Has The Latest Irish American Generation Lost Touch With Their Roots?

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More than 10% of the Americans trace their ancestry to Ireland through their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Over the years, the American population referred to them as “Irish” with the Pure Irish in Ireland considering them “Americans.” They managed to keep their strong culture in their host nation with some of the practices existing to date. The following aspects explain how the latest generation has lost touch with their roots.

Irish Cuisine

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Image Source: Gimme some oven

The crops that grew in Ireland and the animals kept in the temperate climate mostly influenced the traditional Irish cuisine. Potatoes were introduced to Ireland in the 16th century, and since then, the Irish community loved them and made them the staple food. Most of the traditional Irish dishes contained potatoes. They would also cook the Irish stew, boxty, colcannon, coddle, bacon and cabbage among many delicacies.

In the modern time, the Irish Americans have adopted modern cuisines and assimilated some to their traditional foods. They have also changed some of their ingredients to suit the availability. For instance, the Irish American stew uses beef as opposed to Mutton. Among the foreign cuisines that you can find in a modern Irish family, include pizza, Chinese food, curry, Thai food, among others.

Marriage And Family

The traditional family unit and marriage customs of the Irish are on the decline. With most of the ancient Irish families professing the Catholic faith, it was common to get married at an earlier age than it is happening today. Traditionally, the typical Irish Americans maintained stable marriages with minimal divorce cases that were in most instances not acceptable. Currently, divorce and single parent families are gaining widespread acceptance from the Irish Americans.

With stable family structures, it was hard to find children born out of wedlock, which now is on the rise in the modern Irish American Society. When it comes to the size of the families, the conservative Irish Americans kept large families especially those that professed the Catholic faith. The trend has diminished over time, as people are keen to keep families that they can support without the struggle.

The Decline Of The Catholic Schools

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Saint Monica Academy, a catholic school-Image Source: Courtesy of St Monica Academy

When the Irish community arrived in America, they were uneducated and lacked basic training. However, they had to start educating their children so that they can fit in the new world. Since most of the other immigrants were Catholics, they wanted to exempt their children from prejudice by the established Protestant immigrants. It was, therefore, hard to find an Irish neighborhood without a school or perhaps several of them taught by the Catholic nuns and brothers.

However, by the mid-20th century, the Catholic schools had grown to all parts of the nation raising an economic challenge to the people that managed them. Also, the decrease in the vocation centers left many schools without adequate teaching staff. With the eventual secularization of the public schools, there was no threat to the Catholics and hence reduced the tension that existed between the Catholics and the Protestants.

Music And Dance

When the Irish people came into America, they loved playing the jig and reel dance. Being a cultural treasure, the dance was passed on from one generation to the other through regular festivals and annual commemorations.

Having moved to a multiracial society, it was hard to keep the jig in its raw Irish form. Their children have taken foreign influence that hampers full recognition of some of their customs. Unlike the ancient times where most people trained the jig voluntarily, the modern generations claim to have been forced to prepare the dance by their parents at young age.

Farming Culture

Irish Potato Famine
Image Source: Morris Parks

Before the British invaded Ireland, a majority of the Irish people practiced agriculture as a primary source of livelihood. The reliance on agriculture led to the loss of more than one million people during the great potato famine.

Having suffered other economic, religious, and political injustices from the colonial masters, they moved to the “New World” for a better life. They were not ready to practice farming owing to the uncertainties they faced at home. Most enrolled for both manual and technical jobs and later occupied top posts in the government and private sector. Their farming culture has apparently gone with time.

The Diminishing Drinking Culture

When it comes to leisure and social activities, it is hard to talk about the Irish without mentioning their vibrant drinking culture. At some point, the Native Americans stereotyped all Irish immigrants as drunkards, and it was done through cartoons and posters. Back in Ireland, the nation leads in many fronts of alcohol consumption, binge drinking, and associated effects.

Just like anyone else living and working in America, it is hard for the Irish Americans to get too much time to engage in social drinking extensively. Also, the increased campaigns against alcohol consumption have yielded positive results as the drinking culture has gone down. Identifying an Irish American based the drinking culture is hard.

Low Church Attendance

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Image Source: Courtesy of Amy Proctor

During the ancient times, Ireland was highly regarded as a religious nation owing to the strong commitment they showed to religious practice. Although some were Protestants, Catholics were the majority. If you were raised in the traditional Irish-American family, you knew there was no debate when it came to church attendance. Recently, research conducted in 1998 showed a decline in church attendance from 87% to 60%.

Christmas Holiday celebrations

In the Irish culture, Christmas was a significant event. The festivities would start early, lasting for over two weeks. During Christmas period, people washed the old farm buildings using white paint or lime in readiness to receive the newborn Jesus Christ. Social activities characterized the period, and many businesses closed the operations for the two weeks period.

Today, it is almost impossible for the families to adhere to all these customs. There are close to no old farmhouses in the urban areas for the great “whitewashing” activities. Most of the businesses only close for two days with some keeping few staffs during the Christmas day.

The Decline Of New Irish Immigration

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Image Source: Scholastic

After the second migration, some Irish immigrants into America went down. Prohibitive immigration rules were enacted reducing the number of immigrants. Most of the immigrants accommodated aspects of the American culture. With better living condition and a prosperous Irish population in Ireland, there are no push factors for people to migrate unless for other reasons.

Friendly Environment For The Irish Americans

When the Irish people arrived in America, the poor, uneducated Catholics were discriminated. They lived in filthy slums where the house owners exploited them. They were also discriminated in fields of employment where they could not access the public jobs and well-paying ones. The formation of labor organizations saw to an end of the widespread discrimination and ensured equal treatment not only for the Irish immigrants but also for other groups.


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