Irish Contributions to the American Culture
Despite the competition for jobs, many Irish immigrants supported
and became leaders of union efforts, perhaps because they so well
understood the power of organizing to meet needs. For instance,
Mary Harris, later known as Mother Jones, committed more than fifty
years of her life to unionizing workers in various occupations throughout
the country. Her dedicated effort resulted in arrests, personal
attacks, and many hardships but she also earned audiences with United
States presidents from McKinley to Coolidge.
New Deal appointments a decade later enabled Irish politicians
to gain the national spotlight through judgeships and other federal
positions. These appointments served as precursors to the future
success of Irish-American elected leaders such as Chicago Mayor
Richard Daley and President John F. Kennedy.
The great number of 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.
In turn these immigrants
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 "Paddy
Wagon," "Donnybrook" and "Fighting Irish"
to the American language. Among the early immigrants to the United
States, the Irish are now assimilated in all aspects of this nation,
but they still retain pride and identity in their Irish heritage.