9 Signs of Discrimination Irish Americans Had To Put Up With

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The Courageous Irish Community: Bearing The Hatred Of A Racist America

The Irish American people faced much prejudice, racism and discrimination after their immigration to the United States because they were poor, uneducated, less skilled, considered disruptive and were Catholics in a land of Protestant dominance.

At the hands of the citizens, the Irish-Americans faced stereotypes that associated men with drunkenness and laziness, and their women depicted as primitive.

Having faced perhaps much prejudice in their motherland, it only worked to unite them for a common course- prosperity in all fields. They lived in Irish neighborhoods and established schools to improve access to education for their children. The ways in which the discrimination against the Irish immigrants occurred include:

Humiliating Slogans: No Irish Need Apply


Image Source: Flickr

Irish-Americans faced a humiliating job discrimination journey, owing to their quick domination of the labor market. For this reason, they had to put up with placards that contained discriminatory quits such as ‘’Help wanted but No Irish need Apply’’. Some of these slogans were published in local diaries with images of Irish women searching for domestic jobs. Also, a ’No Irish Need Apply’’ song was written to exact further humiliation to the new immigrants.

The Unfair Migration Restrictions

Image Source: Open Borders

With Anti-Irish attitude dominating most of the British American states in 17th century, most colonies enacted laws that barred Irish Immigrants from the new entry in the states. For instance, Maryland legislature passed a law placing a tax of twenty shillings on Irish servants.

Subsequently South Carolina enacted legislation that forbade entry of the Irish, while Pennsylvania adopted a law that taxed the importation of Irish servants. The laws served to deprive the Irish of employment opportunities that their counterpart established immigrants could. It only served to remind them of the harsh penal laws enacted by the British in their home country.

Discrimination Against Irish Women

Irish Women were depicted as Ape-like-Image Source: The society pages

The Irish American bias was dependent on gender. The Irish women were stereotyped as reckless ‘‘breeders’’ owing to the large family sizes compared to those of the Protestants. The American Protestants feared the high birth rates shown by the Catholics would ultimately result in Protestant minority. They also feared that Irish political takeovers could occur, and Catholicism would become the dominant faith.

The Aggressive Use Of Cartoons

Image Source: Wikimedia

In the field of politics, the immigrants knew they had to make a voice to improve their living conditions and access to education and employment opportunities. With a strong social organization background, they formed a formidable voting block that often determined the winning candidates.

The establishment countered their influence through cartoons that were meant to paint a demeaning picture of the Irish Americans. Some of the famous figures used included ‘The Workingman’s Burden’ and the ‘Two Forces’.

The Stupid Social Stereotypes 

The pressures of being at the bottom of society brought the worst among the Irish. With the Irish Catholics considered illiterate and conservative, the native Protestants took long to treat them as equals in all fields. It was evident through the cartoon stereotypes that depicted the Irish men as drunkards.

The press derided them as aliens who were undisputedly loyal to their Catholic Leaders instead of having allegiance to America. In addition, the established immigrants developed stereotypes that branded them as lazy and reckless in the way they conducted their affairs.

Intolerance Against Irish Catholicism

Irish immigrants in Kansas-Image Source: Wikiwand

Groups of Protestants burned down a Catholic Convent in Boston. In Philadelphia, mobs of Protestants rioted against the Irish Catholics. At some point, the Irish ganged up and fought back in a fight that regularly recanted for three years.

The battle resulted in massive destruction of Irish Immigrants homes and property, burning Catholic churches and massive loss of lives of the immigrant community. For this reason, the Catholics established their schools to educate their children and promote their faith without interference.

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The Poor Housing Conditions

With most of the migrants settling in the urban areas, access to housing was a common challenge.

For instance, those that settled in Boston had to pay an exorbitant weekly rent of $1.5 for single-roomed houses that were poorly maintained. Their plea for improved housing conditions hit deaf ears of the property owners that considered the migrants and hence owed them no obligation for a better life. Other than the house size, the rooms lacked proper sanitation, ventilation with states doing little to save the situation.

Related Content: Why Expats/Immigrants Are the Driving Force Of Today’s Global Economy

The Unrelenting Prejudice In The Workplace


Image Source: the Guardian

Soon after arrival, the job market was saturated with semi-skilled and unskilled labor that threatened the American community. With major employers preferring the immigrant workers, a rivalry ensued between the Irish immigrants and the Americans.

With the Irish ready to work for lower wages than the established immigrants, they filled up most of the manual job opportunities resulting in NINA signs throughout cities. The local employers considered the immigrants disposable labor and mainly used them in handling hazardous tasks.

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The Name Calling By Prominent Personalities

One of the major ways that Irish people were discriminated against was through quotes made by influential leaders and often went unpunished. For instance, in 1981 Dr. Ian Kyle Paisley was quoted saying “Our ancestors cut a civilization out of the bogs and meadows of his county while the ancestors of the Irish people were wearing pig skins and they lived in caves.” Despite the presence of a Race Relations Act Paisley was not charged.

Most faced terrible discrimination upon arrival, but Irish Americans have been fighting for the US, since before it was a country.

Posted by XpatNation on Wednesday, December 2, 2015

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