Sunday, March 15, 2009

Irish in Colonial America

I consider Ireland and Great Britain as a Middle East in Western Europe. After a fragile peace of a few years, splinter groups have now struck again, with two lethal attacks in Northern Ireland. The issues are always the same: political, economic, religious, all traditional areas of conflict.

During the disastrous potato famines in the mid-19th century, Irish starved, lost everything, and emigrated to the U.S. If one could pay steerage fare, there was a chance to live. Great Britain was perceived as neglectful and non-caring in this tragedy. Problems between the two countries had never been resolved. It is a persistent dark chapter.

But in the 18th century, there already was a significant Irish presence in the colonies, with marked results. Before the American Revolution, Irish were in Boston. Gradually, as the British military and political pressures increased before 1776, the Irish immigrants were a hostile, very anti-British force in the city (see footnote). Sam Adams, the most accomplished agitator of his time, had more opportunity to recruit sympathetic followers.

This mini-post is submitted with the imminent occurrence of St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, the happiest, largest non-official U.S. holiday. I divide holidays into three types – the first, official U.S. holidays, such as July 4th, when everything is closed; second, commemorative holidays such as Columbus Day, when closings vary; and third, social holidays, such as St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo, when everything is open, and celebrations predominantly consist of good cheer, good food, and traditional music and dance. Social holidays are a retail bonanza.

I heartily support additional holidays on the calendar. Why not add Constitution Day, September 17? As a commemorative holiday, something to focus on one of our greatest treasures, the National Park system. As for social holidays, possibilities are endless. The choice is yours. --Renata Breisacher Mulry

Footnote: page 38, Smithsonian Q & A: The American Revolution: The Ultimate Question and Answer Book

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How about making every Monday a holiday?