As each generation moves into the future, we must give all we have inherited to them. If we don’t possess the stories of our past, we must seek them—or what can we give our children to define who they truly are? If we only bring trivial legends, tales and media impressions of our heritage created by others, instead of our true history, we have nothing of value to offer those who come after us. And with nothing for them to pass on to their heirs, those stories that were left to us will be lost forever.
America has been a mecca for Irish immigrants since the 1600s. They and their sons participated in significant numbers in the American Revolution. There were Irish Americans among the signers of the foundational documents of the United States: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
In 1790, the first national census was held to count everyone and learn where Americans had come from. From a total population of 3.9 million, 65% were from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland—the majority was Irish. A little more than 19% were from Africa and the rest were from the Netherlands, France, Sweden or were Jewish with no homeland.
Though they started at the bottom of the economic ladder, Irish and Irish American insistence on education for their children paid off. By 1900, Irish Americans slowly rose within the working world and had jobs and earnings about equal on average to their neighbors. The yet there were still shanty towns in major cities.
After 1945, the Irish consistently ranked at the top of the social hierarchy and business world contributing to the shaping of America, thanks to their high rate of college attendance. According to the last Census, there are 34.5 million Americans who list their heritage as either primarily or partially Irish. That number is, incidentally, seven times larger than the population of Ireland itself. From their coming, America has seen 22 Presidents of Irish descent and countless CEOs of major corporations. The story of Irish America is truly one of the more remarkable success stories in the History of America.