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Irish Immigrants in New York City, 1945-1995

Linda Dowling Almeida

Publication Year: 2001

Irish Immigrants in New York City,
1945-1995

Linda Dowling Almeida

The story of one of the most visible groups of immigrants in the major city of immigrants in the last half of the 20th century.

"Almeida offers a dynamic portrait of Irish New York, one that keeps reinventing itself under new circumstances."
-- Hasia Diner, New York University

"[Almeida's] close attention to changes in economics, culture, and politics on both sides of the Atlantic makes [this book] one of the more accomplished applications of the 'new social history' to a contemporary American ethnic group." -- Roger Daniels, University of Cincinnati

It is estimated that one in three New York City residents is an immigrant. No other American city has a population composed of so many different nationalities. Of these "foreign born," a relatively small percentage come directly from Ireland, but the Irish presence in the city -- and America -- is ubiquitous. In the 1990 census, Irish ancestry was claimed by over half a million New Yorkers and by 44 million nationwide. The Irish presence in popular American culture has also been highly visible.

Yet for all the attention given to Irish Americans, surprisingly little has been said about post--World War II immigrants. Almeida's research takes important steps toward understanding modern Irish immigration. Comparing 1950s Irish immigrants with the "New Irish" of the 1980s, Almeida provides insights into the evolution of the Irish American identity and addresses the role of the United States and Ireland in shaping it.

She finds, among other things, that social and economic progress in Ireland has heightened expectations for Irish immigrants. But at the same time they face greater challenges in gaining legal residence, a situation that has led the New Irish to reject many organizations that long supported previous generations of Irish immigrants in favor of new ones better-suited to their needs.

Linda Dowling Almeida, Adjunct Professor of History at New York University, has published articles on the "New Irish" in America and is a longtime member of the New York Irish History Roundtable. She also edited Volume 8 of the journal New York Irish History.

March 2001
232 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4, index, append.
cloth 0-253-33843-3 $35.00 s /

Published by: Indiana University Press

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

The foundations for this book were laid more than ten years ago when I published my first article about the New Irish. Along the way I have been encouraged, prodded, and inspired by dozens of people and stories. I’d like to acknowledge everyone but I’m afraid of omitting as many as I include. So I’d just like to thank anyone who has ever listened to, contributed toward, or commented on any aspect of...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-11

At the beginning of the twenty-first century it is estimated that one in three New York City residents is an immigrant. No other American city has a population composed of so many different nationalities—more than a hundred at last count. Of these “foreign-born” a relatively small percentage come from Ireland, but the Irish presence in the city (and in the country) in the last half of the twentieth...

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1 The Background: When the Irish Ran New York

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pp. 12-22

The Irish have been leaving Ireland to go to America for more than three hundred years. The most significant influx of Irish to the United States occurred between1841 and 1921, when nearly four million Irish—most of them Catholic—flooded American shores. The migration was notable not only for its numbers but also for the political, social, and cultural impact the immigrants had on the cities and in-...

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2 The 1950s: “It Was a Great Time in America”

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pp. 23-44

Between 1946 and 1961, 531,255 people, almost 17 percent of the population, left Ireland. Forty percent of those who were between the ages of 10 and 19 in 1951 were gone by 1961. Most of the migrants went to Great Britain, but 68,151 left for America during and after World War II (1941–1961). It was the largest migration of Irish to the United States since the 1920s. U.S. Immigration and Naturalization...

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3 The 1970s: The Interim

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pp. 45-60

The 1960s and 1970s were decades of transition for the Irish in Ireland and Irish Americans in New York. In order to understand the relationship between the New Irish of the 1980s and the emigrant and Irish American community that survivedin New York from the end of World War II, it is necessary to look at that twenty-year period. Social, legislative, religious, demographic, and cultural changes in Ireland...

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4 The 1980s: The New Irish

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pp. 61-82

After two decades of stability and growth, which included a net inward migration of people as well as a natural population increase due to higher birth rates, Ireland lost about 10 percent of its population between 1981 and 1991. In those ten years, almost 360,000 Irish citizens left their homeland, most in the second half of the decade, in numbers the country had not witnessed since the end of World War II....

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5 The Catholic Church: What Parish Are You From?

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pp. 83-109

It is impossible to overestimate the significance of the Roman Catholic Church in the daily lives and identity of the Irish and their descendants in Ireland and Irish America in the fifty years after World War II. Whether as a spiritual leader or as a target of rebellion and attack, the Church was a central institution in the lives of its people on both sides of the Atlantic. The ability of the Church to command and...

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6 Who Are the Irish?

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pp. 110-137

What defines the Irish? What is an Irish American? What is the difference between the two? Since the nineteenth century, any given generation of the community in New York included immigrants as well as first-, second-, and third-generation Irish and Irish Americans. And within that population were immigrants who had left the homeland at different points in Ireland’s development and for vastly different...

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Conclusion

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pp. 138-142

In the 1940s and 1950s Irish migrants were just as likely to live in Irish neighborhoods, work for Irish bosses, and socialize in Irish pubs as the New Irish in the1980s and 1990s. But real differences existed between the mind-sets of the two groups. The majority of New Irish lived among themselves and avoided interaction with Irish Americans and the previous generation of immigrants; they did not join...

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Epilogue

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pp. 143-148

As this book goes to press in the twenty-first century, the number of people leaving Ireland runs at more than 18,000 a year. Between 1990 and 1998 the number o fpeople entering Ireland each year ran between 30,000 and 44,000. Recent census data from Ireland reports that net in-migration (the immigration figure after adjusting for births and deaths in Ireland) to the country in 1998 was 22,800, up from...

Notes

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pp. 149-188

Bibliography

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pp. 189-206

Index

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pp. 207-211


E-ISBN-13: 9780253108531
E-ISBN-10: 0253108535
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253338433

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 1 index
Publication Year: 2001