When I was young, there was a Disney movie called The Happiest Millionaire, about the union of two old-stock American families, the Biddles of Philadelphia and the Dukes of South Carolina, based on Cordelia Drexel Biddle's memoir My Philadelphia Father. I wrote this up in a post called Disney On Irish Immigration—YouTube For St. Patrick's Day.
The Irish character of John Lawless (played by Englishman Tommy Steele) was apparently added to give color.
Below, Steele declares he'll always be "as Irish as Irish stew" but "truly as American as Casey At The Bat."
This is the harmless, lovable version of Irish immigrant history, and there's some truth to that, although anyone who thinks that Mexican immigrants are going to turn into Bing Crosby should give their head a shake, but there's another side to the same history, in Scorsese's Gangs of New York, where the Irish-American Amsterdam Vallon (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) says
“Everyday there are more of us coming, streaming off the ships… I hear fifteen thousand Irish a week into New York alone, and we’re afraid of the Natives? Put all of us together, and we’re not a gang, we’re an army. All our people need is one spark to wake them up.
One of the earliest things I wrote for the site was a piece called The Camp Of St. Patrick [March 17, 2001], pointing out how much like the Camp Of The Saints the Famine Irish exodus was for the receiving countries in North America.
There are memorials in various places (like Grosse Île, Quebec) to the dead, who didn't die of famine, but of cholera, which they brought with them. Wikipedia's article on cholera outbreaks and pandemics says
Cholera hit Ireland in 1849 and killed many of the Irish Famine survivors, already weakened by starvation and fever. In 1849, cholera claimed 5,308 lives in the major port city of Liverpool, England, an embarkation point for immigrants to North America, and 1,834 in Hull, England. An outbreak in North America took the life of former U.S. President James K. Polk. Cholera, believed spread from Irish immigrant ship(s) from England, spread throughout the Mississippi river system, killing over 4,500 in St. Louis and over 3,000 in New Orleans. Thousands died in New York, a major destination for Irish immigrants.
However, the survivors became part of America's white majority. (They fought on both sides of the Civil War.) In Alien Nation, VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow mentioned 19th century anti-cheap labor activist Denis Kearney (right), who fought Chinese immigration.
Brimelow wrote “[A]n Irish immigrant, Dennis Kearney, was a leader of the agitation that halted Chinese immigration into California. (His—probably mythical—slogan: 'Americay for Americans, Begorrah!')”
The Irish in America are part of the American nation, but still in their own way.
In spite of our site's Anglo-Saxon roots, we wish the Irish well, and some of them even wish us well.
Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone, and here's what we've written about St. Patrick's Day past March 17ths.