The Irish in America


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We Have a Winner!

Before we put all the excitement of St. Patrick’s Day behind us for another year, we need to announce the winner of our Book Giveaway! Next time we will have to challenge you guys a bit and make the trivia question tougher – everyone who entered had the correct answer.

Source: writersweek.ie

Source: writersweek.ie

The famous Listowel Writers Week is held each year over the June Bank Holiday weekend. This year the week of writing workshops, competitions, and festivities runs May 28th – June 1st. The full program will be announced in April on the Writers Week website.

We wish we could give you all a copy of Vincent Carmody’s lovely book about Listowel, but there could be only one lucky winner.

THE WINNER IS…

ED MOONEY 

from County Kildare

Congratulations, Ed! Send us your address and your book will be on its way – click here to email us.

A big thanks to Vincent Carmody for sharing his Listowel with our readers through his stories and for donating the signed copy of his book, Listowel – Snapshots of an Irish Market Town 1850-1950

Listowel (courtesy of Vincent Carmody)

Listowel (courtesy of Vincent Carmody)

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Reminder: St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway!

Just a friendly reminder to enter our St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway by 11:59pm EDT tomorrow, March 17th. The winner will be announced Wednesday, March 19th. Simply answer the Listowel trivia question below, fill in your contact information, and hit the submit button.

But first, take a look at what people have to say about the prize, a signed copy of Vincent Carmody’s Listowel – Snapshots of an Irish Market Town 1850-1950:

“A beautifully designed and executed book, wherein the discards of history are put on parade to become a treasure throve of insight into the life of an Irish Market town. Listowel is transfigured; If space allows movement; place is pause at every turn of a page.”     Dr. Patrick J. O’ Connor

“That Vincent Carmody’s Listowel, Snapshots of an Irish Market town is evocative and beautiful is not surprising, but it is also an artful history. Concisely and lucidly told, it is a mosaic of faces and the telling artifacts of everyday life.”    Richard White, Professor of American History, Stanford University

“This book is about more than the shops and the pubs. It is a reminder of the transience of life, of the way that humans move on but a streetscape remains. Beautifully presented, it will appeal to anyone from North Kerry and should give other towns reason to wish they had someone who would do the same for them.”    Frank O’Shea, Irish Echo 

Listowel (courtesy of Vincent Carmody)

Listowel (courtesy of Vincent Carmody)

Good Luck!


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Day Three of Irish American Favorites: My Grandma’s Boiled Dinner

“Go on, have another potato…they are good for you.”

Grandma with her brother Frank, llong before she perfected her boiled dinner.

Grandma with her brother Frank, long before she perfected her boiled dinner.

Without fail, my grandma uttered those words every time she served up a delicious boiled dinner. Actually, she said this when she was feeding you anything – just make a substitution for the word potato. Everything was good for you, including chocolate chip cookies and fudge. Grandma argued that she only used good ingredients, so a second helping wouldn’t hurt you.

Like most things my grandma cooked or baked, her boiled dinner was no-nonsense and consisted of meat, cabbage, potatoes, onions, and carrots. Occasionally, another root vegetable might sneak into the mix, and the meat was usually country-style pork ribs. Talk about comfort food!

The reason this is one of my favorites of Irish America is because my wonderful Grandma Agnes McMahon Regan was – you guessed it – Irish American. A boiled dinner is a meal found in some form in countries the world over. My grandma’s version is a take on the traditional New England Boiled Dinner. Grandma preferred the pork to the corned beef, and the precise cut changed over the years. By the 1980s, she settled on the country-style ribs.

When I was a child, I would sit at Grandma’s kitchen table while she peeled and cut the vegetables for boiled dinner. I always wanted to help, but Grandma didn’t trust me with the vegetable peeler and knife. I remember she would give me the heart of the cabbage to eat. I think that treat may have been just to shut me up. I (used to) talk a lot.

Gram_2001_Scan_June-2-2013-8-34-10-838-PM

Grandma in 2001

In America, we eat corned beef and cabbage on Saint Patrick’s Day. I suspect this tradition evolved as much from the traditional New England boiled dinner as from the Irish bacon and cabbage consumed in Ireland. The funny thing is, my grandma’s boiled dinner always tasted like the Irish bacon and cabbage to me.

I miss my grandma’s boiled dinner, but of course I miss my grandma more.


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It’s a St. Patrick’s Day Contest!

We are excited to announce the first ever competition offered by The Irish in America. We couldn’t think of a better time of the year than the St. Patrick’s Day season to celebrate our Irish heritage with a fun contest!

You could win this gorgeous signed and numbered, limited edition print created by

I LOVE MAYO! 

stpatsday_ilovemayo

Two views of this special, limited edition print.

Mayo artist Jane Steger-Lewis designed this print for her I Love Mayo line. The subject is inspired by an exhibit Jane saw at the Museum of Country Life at Turlough Park near Castlebar which included a display of the rosette badges worn by children on St. Patrick’s Day in years past.

The details:

  • Signed and numbered by the artist
  • Limited edition, winner will receive #1 of 20 printed
  • Actual size: 5×7″, matted size: 8×10″
  • Also available for purchase at www.ilovemayo.com – 40 Euro each

Want a chance to win this beautiful print?

Complete the following sentence…

My favorite thing about Ireland is ______.

Enter the competition one of three ways, but please only enter once:

  1. Complete this form and submit: 

  2. Send us an email with the subject “St. Patrick’s Day” and your answer in the body of the email. Be sure to include your name.
  3. Tweet your answer to @FamilyToursIRL.

Entries accepted until 11:59pm (CST) Saturday, March 16, 2013. The lucky winner’s name will be drawn by our official contest judges, and announced here and on Twitter on Sunday, March 17th.

Official judges Maryn and Ainsley take their jobs very seriously

Official judges Maryn and Ainsley take their jobs very seriously

Be sure to check out Jane’s fantastic I Love Mayo website of prints, paintings, posters.

www.ilovemayo.com


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A Little Bit of Ireland in Lake Michigan

James Earl Jones (from http://www.achievement.org)

I have Michigan on my mind. It all started the other day when I came across a great blog post from St. Patrick’s Day: James Earl Jones is a Michigan Irishman and Other Stories About Michigan’s Irish Heritage. Louis Blouin of FoundMichigan.org explores Michigan’s Irish heritage. Here’s the introduction – very funny:

St. Patrick’s Day is all about getting your fake Irish on, whether it be decorating yourself in various cheap green crap that was no doubt made in China, not Ireland; busting out the one Pogues song you have on your iPod; or choking down a breakfast of green eggs and ham at your local Irish(ish) pub. It’s about that, and having an excuse to drink before 10 a.m. But Michigan has plenty of authentic Irish heritage to hang your hat on (even the oversized Leprechaun headgear you got at Meijer last night). Here’s a roundup of some of Michigan’s real-deal Irish heritage you might not have known about—and a nod to some of the fake stuff, too.

Blouin’s entire article is interesting, but the section titled, Beaver Island: Mormon turned Irish Kingdom, definitely caught my eye. I had never heard of Beaver Island. What a fascinating history…click here for Blouin’s full article. Read what he has to say about Beaver Island, then come back for more on the research taking place.

The University of Notre Dame’s Historical Archaeology of Irish America project investigates the nineteenth century Irish settlement of Beaver Island, Michigan. The head of the investigation is Deb Rotman, Ph.D., RPA of Notre Dame. On the project blog Professor Rotman explains:

This archaeological and historical project allows scholars and students to investigate an aspect of the Irish Diaspora that is currently virtually unknown – that is, the lived experiences of Irish immigrants who settled away from the large urban centers on the East Coast…

Since 2006, my students and I have been investigating Irish immigrant experiences in South Bend, Indiana, including archaeological excavation in the city as well as archival research and oral history collection in both Ireland and the United States. Beginning in 2010, this project expanded to include Beaver Island, Michigan, which was inhabited in the late nineteenth century by immigrants from Árainn Mhór off the coast of Co. Donegal.

Beaver Island, Michigan (from http://www.beaverisland.net)

What I like best about this project is that it is taking a serious look at the lives of Irish settlers in America’s rural Midwest. Professor Rotman points out that little research exists on any Irish immigrant settlements other than the urban centers of New York City and Boston. The Irish were pioneer settlers in much of the Western United States, and it is about time attention be paid to their lives and the contributions they made to their communities and adopted country.

The project website includes a number of papers completed by students involved with the Beaver Island project. The papers explore the history and sociology of the island using the archaeological evidence they have unearthed. Check out the blog here.

Professor Rotman, perhaps when you finish up with Beaver Island, you might want to take a look at Clontarf, Minnesota and nearby Tara Township? I have always wanted to do a dig by my grandfather’s birthplace  in this rural American Irish settlement…just think about it!

Click here for more information about the history of Beaver Island – from its days as a “Mormon Kingdom” to a land full of names like GallagherBoyle, and O’Donnell, where Irish was the language of choice. I wonder what the folks in Donegal have planned for next year’s Gathering Ireland 2013…will the people of Beaver Island be welcomed “home” to Ireland?

Corktown, Detroit, Michigan (from corktownhistoric.org)

Links to more on the Irish in Michigan: