Irland Essay, Research Paper
Like most Americans, my family is made up of many
different ethnic groups. My mom’s side is Irish Protestant descent.
My dad’s side is mostly English descent and a little of Native
American descent from his mother. There is some in which I do
not know because my dad does not know who his dad is. He was
adopted by a man named David Mitchell, this is where my last
name comes from. My grandmother died and never told my dad
who his dad was. My dad could find out from his birth
certificate, which is sealed in Albany, who his dad is. He has no
desire to do that though.
Over the summer, I tried to find out about my family’s
ancestry. I only searched on my mom’s side since it is easier.
This is for two reasons, first my mom’s parents are still alive.
Second because they came to the United States only about one
hundred years ago. Both my grandparent’s families came from
Northern Ireland. My grandparents were born in the United
States. My grandfather brought me over my cousin’s house
because she had a copy of my great grandmother’s birth certificate.
This told me what town she was from. I also found out that I had
other cousins that live in Canada that were from Northern Ireland.
Many Irish people immigrated to Canada because it was cheaper
than going to the United States. She told me that they would have
more information of family that lives in Northern Ireland. My
grandfather gave me a book called “ The World Book of Craig’s “
which is his last name. It gave me places to write to for further
information and also gave me addresses of all the Craig’s all over
the world. I learned that my grandmother’s family is from Belfast
and my grandfather’s family is from a town called Bellymena.
They are both located in the county of Antrim in Northern
Ireland. They descended from Presbyterian Scots who settled in
Northern Ireland in the seventeenth century.
In doing further research I found that the Irish, both
Protestant and Catholic, was the largest immigration group in the
United States. At one point there were more Irish in the United
States than in Ireland. The Irish immigrated in two waves. The
first wave was Scotch Irish from 1760 – 1775. They found it easy
to sustain old world ways because they came over in such a large
group. This is because they settled into towns. They were fleeing
from economic distress and religious distress since Irish laws
favored Anglicans over Presbyterians and Catholics. They wanted
to obtain land and to make a profit in the New World. The second
wave came around 1845 – 1849. They were Irish Catholics. The
reason that they migrated to the United States in such mass
numbers is because first of overpopulation and then because of the
Great Famine. The failure of the staple crop, the potato, caused
many Irish to starve to death.
When my ancestors migrated to the United States
around the turn of the century, like most immigrants they came for
a better way of life. At the time in history, Ireland was slowly
getting over the Potato Famine and struggling with England for
independence. My family had an easy transition in the United
States because they already had family in New York and in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Unlike Catholics which faced
discrimination, my family didn’t because they were Protestant.
The Catholics were discriminated because of fear that the unskilled
Irish Catholic would displace American craftsmen. Also because
the slums inhabited in part by the Irish were undermining the
nation’s values. Every social problem from immortality and
alcoholism to poverty and economic upheaval was blamed on
immigrant Irish Catholics. The country was Protestant – biased.
On my father’s side, I know very little. I have learned
that my ancestry runs all the way back to the seventeenth century
from England. They were one of the first people in the New World
looking for wealth and opportunity. I had ancestry that fought in
the American Revolution. I also have Native American ancestry
from Cherokee and Iroquois. My grandmother’s last name was
Partington, which is a name of nobility in England. They were
loyalists. There was a Partington that died in the Civil War at the
Battle of Gettysburg. There was another ancestor by the name of
Terry that was a commander in the Civil War. This is all I know
about my father’s family.
I think that all or most of our traditions are
Americanized. We go to a Protestant church, have turkey on
Thanksgiving, put a real Christmas tree up at Christmas time
and get together on birthdays. Our family just does not have that
many big traditions that stand out. Though on Christmas Eve we
go over my parents friend’s house and we eat German food, even
though we are not German.
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Boulder: Robert Rinehart.
Vaughan, W.E. (1989). A new history of Ireland 1801-1870.
New York: Oxford University Press.
Reeves, P. (1991). Ellis Island.
New York: Michael Friedman Publishing Group.
(1968). Encyclopedia of Ireland.
Dublin: Allen Figgs.
Ernst, R. (1949). Immigration life in New York City 1825-1863.
New York: Octagon Books.