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Irish Americans facts for kids

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Irish Americans
Notable Irish Americans:
John F. Kennedy, Mother Jones, George M. Cohan
James Braddock, Michael J. McGivney, J.M. Curley
Victor Herbert, Eugene O'Neill, Ed Sullivan.

Irish Americans (Irish: Gaedheal-Mheiriceánaigh) are an North American ethnic group. They are American citizens whose ancestors were Irish.

Who they are

People are called Irish Americans if:


Most Irish people came to the United States between the 17th to mid-19th centuries.

The largest number of Irish people came to the United States between 1820 and 1860. During this time, one out of every three people who immigrated to the United States was Irish.

Between 1820 and 1860, 1,956,557 Irish arrived in the United States. 75% of these immigrants - about 1.5 million Irish people - came after the Great Famine of 1845-1852 (also called The Great Hunger. Many more Irish people died while trying to travel to America on coffin ships.

Between 1820 and 1930, about 4.5 million Irish people moved to the United States.

Where they lived

Most Irish people who came to the United States during the 1800s lived in big cities where there were many other Irish people. They did this so they could help and protect each other. Many stayed near the ports where they arrived, like Boston, New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Many Irish people also lived in Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore.


Most of the Irish immigrants who came to America in the 1800s were Catholic. At that time, most of the United States was controlled by Protestants who were ethnically English, Anglo-Saxon, and Germanic.

Many Irish immigrants were treated badly. For example:

  • Some places did not give jobs to Irish Americans
  • Newspapers often described Irish people using stereotypes (for example, saying they were violent alcoholics)
  • Many Americans believed that Irish people were racially inferior, not as smart as other Americans, and did not deserve to be true citizens

Some politicians spoke out against Irish people. For example, in 1836, Benjamin Disraeli wrote:

[The Irish] hate our order, our civilization, our enterprising industry, our pure religion. [They are a] wild, reckless, indolent [lazy], uncertain and superstitious race.

In the mid-1950s, a political group called the Know-Nothing Movement tried to get Catholic politicians fired from their jobs.

Stereotypes about Irish Americans did not go away. For example, President Richard Nixon once said:

"the Irish can't drink. What you always have to remember with the Irish is they get mean. Virtually every Irish I've known gets mean when he drinks. Particularly the real Irish."

Irish Americans today

In 2013, about 33.3 million Americans - about one in every 10 - reported having some Irish ancestry. This is about seven times the number of people who actually live in Ireland.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Inmigración irlandesa en los Estados Unidos para niños

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