Irish-American people make up almost eleven percent of the population of the United States as of the last census, with Scotch-Irish-Americans taking up another percent. That's an extremely high amount – they only fall behind German-Americans, at 17.1 percent. (However, the last census was misguiding, as many English-Americans identified under the new “American” category, causing a serious underrepresentation of Anglo-Saxons as a nationality. English-American is still considered the most common nationality in the U.S.A.).
Irish immigrants were drawn to the U.S.A in the colonial era (1700 to around 1850) for the same reasons as immigrants of other backgrounds – the promise of general freedom and opportunity that many other countries did not provide. They were also historically mistreated by the British since the 16th century, as they had been essentially in control of Ireland since the late 1200s. A huge amount of resentment in the Gaelic people resulted from heavily biased land ownership laws which redistributed land from the Irish to the English after the Rebellion of 1641, and “Inequitable Laws” which attempted to force Roman Catholics to accept the new practices of the Anglican Church.
Roughly 250,000 Irish emigrated to America before the Revolutionary war; and in the war itself, Irish men made up a huge portion of the Continental Army. The disproportionate representation is often attributed to the first-generation immigrants retaining some or all of their original resentment towards England. After the revolution, Gaelic immigration slowly declined until the Great Irish Famine of 1845.
The Great Famine is one of the most famous mass starvations in human history. A potato blight (a disease now known as Phytophthora Infestans or HERB-1) devastated the potato crop, which almost forty percent of the Irish population relied on as their single source of nourishment. One third of the potato crop was completely destroyed in 1845, and three quarters in 1846. British reaction to this, as sovereign rulers of Ireland, was decidedly poor, as most of the aid money requisitioned from other countries was put into Irish public work projects. This created far more jobs in Ireland and helped the economy, but generally failed to alleviate the starvation. Most non-potato crops were exported and despite the number of new jobs created, food had become become extremely expensive.
As a result of the famine, almost two million Irish people became American immigrants before 1860. The population of Ireland decreased by almost twenty-five percent from deaths and emigration during this period. In the hasty exodus from their home country, many people died in the overcrowded vessels bound for America (many of which are now know as “coffin ships” for this reason).
Most Irish immigrants arrived at either Ellis Island in New York, and many continued on to the East Boston Immigration Station in Boston, Massachusetts. At Ellis Island, immigrants were required to pass through the Immigrant Inspection Station, a series of checks and tests that took from two to five hours to complete. A part of this test was the twenty-nine questions, used to identify and separate immigrants; they consisted of name, occupation, amount of money, and nationality. It was crucial that immigrants could support themselves and not become a burden of the state in the near future.
Although some immigrants were turned around, many sources suggest that less Irish people were turned back at Ellis Island than Italians or Europeans of other descents. Reasons for this have been speculated as sympathy for the Irish famine (workers would not desire to send an immigrant back to a starving country), or subconscious racial profiling.
released February 20, 2016
bonald - vox, banjo, drums, keys, samplin', noise, electric-style guitar, drum machine, tribal chanting
chungisman - noise, vox, electricesque guitar, drums, pueblo, jesus, ambience, soundscapes, guitar smashing, synth, grasshopper
eggs - faith, half a canyon
twenny - encouragement, 12-string shaker
all rights reserved