Irish-American Heritage MonthCulture
Mar 9, 2021
The first Irish-American Heritage Month was celebrated in 1991. A heritage month celebrates the accomplishments of a group to a country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau survey in 2019, a significant portion of Americans, 30.4 million or 9.2%, claimed Irish ancestry. A few famous Irish Americans include President John F. Kennedy, Henry Ford, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney.
The month of March is a fitting time to celebrate Irish-American Heritage Month as it occurs in the same month as St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish national holiday on March 17th. This month is also a good time to learn more about the Irish culture, stories of Irish immigrants and the contributions Irish-Americans have made to the United States. One of those contributions was a large workforce of able bodied persons that helped drive the country into the modern world with many working in construction building bridges, railroads and skyscrapers. Another significant contribution was on the labor practices of America. Mary Harris, also know as Mother Jones fought for worker’s rights, the abolition of child labor and improving working conditions. Irish immigrants brought a musical heritage of Irish dancing which is performed with intricate foot work. Watching a performance of “Riverdance” can really get you in the Irish mood! And don’t forget about a few famous Irish ballads such as “Danny Boy, “My Wild Irish Rose” and “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”.
Of course you don’t have to be Irish-American to join in the celebration! Let’s take a look at some traditions I am sure you are familiar with and some facts that may surprise you! Did you know:
- The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held in New York not Ireland
- The traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage was actually modified from bacon and cabbage
- St. Patrick actually wore blue not green
- Blue food coloring is used to dye beer, not green because the blue pigment mixes with the beer’s amber hue to make the beer green
- You get pinched on St. Patrick’s Day for not wearing green because green makes you invisible to leprechauns and leprechauns like to pinch people!
Our trip into Irish-American Heritage would not be complete without knowing some Irish blessings and proverbs. I think you will find these to be as true today as when they originated.
- May the road rise up to meet you
- May your home always be too small to hold all your friends
- May your heart be light and happy, may your smile be big and wide, and may your pockets always have a coin or two inside
- You will never plough a field by turning it over in your mind
- Many hands make light work
So a famous Irish toast to you, “Sláinte” or Good Health!!