Irish Immigrants
14
Mar

Irish Immigrants

As we approach St. Patrick’s Day, we are reminded that the Irish American story spans hundreds of years of immigration. The first cause of Irish influx to America was the Industrial Revolution. From the 1760s farmers and laborers lost their livelihoods and Europe became more industrialized. The period of the Great Hunger in Ireland from 1845 to 1850 is the most well-known period of mass immigration from Ireland when more than a million fled to the United States. Immigration continued through the 1900s with the Irish in search of a better life during periods of hardship. It’s of little surprise that today 39.6 million Americans claim Irish ancestry.

Irish ImmigrantsarrivingatEllis Island

IMMIGRANTS ARRIVING AT ELLIS ISLAND

Irish immigration is strongly linked with Ellis Island. The very first immigrant to come through Ellis Island was a seventeen-year-old Irish girl. On December 20, 1891, Annie Moore, along with her two brothers, departed from Queenstown, Ireland and set sail aboard the steamship Nevada. They spent twelve days at sea, including Christmas, arriving late on New Year’s Eve. As Ellis Island officially opened its doors on January 1, 1892, Annie Moore became the very first person to be processed at the new federal immigration station. Over the course of the next 62 years, more than 3.5 million Irish immigrants were processed at Ellis Island. Today, Annie Moore is honored by two statues sculpted by Jeanne Rynhart. One stands in Queenstown, her port of departure, and the other at Ellis Island, her port of arrival. The image is meant to represent the millions who passed through Ellis Island in pursuit of the American dream.

AnnieMoorestatueinIreland
ANNIE MOORE MONUMENT IN IRELAND

Statue of Annie Moore at Ellis Island

ANNIE MOORE MONUMENT ON ELLIS ISLAND

Ellis Island closed for good in 1954. The last person to be processed was a Norwegian merchant seaman by the name of Arne Peterssen. Although it shut its doors over 60 years ago, Ellis Island remains a part of the Irish spirit. It's regularly referenced in cultural works, such as in the hit movie “Brooklyn,” based on Colm Tóibín novel in which the protagonist Eilis Lacey is processed at Ellis Island twice. Perhaps one of the most poignant contemporary references to the immigration center is Mary Black’s song “Ellis Island,” featured on the 1998 album "Song for Ireland." The mournful song tells the tale of a pair of lovers who are being separated by emigration. As the chorus says “…last call for Ellis Island, These are the last words I'm ever gonna hear you say.”

helpingIrishgirlsEllisIsland1906

IRISH FAMILY - ELLIS ISLAND 1906

IrishAmericans

IRISH AMERICANS 

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