Mar 29 2010

Irish Prejudice in America

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When the Irish first came to America people were very weary of them. These anti Irish feeling are called Hibernophobia.  The potato famine forced many people out of Ireland. 1847 was the first year of great famine migration out of Ireland though the tragedy started in 1845. Potato blight was wiping crops out in Ireland and leaving thousands to starve to death. From the years 1845-1852 a million people died in Ireland and another million migrated to America. This dropped Irelands population nearly 25%. To escape death many people’s only option was to go to America where supposedly the streets were paved with gold and any hard working man could find a job. But as many found this was not the case at all. As soon as they got off the boat there were people waiting to take advantage of them after an already life threatening journey. People would often sell them fake tickets for trains or lure them into poor housing with sometimes hundreds of irish cramped into a home and the backyard. Many irish who knew the ropes or those who could fake an accent would pretend to befriend them and then take advantage of the strong sense of community that was at home in Ireland. When jobs were found they were the lowest paid unskilled undesireable jobs around with horrible working conditions.Men were hired for low-paying, physically demanding and dangerous work. Wages for unskilled jobs during the 1840s were under 75 cents a day for working half the day.  The men built canals, railroads, streets, houses and sewer systems. Many others worked on the docks or canals.Irish women, also had low-paying unskilled jobs. There were two main types of work available for Irish women servants or factory work. It was common for a woman to cook and clean for sixteen hours or more. As more and more irish came to America discrimination became an issue. Irish kept on flooding on in and tensions grew over jobs. As the workforce became more readily available wages could be lowered and people felt a threat to their jobs(just like mexican immigrants today). Also Americans felt that the increased number of people would mean taxes would rise due to additional needs for police, fire, health, sanitation, schools and poorhouses. People began to prejudice the irish and it began to become socially acceptable. Newspapers began publishing political cartoons showing  irish as drunken, dirty, stupid and lazy. Newspapers often added to this stereotype by drawing Irishmen as looking like apes with a big jaw and an enlarged forehead. Newspapers also wrote about Irish people using the term of “Paddy”  to show the “typical” irishman. As everyone began hating on the irish stores would put up signs saying “no irish need apply” or lower the pay for the irish workers and if they protested the local officials would be called in and they would be forced to accept or take no work at all.this is a political cartoon reflecting the belief irish could not blend into Akmerica’s melting pot.


The NINA signs are reflected in this poem written by a man who imigrated to America.


I’m a decent boy just landed
From the town of Ballyfad;
I want a situation, yes,
And want it very bad.
I have seen employment advertised,
“It’s just the thing,” says I,
“But the dirty spalpeen ended with
‘No Irish Need Apply.’ ”

“Whoa,” says I, “that’s an insult,
But to get the place I’ll try,”
So I went to see the blackguard
With his “No Irish Need Apply.”
Some do count it a misfortune
To be christened Pat or Dan,
But to me it is an honor
To be born an Irishman.
I started out to find the house,
I got it mighty soon;
There I found the old chap seated,
He was reading the tribune.
I told him what I came for,
When he in a rage did fly,
“No!” he says, “You are a Paddy,
And no Irish need apply.”

Then I gets my dander rising
And I’d like to black his eye
To tell an Irish gentleman
“No Irish Need Apply.”
Some do count it a misfortune
To be christened Pat or Dan,
But to me it is an honor
To be born an Irishman.

I couldn’t stand it longer
So a hold of him I took,
And gave him such a welting
As he’d get at Donnybrook.
He hollered, “Milia murther,”
And to get away did try,
And swore he’d never write again
“No Irish Need Apply.”

Well he made a big apology,
I told him then goodbye,
Saying, “When next you want a beating,
Write ‘No Irish Need Apply.’ ”
Some do count it a misfortune
To be christened Pat or Dan,
But to me it is an honor
To be born an Irishman.

This is a news paper article with No Irish Need Apply in it.


 I am glad today that I do not have to deal with the prejudices my ancestors did. Sure now and then I get made fun of for bein a redhead but it’s all in good fun.  Besides that I’m pretty sure a good portion of Americans have at least a little Irish in their blood. So if you want to hate the Irish you hate America

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