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Irish History - Is it Good to Be From Ireland?

Updated on June 8, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.

Tralee Bay in Ireland


A Celebration of Survival

The glad celebrations of St. Patrick's Day are uplifting in merriment, freedom, and dedication to a People that have overcome adversity in many ways.

It is likely that peoples in all nations on all continents have suffered slavery, derision, belittlement, and abuse at the hands of opposing peoples that have overtaken them by force in conquest. This conquest is the natural expansion of people and populations to fill the globe, just as water spreads out on a surface until it can go no further.

This conquest is also a result of the drive to survive and the fear of the Other, who might remove a strong group's resources, freedom, and dignity.

Ireland and the Irish are phenomenal, but its more than Guinness, shamrocks, and Irish Tenors that makes this so. Much more comes from Ireland.


The Irish Are Overcomers

Nearly run out of their own countries by Irish and Scottish Potato Famines, both peoples are Overcomers. In fact, many ethic groups have had a hard road and have overcome hardship.

Some of me ancestors lived in Ireland for a time, and did not tell anyone this fact upon their arrival in America in the early 1800s. I suppose they were ashamed to say "Irish" and afraid of bigotry. They formed new lives, living in Oreland should not be a dreaded "family secret. "

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all the Irish, whether they wear Green or Orange on that commemorative day. They all deserve to be recognized for surviving, flourishing, and enriching much of the world with their culture and accomplishments.

Irish Tribute in the UK

The Great Famine National Monument, a portion from a sculpture by John Behan of a coffin ship that took the Irish away.
The Great Famine National Monument, a portion from a sculpture by John Behan of a coffin ship that took the Irish away. | Source

Nearly run out of their own countries by Irish and Scottish Potato Famines, both peoples are Overcomers.

Moving to America

During Black History Month in February 2010, our local PBS stations consistently showed documentaries of some other formerly or currently disenfranchised groups besides the African slaves in America and descendant African Americans. This is progressive, because I see only one Holocaust - a holocaust against all Indigenous Peoples, whether Black, Jewish, Australian Aboriginals (insulted publicly in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics), First Nations, or any of hundreds of other ethnicities. It is all the same maltreatment and all inhumanly incorrect. This Holocaust has emerged in waves, focusing on different ethnic groups, brought to public knowledge slowly. In its widest range, holocaust has touched everyone and the conscience of many.

Despite past and present maltreatment or degradation, the Irish, their friends, and fans are still able to celebrate their heritage. Because of their talents and accomplishments, I appreciate that many of the Irish brought them to America as they moved or were shipped out by the English government after the Great Famine.

PBS documentaries point out that the Irish and the Scottish Potato Famines were purposefully or even inadvertentlycreated by the English governmentin a possible attempt to move some of the Irish and Scots out and across the sea. Often, though not always, these people were shipped out in rotten "coffin ships" (see the link just previous; ref: Irish Famine Curriculum Committee, James Mullin,Chairman). The conditions aboard a coffin ship were not better than the conditions that killed many Africans on board slave ships in previous centuries.

It's all one Holocaust.

The Irish starved, but potatoes were still shipped overseas in large amounts as a cash crop all this while in the mid-1800s. The desire to remove the Irish is more easily believable when we recall that in 1950s America, milk and coffee were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico in order to create a shortage of these products and to drive up the price [ref: curricula and notes of Mary R. Stanz from 1950 - 1970].

But what have the Irish done that is good, besides survived?

The Irish Helped To Save History

The Irish of ancient days helped to save part of global civilization by preserving important documents. They have made other contributions to society as well.

All Good Things

Every part of Ireland and Irish history has offered some good things to the world:

CELTIC HISTORY - The world is fascinated with the Celts. many peoples believe themselves to be related to them. In fact, one obscure text on this subject is called The Black Celts and is located in a university library somewhere in America. Once in the Ohio State University Libraries, it was shipped elsewhere. It was a very limited 1970s print run that traced blood types and other genetic markers from Africa to Wales, Ireland, and England, and connected migration along the same routes and with Stonehenge. Innumerable other texts and popular novels abound in Celtic topics.

IRISH CUISINE - The world and HubPages are full of Irish recipes. I recently learned in the HubMob topic that I'd been preparing colcannon for quite some while without realizing that it was Irish (see the ARSS feed at the end of the article).

MUSIC - Irish music and song artists are famous everywhere in most musical genres. In North America, Irish music, voices, and instruments have influenced local music, song, and dance as well (Blue Grass, clogging, step dancing, etc.). Michael Flatley, an Irish-American, made music and dance history by starting step dancing lessons at the age of 11. much older than average, to become the number one world champion in that genre, writing and performing in Feet of Flames and Lord of the Dance. The Irish Tenors includes Tynan Ronan, the Multi-medal Paralympian and physician that overcame amputation of both legs. Have a look at him and other Irish singers:

THEATER AND CINEMA - The contribution of the Irish, Irish Americans, and Irish all over the world, in these arts is enormous. Take, for example, Donald O'Connor, Peter and Annette O'Toole, Maureen O'Sullivan, George M. Cohan, James Cagney (who played Cohan as well as a string of gangsters), Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester from the 1960s' Addams Family), Liam Neeson, Spike Milligan, Pierce Brosnan, Conan O'Brien, Colm Meany, Jason O'Mara (Life on Mars) and hundreds of others. Irish actors have been successful in silent and modern film, on television, in vaudeville, in music videos, on the stage in classic and popular musical productions, simply everywhere.

Note: Jackie Coogan had been a child actor. He sued his mother and stepfather after they squandered his money and stimulated California to pass legislation to proterct all child dactors' incomes.

ARCHITECTURE - Just a few of the hundreds of recognized masters of architecture from Ireland:

  • George Ashlin - Designed dozens of cathesdrals, churches, and other buildings.
  • Sir Thomas Newenham Deane (19th Century) - A Conservation Architect and Gothic stylist. he restored and revitalized older buildings until his heath in 1899. He also helped to design the Museum at Trinity College (Dublin) and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
  • Edward Lovett Pierce (18th Century) - Designed the Irish Houses of Parliament, among other works.
  • James Hoban (18th Century) - Architect in Irealnd, then after the American Revolution, in Philadelphia, South Carolina, and Washington DC. He even designed what is now the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, which is impressive.
  • Eddie Hacket - Designed at least two dozen golf courses along the natural lay of the land, not displacing large amounts of soil and vegetation. He sued a lot of native grasses and trees and most often built by the sea until his death in 1996.


U2 - I'll Go Crazy

May you always walk in sunshine.
May you never want for more.
May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.

Irish Explorer in the 500s AD

Statue of St. Brendan in Bantry in County Cork.
Statue of St. Brendan in Bantry in County Cork.

INVENTIONS AND DISCOVERIES- The first lunar charts have been traced to Ireland's Newgrange, which friends of mine visited last year. They also saw some manmade islands that date back to the 4000s BC. Robert Boyle is a now-famous 17th Century chemist (Boyle's Law). Through the 1800s, inventions attributed to Irish people included the hollow needle syringe, the guided missile, the Gregg Shorthand system, and others as well as the discovery of the electron by George Stoney. In the 20th Century, the Irish gave us radiotherapy and the Kelvin Scale, and then discovered pulsars.

AMERICAN POLITICS - Many government officials have been of Irish descent, probably most noticeably in history, John F. Kennedy and his brothers Bobby and Ted. In addition, Bill O'Reilly is a political commentator that some love, some hate, and some love to hate.

TRANSPORTATION AND EXPLORATION - The Irish played a large roll in building the American railroad system coast to coast in the early-to-mid 1800s and were often looked down upon as a lower class and treated unfairly. However, they persevered; individuals of Irish descent serve/have served as astronauts on transportation projects into outer space that began in the 1950s. These people include Edward Givens, Neil Armstrong, James Irwin, Michael Collins, Kathryn Sullivan, Eileen Collins, T.J. O'Malley (aeronautical engineer for the Mercury Program), Brian Duffy, James McDivitt, John Creighton, Joseph Kerwin, James F. Reilly, Mark Kelly, and more. Before them all, St. Brendan the Navigatorin the 6th Century is recorded as having set sail on the Atlantic Ocean in quest of the Garden of Eden (some believe he reached North America).

LITERATURE - We cannot fail to mention Bram Stoker (Dracula and its genre), C.S. Lewis (early science fiction as well as Christian literature) James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Johnathan Swift (early science fiction), and Frank O'Connor, all of whom are a few of a liong list of Irish authors, poets, and playwrights.   

Nearly any field one can name includes the accomplishments of the Irish. This has been just an overview of some fields.

Some Irish Thoughts

  • A dishonest woman can't be kept in and an honest woman won't.
  • It is a hard task to comfort the proud.
  • Long loneliness is better than bad company.
  • Trouble hates nothing as much as a smile.
  • A silent mouth is musical.
  • The person of the greatest talk is the person of the least work.

It is good to be Irish!

James Cagney and Yankee Doodle Dandy (George M. Cohan)

© 2010 Patty Inglish MS


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