Irish Immigrants in the United States

Irish immigrant worker
Irish immigrants like James Donovan, a 17-year-old factory worker, came to America for a better life.

The Emerald Isle. Eire. Ireland. March is Irish American Heritage month, and on March 17th, we celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day! Saint Patrick’s Day is a fun day to celebrate the Irish culture and wear green, but it’s also a day to honor the ways Irish Americans have helped our country.

Can you believe that the United States has about five times more Irish people than Ireland itself? This is due to a large migration [movement of people] many years ago. In 1845, a great famine struck the country of Ireland. A famine happens when there isn’t enough food for people to eat. So, millions of Irish came to the United States. Back then, the Irish seemed very different from the Americans. They had a different religion and a different culture. Many Americans looked down upon the immigrants.

At the same time, the United States was looking for workers. Many factories were opening and people were needed to run the machines. This was difficult, unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous work. The Irish immigrants didn’t have much choice, so they took the jobs.  Some were hired to mine coal. This coal was used to run the factories. All the goods the Irish helped produce helped the United States’ economy grow.

Since then, Irish American culture has become accepted in the U.S. Irish Americans can do any job they please, and several presidents have claimed Irish heritage. The Irish have helped shape our country today, and so, we celebrate them!

What Do You Think? How can we honor the successes of a culture?

Photo Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, [LC-DIG-nclc-05054]