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Newspaper Kentucky Irish American (Louisville, Ky.) 1898-1968 Irish American

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About Kentucky Irish American (Louisville, Ky.) 1898-1968

First published on July 4, 1898, a date chosen to reflect resolute patriotism and devotion to community interests, Louisville’s Kentucky Irish American was one of the nation’s most durable ethnic newspapers and at its close one of three Irish-American newspapers in the United States. Later renowned for its satirical examination of politics, sports, and popular culture, the weekly that the Pulitzer Prize-winning sportswriter Red Smith ranked just above bread and slightly below whiskey as a necessity in his home attracted politicians, intellectuals, and plain folk across Kentucky and the nation.

Founded by William M. Higgins (1852-1925), a typesetter who had moved to Louisville from Syracuse, New York, the Kentucky Irish American was initially devoted to the defense and advancement of the community it served. During its earliest decades it opposed any organization or interest understood to be anti-Irish, anti-Catholic, or anti-Democratic, including Great Britain, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Republican Party. It was pointedly critical of what it perceived as the pro-British sentiment of Henry Watterson’s Louisville Courier-Journal during the years preceding American intervention in World War I, and it frequently responded to anti-Catholic sentiments in Louisville’s two Baptist newspapers, the Western Recorder and The Baptist World. A casual racism, exercised in descriptions of African Americans, was also evident in the Kentucky Irish American’s earliest years and was often tied to the paper’s partisan opposition to the Republican Party. This changed in the 1950s and 1960s as the paper strenuously supported civil rights. Circulation never increased to more than several thousand, but the paper could count among its subscribers the likes of Harry Truman and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr.

Shortly after the newspaper’s creation, John J. Barry (1877-1950) became a financial partner with Higgins. Barry, a native of Louisville’s Irish-American neighborhood of Limerick, inherited the paper in 1925 after Higgins died at its offices. In turn, John J. Barry’s son, John Michael Barry (1909-92), would become the newspaper’s editor after his father’s death. Mike Barry had written for the paper since the early 1930s, but under his editorial leadership the small, family paper entered its golden age, reinvented as a pointedly independent and broadly Democratic weekly. Self-described as the “World’s Greatest Handicapper,” Mike Barry passionately addressed not only horse racing and other sports, but also politics and the perplexing nature of modern life. Barry’s writing was incisive and mordantly funny. No politician or public figure was spared, but Mike Barry’s most beloved target was Albert B. Chandler, Kentucky’s Democratic governor, senator, and commissioner of baseball. Barry famously observed that “Any time Chandler is referred to…as ‘Kentucky’s favorite son,’ it should be made unmistakably clear that sentence is incomplete.”

Without flourish, the Kentucky Irish American published its last issue on November 30, 1968, and with it passed a paper once described as “all the excuse any man needs for learning to read.”

Provided By: University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

About this Newspaper


  • Kentucky Irish American (Louisville, Ky.) 1898-1968

Other Title

  • Irish American

Dates of Publication

  • 1898-1968

Created / Published

  • Louisville, Ky. : William M. Higgins, 1898-1968.


  • -  Irish Americans--Kentucky--Newspapers
  • -  Louisville (Ky.)--Newspapers
  • -  Jefferson County (Ky.)--Newspapers
  • -  Irish Americans
  • -  Kentucky
  • -  Kentucky--Jefferson County
  • -  Kentucky--Louisville
  • -  United States--Kentucky--Jefferson--Louisville


  • Newspapers


  • -  Weekly
  • -  Vol. 1, no. 1 (July 4, 1898)-v. 140, no. 22 (Nov. 30, 1968).
  • -  Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.


  • v.

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Newspaper

Library of Congress Control Number

  • sn86069180

OCLC Number

  • 13689268

ISSN Number

  • 1943-8931

Additional Metadata Formats


Rights & Access

The Library of Congress believes that the newspapers in Chronicling America are in the public domain or have no known copyright restrictions. Newspapers published in the United States more than 95 years ago are in the public domain in their entirety. Any newspapers in Chronicling America that were published less than 95 years ago are also believed to be in the public domain, but may contain some copyrighted third party materials. Researchers using newspapers published less than 95 years ago should be alert for modern content (for example, registered and renewed for copyright and published with notice) that may be copyrighted. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item.

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Kentucky Irish American Louisville, Ky. -1968. (Louisville, KY), Jan. 1 1898.

APA citation style:

(1898, January 1) Kentucky Irish American Louisville, Ky. -1968. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Kentucky Irish American Louisville, Ky. -1968. (Louisville, KY) 1 Jan. 1898. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,