Happy St. Patrick's Day. Yes tomorrow is a day for all of us of Irish heritage to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland and also reflect on the important contributions the Irish have made and continue to make in the United States of America.
The Irish in America have come a long way since the large scale waves of Irish entered "the new world" in the 1850's and 60's. These poor people, fleeing their homeland due to the
potato famine and hoping for a new start in a growing country in need of their labor. It's easy a century plus to romanticize the experiences of the Irish emigrating to a new country, however it surely was difficult and at times dangerous for them.
The Irish-Americans have contributed to most military campaigns in our history. Here in New York, the Irish helped build the railways, tunnels, and bridges that form our region's vital circulatory system. The Irish have made important contributions in politics and on of our own achieved the highest office, the Presidency in 1960. (Note to self: JFK a future post! Please see my post titled Camelot from last November! http://comments4today.blogspot.com/2013/11/camelot.html)
The Irish-American immigration experience was probably no different than those people coming from non-English speaking countries today. Certainly they share many commonalities: hard work, love of family and to their church.
I have always wanted to complete a genealogy for both my mother and father's side of the family. The internet has been helpful with online census records in addition to other records. I've been lucky having found census records showing my grandfather on my mother's side listed close to 100 years ago. I've also was fortunate to have found a great blog: http://currach.johnjtierney.com/ I marveled that Mr. Tierney researched and found a picture of his great-grandfather, who was a New York City police officer at the turn of the last century. I found that so cool, since both my grandfathers were NYC officers too. Follow him on Twitter @JJT and check out his blog.
He's since offered me tips towards my own family history and he also gave me a link to an Irish Soda Break recipe:
Well whatever your background is, this weekend your Irish. Let this St. Patrick's Day put you in a festive mood and thankful for the contributions your ancestors have made and be sure to toast one to them.