …
arriving between 1700 and 1820 came from Ireland) and the great
majority of them were
Presbyterians from Ulster. Of the
many thousands of Catholics who came in the 17th and 18th centuries,
most appear to have converted to some form of Protestantism. The
multiplying ever since. In contrast, the great migration of Irish
Catholics began only in the 1830s (during which time… the
Protestant Irish continued to come)
With such a high Irish Protestant and Catholic presence in American
society, along with the diversity, they brought some of their customs
into American culture too.
Probably the most significant and well-known custom
that has been brought to American culture through means of the Irish
population is the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Though St.
Patrick was an important figure in Irish history and was honored on
March 17, the customs involving parades and large celebrations were
created here in the U.S. (Myths) With the founding of the Charitable
Irish Society in 1737, Irish immigrants made a larger deal out of
celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with commemorations and parties,
but it was not until 1762 when the first parade began (Myths and St.
Patrick’s). This aspect alone of Irish-American culture has had a
big economic impact as well. With each yearly celebration of the
holiday, many consumers spend money on cabbage and bacon (traditional
Irish food), beer, and decorations such as shamrocks, dyed
chrysanthemums, etc. which brings in millions of dollars (St.
Patrick’s). This holiday further influenced American culture
through the symbolism in the holiday. Four-leaf clovers, leprechauns,
rainbows, pots of gold - all of these are Irish symbols brought into
American culture, generally shown on St. Patrick’s Day to
indicated good luck, wealth, and prosperity (Myths).
Lastly, the Irish influenced American culture by
means of the Gaelic and Celtic languages. In the 1700 wave of Irish
immigrants, many of them set up their own communities of which allowed
them to continue speaking those languages which in some parts of
Ireland and England they were forbidden (Schneider) This allowed the Gaelic
and Celtic languages to be preserved rather than dying out. Also, by
looking at many of the surnames in American society such as MacDonald
or McCooly the prefix “Mac” or “Mc” are Gaelic
contractions that indicate ‘the son of …’ (Myths).
Another aspect of those languages that was incorporated into American
culture was the “O” as in O’Reilly meaning grandson
in Gaelic, but it was misinterpreted to mean the word “of”
in American society (Myths).
The Irish immigration wave of the 1700’s
introduced many things to American culture and left lasting effects on
the economy simply because they were the first main Irish group to come
to the colonies and be given that opportunity. They brought national
and religious diversity, customs and celebrations that affected both
the culture and economy, and also the Gaelic and Celtic languages that
explains many of the spellings in modern American names. Of course
these influences are not simply attributed to this immigrant wave
alone, but it essentially started here