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map of IrelandCELTIC ROOTS: Stories, Songs and Traditions from Across the Sea

Performed: March 13, 2002

The majority of Americans trace their family origins to a country other than the United States. Many immigrants came to this country seeking greater freedom or an opportunity for a better life. Some came against their will and were forced to provide labor that helped build the nation. Immigrants brought with them a pride in their heritage, and distinctive cultural traditions and values.

The Irish who entered the United States from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries were changed by America, just as they changed this nation. They achieved lives that would not have been possible in Ireland, supporting their families and bringing a better life to their fellow Irish in the United States and in Ireland.

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Jump to:  Program | Background | Activities for Kids | Reading Lists and Web Links

Program:

Welcome and Introduction
Diane Nester Kresh
Director, Public Service Collections, Library of Congress

1. Irish Aire
Steve Hickman, Fiddle, Myron Bretholz, Bodran

2. Muse of Amergin - 9th Century
James Houton,
The Washington Revels

3. Cutty Wren
The Washington Revels

4. Sally Gardens
The Washington Revels

5. Immigrants Travel to America: Life in the New World
Diane Kresh, Library of Congress

Image of Granny sitting on the rocks6. An Irish Ceilidh and Health to the Company
The Washington Revels

7. Community Dance
The Washington Revels

8. A Touch of the Blarney: The Irish Storytelling Tradition
Diane Kresh, Library of Congress

9. The Adventures of Finn MacCoul and other Folk Heroes
James Houton, The Washington Revels

10. Introduction to Irish Poetry
Diane Kresh, Library of Congress

11. Wild Mountain Thyme
The Washington Revels

12. Mummers Plays and Folk Dramas
Roberta Gasbarre, The Washington Revels

13. Mummers Play: Straw Boys
The Washington Revels

14. Hi Ho the Rattlin' Bog
The Washington Revels

Questions and Answers
Library of Congress and The Washington Revels

The visual materials used today were drawn from the collections of the Library of Congress and may be found in the Geography and Map, Motion Picture Broadcast Recorded Sound, Music, Prints and Photographs, Rare Book and Special Collections divisions and the general book collections of the Library of Congress.

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Background:

Immigration and the Irish

Image of Immigrants looking at the Statue of LibertyThe majority of Americans trace their family origins to a country other than the United States. Many immigrants came to this country seeking greater freedom or an opportunity for a better life. Some came against their will and were forced to provide labor that helped build the nation. Immigrants brought with them a pride in their heritage, and distinctive cultural traditions and values.

So who is an "American"? We all are! As former President Jimmy Carter said, "We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams."

The Irish, who contribute a large piece to this national mosaic, began arriving in America during the Colonial Period. They continued coming, in increasingly large numbers, over the next centuries. As many as 4.5 million Irish arrived in America between 1820 and 1930. In time, the sum total of Irish-Americans exceeded the entire population of Ireland and New York City boasted more Irishmen than Dublin, Ireland!

For many Irish immigrants, life in the United States was hard. They experienced a limited choice of affordable housing, discrimination in the work force, relegation to the most menial and dangerous jobs, religious conflict and persecution, and ethnic stereotyping and slurs. Similar difficulties have been experienced by subsequent waves of newcomers to the United States.

The Irish established other patterns followed by later immigrant groups, as well. Many Irish-Americans sent financial support to families remaining in the homeland and brought additional family members to the United States over time.

The Irish contributed to the "American culture" in many ways. They became political and religious leaders. They used their drive and charm (and their "way with words") to achieve special success in journalism, entertainment and sports. Popular perceptions of the fierce Irish temper, introduced such terms as "Donneybrook" and "Fighting Irish" to the American language.

Image of Finn MacCoulThe Irish who entered the United States from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries were changed by America, just as they changed this nation. They achieved lives that would not have been possible in Ireland, supporting their families and bringing a better life to their fellow Irish in the United States and in Ireland.

A Giant of a Man

Fionn mac Cumhail (Finn MacCoul, Finn MacCool) was the greatest leader of the Fianna; the military elite of ancient Ireland responsible for guarding the High King. The Fianna were founded in 300 B.C. by the High King Fiachadh (fee-a-kuh). Until Fionn mac Cumhail implemented a code of honor among them, the Fianna had a reputation of being a somewhat unruly bunch of men who considered themselves, to some small degree, above the law, due to their position of power. Fionn challenged the Fianna to become champions of the people; to make of themselves models of chivalry and justice that others may aspire to. The tales of the Fianna are argued to be the basis of those of the Knights of the Round Table of England, with Arthur as their leader as Fionn was leader of the Fianna. He was also father of the great poet Oisín (o-sheen).

One of the most celebrated characters in Irish mythology, he became the leading warrior of the Fianna, the band of fierce Leinster warriors.

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ACTIVITIES: Game for Kids!

(1) What in the world are you saying?

See if you can match each Irish saying with its meaning:

1. Dead on
2. Fairly lively
3. Fair play to you
4. Get on like a house on fire
5. Handy with his feet
6. I've got a mouth on me
7. Pull your socks up
8. What about ye
A. Approval for someone
B. Get along well with someone
C. Get to work
D. Good dancer
E. Great, perfect
F. How are you
G. I'm hungry
H. With great haste

Answers at the bottom of this page

(2) Can You Speak Irish?

Although they speak English in Ireland, you may not always understand what is being said.
See if you can match each Irish word with its meaning.

1. Biscuit
2. Bolt
3. Chinwag
4. Crisps
5. Deadly
6. Dodder
7. Flicks
8. Gravy Ring
9. Holliers
10. Ice Lolly
11. Jammy
12. Messages
13. Perishing
14. Poke
15. Scratcher
16. Snapper
17. Strand
18. Sweets
A. Baby, Child
B. Beach
C. Bed
D. Candy
E. Chat
F. Cookie
G. Cool, Great
H. Doughnut
I. Freezing
J. Groceries
K. Ice Cream Cone
L. Lucky
M. Movies
N. Popscicle
O. Potato Chips
P. Run Fast
Q. Vacations
R. Waste Time

Answers at the bottom of this page

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Reading Lists and Web Links:

Fiction and Stories

Colum, Padraic, ed. A Treasury of Irish Folklore: The Stories, Traditions, Legends, Humor, Wisdom, Ballads and Songs of the Irish People (New York: Kilkenny Press, 1989 [reprint of New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1967]).

Conlon-McKenna, Marita. Wildflower girl / Marita Conlon-McKenna. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Puffin Books, 1994. 172 p. ; 18 cm.

Evslin, Bernard. The green hero: early adventures of Finn McCool / by Bernard Evslin illustrated by Barbara Bascove. New York: Four Winds Press, [1975] 181 p. : ill.; 24 cm

Evslin, Bernard. Pig's Ploughman / Bernard Evslin. New York: Chelsea House, 1990. 86 p., [I] leaf of plates: col. ill.; 24 cm.

Gleeson, Brian. Finn McCoul / written by Brian Gleeson; illustrated by Peter de [email protected] New York, NY: Rabbit Ears Books, el 995. I v. (unpaged): col. ill.;22x26 cm

O'Grady, Standish, 1846-1928. Fionn and his companions. Illustrated by Brid Ni Rinn.Finn and his companions. Dublin, Talbot Press [ 1 970] 124 p. illus. 21 cm.

Rolleston, T. W. (Thomas William), 1857-1920. The high deeds of Finn and other bardic romances of ancient Ireland. With an introd. by Stopford A. Brooke. New York, Lemma Pub. Corp., 1973. Iv, 214 p. illus. 22 cm.

Historical Resources

Coffee, Michael, ed. and Terry Golway. The Irish in America. New York: Hyperion, c1997.

Coleman, Terry. Going to America / by Terry Coleman. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1987, c 1 972. 317 p., [32) p. of plates : ill. 22 cm.

Glassie, Henry H. All silver and no brass an Irish Christmas mumming / Henry Glassie illustrated by the author. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, c 1 975. xx, 192 p., [4) leaves of plates: ill.; 25 cm.

Greenhill, Basil. The Great Migration: Crossing the Atlantic Under Sail. London: H.M.S.O. [for the] National Maritime Museum, 1968. 32 p., ill., facsims., maps.

lbion, Robert Greenhalgh. The Rise of New York Port (I 815-1860). With the collaboration of Jennie Bames Pope. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1939,1984. xiv, 485 p., ill., tables, plates, ports., maps, bibliography. Chapter 16, "Human Freight," refers to immigrants who arrived at the Port of New York from Europe.

Jones, Maldwyn Allen. Destination America. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1976. 256 p., ill., bibliography. Focuses on 150 years of mass European immigration to America beginning in 1815, concentrating "on the people who contributed the greatest numbers to the confluent tides of immigration: the Irish, British, Germans, Scandinavians, Italians, and east-European Jews."

Miller, Kerby A. Out of Ireland: the story of Irish emigration to America / by Kerby Miller and Paul Wagner. Washington, D.C. : Elliott & Clark Pub., cl994. 132 p. : ill. ; 29 cm.

Novotny, Ann. Strangers at the Door: Ellis Island, Castle Garden, and the Great Migration to America. Riverside, Conn.: Chatham Press, 1971. 160 p., ill., bibliography. Includes four lopicture essays."

Shepperson, Wilbur Stanley. British Emigration to North America: Projects and Opinions in the Early Victorian Period. Oxford: Blackwell, 1957. xvi, 302 p., ill., facsims., tables.

United States. Congress. Senate. Select Committee on Sickness and Mortality on Board Emigrant Ships. Report of the Select Committee of the Senate of the United States on the Sickness and Mortality on Board Emigrant Ships / Hamilton Fish [chairman]. New York: Amo Press, 1977. 147 p. ; 24 cm.

Vallely, Fintan, ed. The Companion to Irish Traditional Music (New York: New York University Press, c1999).

Library of Congress Web Resources

Library of Congress Local History and Genealogy Reading Room
http://www.loc.gov/rr/genealogy/

The Immigration Experience
http://www.loc.gov/rr/genealogy/bib_guid/immigrant/exper.html

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Reading Room
http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/

Selected Images of Ellis Island and Immigration, ca. 1880-1920
http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/070_immi.html

Personal narratives and correspondence
http://www.loc.gov/rr/genealogy/bib_guid/immigrant/personal.html

Lesson Plans
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/learn/lessons/theme.html

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Answers to Acitivities:

Activity One: 1-E, 2-H, 3-A, 4-B, 5-D, 6-G, 7-C, 8-F

Activity Two: 1-F, 2-P, 3-E, 4-O, 5-G, 6-R, 7-M, 8-H, 9-Q, 10-N, 11-L, 12-J, 13-I, 14-K, 15-C, 16-A, 17-B, 18-D

 
Home About Zora! Leonardo Celtic Roots Spaelimenninir Hidden Washington Additional Programs
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  April 4, 2016
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