Irish Women Immigrants Essay Sample

Irish Women Immigrants

Part I


The occupations of early immigrant women in the age group 40 to 50: The Irish migration from 1816 AD forward.


The research objectives or the expectations of the research include the following: the main reasons that made Irish women to migrate into United States, how the Irish Famine contributed into their immigration into American, challenges experienced during the immigration both in Ireland and in their new environment, how the Irish women adjusted to the new environment upon migration, the trend in the growth of Irish women in United States and the current population of the Irish in United States

Literature Review

The migration of Irish people began in 1816. At the beginning, about 6000 people migrated into United States. This figure was doubled nearly two years later. These people later acquired jobs in buildings canals among other construction projects (Connell & Doyle, 2006). In Ireland, Blight began affecting potatoes which is the chief food for about three quarter of the total country’s population. The blame was laid squarely on the British administrators and the landlords for the catastrophic events that wiped out the Ireland population (Marshall, 1995). This stipulated great desire for people to migrate to a place where life was better.

The Irish famine was the main stimulant for their migration into United States. During this period, there were a drastic number of people who migrated into United States from Ireland. Indeed, by the end of 1954, about a quarter of total population in Ireland had migrated into United States. An earlier census carried in 1950 showed that there were about 961,719 people in United States whose origin was in Ireland (Stolarik, 1988). Thus, for a period of ten years, there were a significant number of people who had migrated into United States mainly due to famine. After migration, thousands of Irish worked on the building of the railroads in their new settlement. Eventually, they were able to save money that was used to buy land in United States. With time, they were able to establish themselves as farmers contributing greatly to their development.

Women from Ireland thus migrated due to the intermittent crop failures in their country as well as increased rents. These crops acted as their staple food. Thus, their failure culminated into great problem as they did not have an alternative to feed themselves and their families. Moreover, the linen failed for years (Barrett, 1998). This resulted in many Irish women losing their jobs in the linen industry. Previously, the linen industry was acting as the main source of employment for many women. Its failure meant that they did not have any source of income for their families. This made life more difficult in Ireland as the economy continued to fail with the rise in standards of living. Another factor that caused their immigration was disagreements in their religion. Notably, Catholic is the dominant religion in Ireland. However, by then, there were intense differences in terms of their beliefs something that caused hostility among themselves (Stanley, 2008). They had firm belief in their religion. This resulted in killings as people rose towards one another due to difference in beliefs. Thus, conflict with each other about their diverse beliefs in religion resulted in majority opting to migrate to United States where they believed there was peace and freedom of worship (Marshall, 1995). These problems did not occur in one day, they took about 60,000 years something that saw about 200,000 people migrating from their country to other places especially to United States.

In the mid 1840’s, Irish migration was the most famous event. Apart from famine in their country, they were also running from the British persecutions as they were in control of Ireland by then since it had not gained independence. Virtually, the famine was a result of airborne fungus that caused their staple food such as potatoes to die. This resulted in the death of a million people due to intense famine yet the British continued to persecute them instead of providing reliefs for the dying family. Thus, starvation and illness caused majority people to die. About one-fourth of the total population succumbed of starvation. Eventually, there was an outbreak of typhus that claimed the life of about 350,000 people in 1846 (Stolarik, 1988). This culminated in losing of Ireland status among other European countries forcing most people to migrate. It is therefore evident that these tragic events were the main stimulation for the migration of Irish women into United States.

Irish women were able to adjust in their new environment as they were exposed to various opportunities. For example, they were involved in constructions of railways were they offered various services. In this case, they were able to get opportunities that enabled them to acquire income to buy land among other forms of resources leading to their success. They were able to increase in their population. Currently, they compose one of the most success ethnic groups in United States. Although there were issues of discrimination, they were able to use their occupation to buy their own land where they were able to settle unlike the blacks who were highly discriminated.

After settling in United States, American civil war broke out. About 210,000 Irish joined the war. This is because, they felt threatened of losing their jobs in case the slaves would be set free. Thus, majority fought for the unions in order to defend their jobs which were already deeply established United States. At this particular time, Irish-Americans had increased in number in cities such as New York, Chicago and Boston. This made is easy for them to acquire political positions. Thus, they had significant control of United States in the political arena something that guaranteed their continued dominion.

Being in refugee women in United States, Irish women went through various struggles. At this time, women were not allowed to hold important economic positions. Thus, they were highly oppressed by the white men in the new environment. However, they stood strong and withheld to their traditions from home (Marshall, 1995). Some of the traditions that were highly esteemed were the catholic religion. It was the symbol of faith that helped them to remain united in the new land. Therefore, Irish success in United States is highly evident in the contemporary United States. The Irish were able to adjust in their environment as time went by. There are various economic and psychological variables that indicate their success (Barrett, 1998). Some of indicators of Irish success are that women were able start institutions of civil rights advocates that defended women’s rights against any form of harassment. Moreover, women have been able to rise in political position over the years in places such as Chicago and Philadelphia among others.

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Part II

Research Findings

The following were the findings from the research: Firstly, there were various reasons that made the Irish women to migrate to United States. Some of the reasons include the following; adverse famine leading to fail in staple food, failure of linen industries that was previously the source of employment, persecutions from their colonizers; the British, epidemic and diseases, religious conflicts as well as  starvation. From the research, the Irish famine played a great role in influencing the Irish women’s decision to migrate to United States (Martin, 2003). Notably, famine caused starvation where about a million people died of hunger. Thus, in order to be assured of their existence, they had to find comfort somewhere else and this was in United States that was ready to accommodate them. In their endeavor to migrate to United States, they encountered various challenges. Firstly, they were under the British administration something that denied them freedom (Stanley, 2008). They were not free to move as they were exposed to several forms of exploitations and persecutions from their colonizers.

Analyses of the Topic

In Ireland, life was very brutal. However, in United States, life was not a walk in a park, it was full of challenges. Those who migrated lost touch with their families at home. This was simply because there was no defined means of communication over long distances. Thus, they did not have hope of ever seeing their families again. Life in Ireland was characterized by death, poverty as well as oppression (Barrett & Duffy, 2006). Thus, immigrants saw America as their only dream and hope of their future. The Irish immigrants arrived in United States in masses in ships that were overcrowded while others were branded as coffin ships. These made them to have an understanding that even in United States; life would be full of endurance and survival. Many Irish women were taken advantage of by the dock loafers who knew that most immigrants were ignorance in their environment. They started charging them outrageous fees for their stay in United States. These made them more impoverished to an extent that they were unable to move on. Women and children were at great danger. Although they were given land, they were not impressed by the idea (Stolarik, 1988). Rather, they preferred to stay together in shanty towns where they could encourage each other as well as celebrate with.

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In United States, Irish immigrants were referred to as strangers. Thus, they were rejected and unwanted by the natives. Initially, they were not allowed to apply any type of work. For example, most employers included a note that stated that, “No Irish Need Apply”. These forced them to live in shacks or in huts as their level of poverty continued to escalate day by day. Thus, they were segregated, their living conditions favored sickness and diseases resulting into an early death mostly by children (Marshall, 1995). Notably, health care facilities were not provided for them. Therefore, they succumbed to any sort of infection due to lack of medication. Moreover, their mode of dressing and illiteracy made them to be ridiculed by others. They were also unfamiliar with plumbing and running water something that provoked scorn by others. Their religious beliefs were also used as a basis for their persecution (Duffy, 2008). Thus, their Irish origin was not only the basis of their oppression. They were also persecuted simply because they were Catholics. Indeed, they were under the threat of being put into a ship and being sent back home. On the other hand, intimidation and insults was used as a form of violence.

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Despite oppression, the Irish immigrants were able to stay in solidarity. They lived by drinking and praying together. Their faith held strong and their determination was their driving force. During the time, the church was a very important part of their life (Seaver, 2007). It held important roles of fighting for their human rights as well as their spiritual rights. Unfortunately, many churches were burned in cities such as Philadelphia due to increased religious riots (Barrett & Duffy, 2006). Indeed, the Irish had great hatred for the English as their colonizers. They developed a great love for United States and engaged in wars. For instance, they joined the civil war and fought fiercely on the part of men.

The days when Irish were not required to apply in certain job positions have since then disappeared. Despite their original status of poverty and hard living, they have been able to cling to the best social, political and economic position in United States over the years (Martin, 2003). Indeed, after the civil, Irish women were able to utilize the opportunity to start businesses that were highly profitable.

Research Variables

Research variables entail factors that contributed to the migration of Irish people from their mother country. In this case, the main factor that forced Irish women to migrate was famine. Thus, famine acts as the independent factor. It was famine that saw a million people die of starvation. Famine was caused by the failure of their staple crops that was highly depended on. In this case, Fungus caused the death of their crops resulting into inadequate food supply among their families forcing them to migrate (Duffy, 2008). Thus, these women migrated to United States to seek refuge. Moreover, famine was also caused by the fact that linen industry that was the source of employment for most Irish women failed at the time. This aggravated the condition of hunger and starvation among the people. On the other hand, there are various dependent variables in the research. These are the factors that contributed to the migration of the Irish people into united sates and that are dependable on the Irish famine. Some of the dependable variables include: religious conflicts among the Irish people. They had differing beliefs that resulted into intense differences resulting in mass killing. These made some Irish women to resolve to migrate. In addition, at the time, Ireland was a colony of England (Quinn, 2009). British were exposing them to any form of oppression despite the fact that they were undergoing through severe famine.

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From the research, it is evident that Irish women migrated into United States for various reasons. In Ireland, life was very brutal and did not support humanity. Many were dying for various reasons especially due hunger that was mainly as a result of nature. Their migration into United States did not automatically guarantee their success. They persevered: unemployment, low incomes, wars, discrimination and segregation as well as death. Therefore, the occupations of early immigrant women in United States are comprised of people from Ireland. Throughout the years, they have been able to take significant positions in United States as an ethnic group. 

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