You'd be forgiven for not thinking of Seattle as an "Irish city," but that may be because, as John F. Keane notes in the Introduction to this little book, the Irish in Seattle tended not to congregate in the kinds of well-defined ethnic enclaves that still define parts of Boston or New York. But if you look at some of the formative names in Seattle and western Washington history -- like Burke, Denny, McRedmond (he dropped the "Mc" from the town he named after himself), and O'Dea -- you can begin to see the influence Irish immigrants and first-generation Irish-Americans have had in the Emerald City.
Keane has done a fine job charting that influence, from those early days through a whole host of politicians, policemen, entertainers, priests, and business and civic leaders over the decades (including Jim Casey, founder of UPS). Unlike some of the other local-themed books in the "Images of America" series, "Irish America" isn't about architecture or neighborhood development, and so most of the photos tend to be interesting family portraits or historic or journalistic images from a variety of sources. (He also reproduces a page from the P-I reporting Eamon de Valera's 1919 fundraising trip with a wonderful headline announcing the visit of the "Head of So-Called 'Irish Republic'" to Seattle.) And he continues his story up to the present day, noting that Seattle's US Congressman, both our senators, and even our alleged governor can all claim Irish heritage. We may not all be aware of the Hibernian influence in the history of Seattle, but browsing through John Keane's book is a fairly interesting way to discover it.
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Andrew S. Rogers (Cascadian)
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The Puget Sound area has been greatly influenced by the Irish, and while many of the names and events are familiar, until now, their Irish connections were rarely acknowledged. Judge Thomas Burke, The Man who Built Seattle, had Irish parents. So did Washington's second governor, John Harte McGraw. John Collins, who left Ireland at the tender age of 10 to seek his fame and fortune, became Seattle's fourth mayor. The Mercer Girls' included Irish women who came west to Seattle. This fascinating retrospective pays tribute to the first- and second-generation Irish who lived in the Puget Sound region over the past 150 years and who contributed to Seattle's growth. In more than 200 photographs and illustrations, this book chronicles the contributions of the Irish to an area whose landscape and climate reminded them of home.