Irish Coming To America

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For a long time in American history, there has been a desire for “Irish” music. What qualifies as “Irish” has been left to interpretation; a concept that will be further explored in this thesis. The first Irish Catholic immigrants in seventeenth century America were, in many cases, indentured servants and treated poorly. The music the Irish brought with them took on romantic associations among the white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASP) Americans, as well as among the Irish themselves. While my thesis focuses on the music that was popular in vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley roughly between 1880 and 1930, it is necessary to look further back at the history of the music and socio-political state that Irish immigrants and Irish-Americans had faced in first coming to America. The Irish started emigrating to North America…show more content…
“By 1840 the potato had become the sole food of one third of the of the people and an essential element in the diet of many more” (Williams 1996, p. 17). When the blight struck, hundreds of thousands died of starvation between 1845 and 1848. The Irish were in a state of panic and hopelessness. During 1845 and 1851, it is estimated that around 1.6 million people left Ireland for America. As Williams eloquently states, arriving in America, the Irish immigrants had to adjust to their new country and Americans had to adjust to their new fellow citizens. Although coming to “a land of immigrants,” the Irish were in many ways the first “emigrant group.” Arriving in such numbers that Americans were not prepared to receive them. Americans were, however, prepared to recognize the Irish, thanks to a set of stereotypes that were already a part of the Anglo-American culture; a romantic stereotype of the exile in flight from a tragic land of beauty; and a comic stereotype of the wild, irresponsible Paddy (Williams 1996, p.

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