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What is it like to be of Irish descent, the second-largest race in the United States?

The Irish are an independent people with Celtic ancestry

By CopperchaleuPublished 2 years ago 8 min read

The Historical Entanglement of Ireland and Britain

The view that German descent is the number one ethnic group in the United States has been questioned by some netizens. This is because some internet users believe that the number of people of British descent is number one. After all, they count Irish descent among British descent. The total number of people counted in this way would indeed exceed the number of people of German descent.

But this is considered incorrect, but why would anyone go about counting this way? I think it may have been confused by the history of the English having colonized Ireland.

To be clear, the Irish and English ancestors have not been one tribe since the beginning of civilization. Nor were they the same nation 90% of the time, from the time there was a concept of nationhood. They have also never identified as one people since the beginning of nationalism in the modern sense.

The Island of Ireland and the Island of Great Britain

The islands of Ireland and Great Britain are two adjacent and separate, the westernmost in Europe, separated from each other by the Irish Sea. The present-day Irish, who have thrived here for at least 2,600 years, is of Celtic ancestry, one of the four major European ethnic groups. The other three are Latin, Germanic, and Slavic.

In the 12th century A.D., King Henry II led an invasion of Ireland, and from the 16th century, the Irish made Henry VIII their king, but until 1800 A.D., it was at best a British colony.

The island of Ireland and Great Britain became one country in 1801, and British rule over the Irish ended in 1921 when the 26 counties in the south of Ireland became the Free State. Although it was only in 1949 that the southern 26 counties, in addition to the six counties in the north of the island, were legally declared a sovereign state.

The history of these 100 years of incorporation is a history of the oppression of the Irish by the British ruling class and a history of Irish resistance. I won't go into the details of how hard it was for the Irish during those years under British rule, but I will do so in a separate thread at a later date.

In short, the Irish are independent people whose ancestors were Celts. The ancestors of the English are Anglo-Saxons. To be more precise, the English are the descendants of a mixture of Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and a few of the native Celts of the British Isles, who are also of Germanic origin.

Therefore, the present-day Irish are not the same set of people as the English in terms of blood, nationality, or nationalism.

Having said that, some may say that there are Scottish and Welsh descendants in the Anglo-American population, in addition to English descendants. To be clear, the Scots and Welsh are actually of common ancestry with the Irish in terms of lineage, both being Celtic, and they were once the original inhabitants of the British Isles. The ancestors of what is now England were invaders of the British Isles, so there is some historical and ethnic element to moving to a referendum.

Again, some people say that if we go by the modern concept of nations, wouldn't descendants of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland be counted as British? First of all, no one would calculate it this way. The Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish would rather call themselves "British" than "English". In the chart below, "English" and "Scottish" are counted separately, which also shows that people of English descent are counted independently, while people of English descent in the Chinese context refer to people of English descent.

Data Analysis

Even if it is far-fetched to think that English descendants can refer to descendants under the concept of British nationality, there are still not as many as German descendants. According to the latest statistics, English people make up 83.9% of the UK population, Scottish people 8.4%, Welsh people 4.8%, and Northern Irish people 2.9%. The total number of people of Scottish and Welsh descent living in the United States is only about 2%, even if Northern Irish people are also counted, the total number of people is at most the second, and this order of magnitude compared to the Irish is only in between.

Therefore, Irish descendants are the second largest ethnic group in the United States.

Why did the Irish immigrate to the United States? And where did they settle?

In the 1820s, the first wave of European immigrants, the Irish began to immigrate to the United States to survive. The real peak of Irish immigration to the United States was due to a severe famine. After the defeat of the royalists in the English Civil War, Cromwell led troops into Ireland, intensifying the brutal colonization and exploitation of Ireland, the colonists destroyed the basis for the development of Irish industry and divided up most of the arable land to the English bourgeoisie, forcing the Irish to grow high-yielding and cheap potatoes to feed their bellies.

Between 1845 and 1852, Ireland suffered a nationwide outbreak of "potato plague", a late blight (Phytophthora infestans) whose oomycete causes potato rot. The potatoes, on which the Irish depend, have suffered severe reductions in yield, and in many places have even gone out of the harvest.

With 25% of Ireland's arable land under potato cultivation, the famine ultimately had a devastating impact on the Irish. Millions died from the famine, and many more Irish were forced to flee. In just a few years in the mid-1840s, Ireland's population was reduced by about 30 percent. By 1914, Ireland's population was only half of what it had been in the 1840s. A significant number of these people were forced to emigrate to the United States to survive.

Most of the first generation of Irish immigrants were concentrated in Boston, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. The Irish population of New York exceeded the total population of Dublin.

A large number of people of Irish descent live in Boston, USA Today

A total of 4 million Irish immigrated to the United States in the 19th century, but only about 80,000 were willing to go to the American South. The Irish are heavily concentrated geographically in the northeastern United States, and almost always choose metropolitan areas. Perhaps this has something to do with their experience of being oppressed by English colonists to farm before coming to America. In short, over 80% of Irish immigrants chose to survive in large cities upon arrival in the United States.

These first-generation Irish farmers who chose to survive in the big cities had to do the hard work of the lower class in the cities because they did not have the culture and more skills, living in dirty and small slums, with families living in small rooms. Despite such a hard life, they were willing to stay in the city.

The 19th century ushered in the peak of the construction of railroads, highways, canals, and other transportation facilities in the United States, and the Irish began to leave the big cities in large numbers to get jobs and participate in transportation construction. Later, on both sides of these transportation arteries, new towns were gradually formed. The origins of these towns were naturally born from the simple shacks built by Irish workers while building roads and digging rivers. Some of the Irish who joined the army, after they were discharged, preferred to settle near the barracks rather than go to the countryside to farm.

In Boston in the mid-19th century, even the proportion of blacks engaged in manual work was lower than that of the Irish. Free blacks in Boston were generally better off financially than the Irish, who had extremely precarious jobs, such as having to find another way out when the railroad was finished. The work was hard, dirty, and dangerous, such as mining, road building, and canal digging, with malaria often spreading during canal work, cholera was often prevalent and many people lost their lives as a result. Railroad construction also killed so many Irishmen that it was said that "under every sleeper, there was an Irishman buried.

Before the Civil War, Southern slave owners were often willing to replace black slaves with Irishmen to do life-threatening work because they could be sold for money.

By the 20th century, most people of Irish descent were still living in urban America, and although there were numerous attempts to mobilize the Irish to participate in American agriculture, such attempts never seemed to work.

The Irish who came to America before the Great Famine, calling themselves Scots-Irish, were Protestants of Scottish ancestry who settled in Northern Ireland, which would make them Northern Irish in today's political scheme of things.

The Catholic Southern Irish, on the other hand, landed in the United States on a large scale after the famine, and there was mutual discrimination and conflict between these two groups. Of course, the Irish, who liked to drink and fight, did not get along with many ethnic groups, including blacks. It is said that the Irish love to drink because in their own country when the poor can not afford to eat bread, can only eat potatoes. And whiskey is also wheat brewing and cheaper than bread, to satisfy their cravings they developed the habit of drinking whiskey, but also brought this habit to the United States.

The Irish who immigrated to the United States did not forget the history of oppression by the English in their own country, so after arriving in the United States, they attached great importance to the ability to unite with the Catholics, they also attached great importance to participate in politics, because politics represents power. There were later many government agencies in the United States that had a large number of Irish in control.

JFK and his wife Jacqueline

Life was tough for the first generation of Irish immigrants, improved in the second generation, and didn't get better until the third generation as a whole. For example, JFK, the former president of the United States, whose father was a third third-generation, became a wealthy man. And the fourth generation, JFK, became president.

There have been as many as 22 U.S. presidents with Irish ancestry.

Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, James Polk, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

Not to mention how many of these presidents are famous and distinguished American presidents, including Trump, the United States has only 45 presidents, nearly and half of the presidents were of Irish descent.

So, the Irish Americans are as keen on politics as the Jewish Americans are on business.


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    CopperchaleuWritten by Copperchaleu

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