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The Irish Americans: A History

6 Ratings: 2.2
2008 non-fiction book by Jay P. Dolan

A history of the Irish in America from the eighteenth century to the present, by one of the nation's most eminent scholars of the immigrant experience. Jay Dolan of the University of Notre Dame is one of America's most acclaimed scholars of immigration … see full wiki

Author: Jay P. Dolan
Genre: non-fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury Press
Date Published: October 28, 2008
1 review about The Irish Americans: A History

The Irish were uniquely positioned to finally succeed in America.

  • Mar 6, 2010
Rating:
+2
You may be surprised to learn that people from Ireland have been emigrating to our shores since the 17th century.  They came for a variety of reasons.  Some sought the political and religious freedom that was the promise of the New World.  Most, however, came to the United States to escape the ravages of famine in their own land.  The overwhelming majority of these people entered the United States with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.  But quite remarkably these humble folks would ultimately overcome most of these obstacles and assume their rightful place in these United States.  Author Jay Dolan of the University of Notre Dame has spent a lifetime studying these matters and has come up with a spendid book.  "The Irish Americans: A History" chronicles the colorful history of the Irish in America.  It is indeed a compelling story and the first general reader's history to be published about this subject in more than four decades.

For those like myself who grew up in an Irish Catholic parish the story told by Jay Dolan is a very familiar one.  For poor Irish Catholics who arrived here during the time of the Great Famine and beyond the center of their world was the neighborhood parish.  In those days Catholic parishes offered not only the opportunity to worship God at Mass on Sunday but also educated the children, provided assistance in finding employment and offered numerous opportunities to socialize with friends and neighbors.  Dolan also points out that another "institution" that was extremely important to these folks was the local pub.  Again, here was a place to gather, enjoy each others company and catch up on all the latest scuttlebutt.  Dolan also explains why so many Irish were natural born leaders and acknowledges that because they did not face the language barrier that many other European immigrants had to overcome these folks were able to climb to positions of prominence much more quickly.  Dolan goes on to point out: "The Irish arrived in large numbers just when American party politics was taking off. In the mid-nineteenth century when scores of Irish were arriving, modern city governments were beginning to take shape. This enabled the Irish to gain many of the new jobs created as cities formed police and fire departments. This was also a time when the political machine emerged."  The fact of the matter is that the Irish certainly knew how to take care of their own.  In addition, Dolan devotes a considerable amount of time to the enormous impact that Irish Americans had on the American labor movement and to the long and violent history of the Irish republican movement back home that sought to gain Irish independence from England.  Having some grasp of what was going on back in the homeland is absolutely essential to an understanding of what was happening with the Irish here in America.

Over the next one hundred years Irish Americans would continue to gain in stature culminating with the election of John F. Kennedy as President of the United States in 1960. "The Irish Americans: A History" is a comprehensive look at the rise of the Irish in America. This is a well-written and carefully documented book.    Recommended.
The Irish were uniquely positioned to finally succeed in America. The Irish were uniquely positioned to finally succeed in America. The Irish were uniquely positioned to finally succeed in America. The Irish were uniquely positioned to finally succeed in America.

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June 14, 2010
This sounds extremely informative. I know a couple of my relatives would be interested in reading this and I will definitely share your review with them. Thanks!
 
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