Irish-American Heritage Month: March 2014


DNA Test Reveals 10% Irish Ancestry

From my ancestry.com DNA report–A Look Into My Irish Ancestry – Primarily in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, but some lived in France, and England:

Emerald IsleI guess the DNA results that revealed my blood lineage as 10 percent Irish, allow me to legitimately wear green today to honor my Irish heritage.  Ireland, called the Emerald Isle for its rolling green hills, is the second largest island in the British Isles, just off the west coast of Britain. Along with Wales, Scotland and a handful of other isolated communities in the area, it is the last holdout of the ancient Celtic languages that were once spoken throughout much of western Europe. Though closely tied to England, both geographically and historically, the Irish have fiercely maintained their unique character throughout the centuries.

My family’s Irish Surnames:

Irish Ancestry 1Irish Ancestry 2

People of prehistoric Ireland and Scotland

After the Ice Age glaciers retreated from northern Europe more than 9,000 years ago, hunter, gatherers, and farmers spread north into what is now Great Britain and Ireland. Around 500 B.C., the Bronze Age culture spread across all of western Europe, including the British Isles. These new people originated in central Europe, near what is Austria today. Many tribes existed, but they were collectively known as the Celts.

Population expansion

From around 400 B.C. to 275 B.C., Celtic tribes expanded to the Iberian Peninsula, France, England, Scotland, and Ireland—even as far east as Turkey. As the Roman Empire expanded beyond the Italian peninsula, it began to come into increasing contact with the Celts of France, whom the Romans called “Gauls.”

A Tribe of Gauls on an Expedition by Alphonse De Neuville

 Roman Invasions

The Romans eventually conquered the Gauls and then invaded the British Isles in 43 A.D. They conquered most of southern Britain and occupied it over the course of a few decades. Those Celts who were not assimilated into the Roman Empire and retreated to other areas that remained under Celtic control, such as Wales, Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and Brittany. The Roman presence largely wiped out most traces of Celtic culture in England—even replacing the language. Since the Romans never occupied Ireland or Scotland in any real sense, they are among the few places where Celtic languages have survived to this day.

Another thing the Romans brought was Christianity. During the few hundred years that the Romans occupied Britain, they promoted Christianity with varying degrees of force. Many missionaries traveled to the area and succeeded in converting the Celts from their pagan Druidism, though pagan religions resurfaced after the Roman Empire’s collapse.

Viking invasions

Beginning in the late 8th century, Viking raiders began attacking the east coast of England and the northern islands off Scotland.  During the next few centuries, they controlled parts of the islands, exacting tribute, pillaging villages and monasteries, and occasionally setting up trade outposts. During the 9th century, the Vikings established Dublin in western Ireland as a trade port. Vikings controlled this area of Ireland for nearly 300 years, but their power diminished after heavy losses at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.

Norman Invasions

During the 12th century, Ireland consisted of a number of small warring kingdoms. When Diarmait Mac Murchada, the petty king of Leinster, was deposed by the Irish High King, he turned to England for help. Henry II, the Norman ruler of England, sent Norman mercenaries who assisted Mac Murchada and he regained control of Leinster, though shortly thereafter he died. In 1171, Henry II landed with a large army and seized control of Ireland. With the support of Pope Adrian IV, Henry II took the title “Lord of Ireland” and the Emerald Isle became part of the English Kingdom.

Drawing of Diarmait Mac Murchada, from W.R. Wilde’s A Descriptive Catalogue of the Antiquities in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. 1 (Dublin & London, 1863), page 310.
King Henry II by an unknown artist. Nation Portrait Gallery, London.
Pope Adrian IV

The Norman kings, ruling primarily from France, gave rise to the House of Plantagenet, a line of kings who began to merge and modernize the kingdom of England. Beginning in 1277, Edward I put down a revolt in Wales and led a full-scale invasion of the country, bringing it under control of the English crown. He then seized political control of Scotland during a succession dispute, leading to a rebellion there. Edward’s campaign against the Scots was less successful and remained unresolved at his death. By decisively defeating Edward’s son at Bannockburn in 1314, the Scots assured their independence.

The Great Plague of the 14th century devastated the Norman and English leadership in Ireland. This destruction of outside authority promoted a renewal of Irish political power, culture, and language.

Early modern Ireland

Beginning in 1537 and for the next 70 years, the English monarchy reconquered Ireland. The English attempted to force acceptance of Protestantism among the Irish people, who had mostly remained Catholic. When forced conversion failed, the British Crown replaced the Irish landowners with thousands of Protestant colonists from England and Scotland. England also sold Irish prisoners and “undesirables” to Caribbean plantations as slaves.

The Irish diaspora

Two famines, one in 1740-41 and the second in 1845-52, decimated Ireland. They brought widespread death from starvation and disease and created a massive exodus of refugees. The first famine, caused by severe winter weather, led to the deaths of some 400,000 people; about 150,000 Irish left the country. The second called the “Great Famine,” was the result of potato blight, killing 1 million people by starvation. Another million Irish fled the country, most immigrating to England, Australia, Canada and the United States, creating a worldwide Irish diaspora.

Victims of the Irish Potato Famine immigrate to North America by ship
The Irish Famine: Interior of a Peasant’s Hut by H. Werdmuller

And, from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features

Percentage of U.S. Residents with Irish AncestryOriginally a religious holiday to honor St. Patrick, who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a celebration for all things Irish. The world’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred on March 17, 1762, in New York City, featuring Irish soldiers serving in the English military. This parade became an annual event, with President Truman attending in 1948. Congress proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month in 1995, and the President issues a proclamation commemorating the occasion each year.

From the U.S. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features

MARCH MADNESS/Sports Celebration of Irish Heritage

100,003

Population of South Bend, Ind., home to the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame. About 10.4 percent of South Bend’s population claims Irish ancestry.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/DP02/1600000US1871000>

24.1%

Percentage of the Boston metropolitan area population that claims Irish ancestry, one of the highest percentages for the top 50 metro areas by population. Boston is home of the Celtics of the National Basketball Association.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/DP02/310M100US14460>

78,390 and 16,167

Population of New Rochelle, N.Y., and Moraga, Calif., home to the Gaels of Iona University and St. Mary’s College of California, respectively. During college basketball’s March Madness, you will typically see these universities compete on the court, no doubt rooted on by some of the 8.4 percent of the New Rochelle population and 15.5 percent of the Moraga population that claim Irish ancestry.
Sources: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/DP02/1600000US3650617>
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_5YR/DP02/1600000US0649187>

Population Distribution

34.1 million

Number of U.S. residents who claimed Irish ancestry in 2012. This number was more than seven times the population of Ireland itself (4.6 million). Irish was the nation’s second most frequently reported ancestry, trailing only German.
Sources: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US/popgroup~541>
Ireland Central Statistics Office
<http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/releasespublications/documents/statisticalyearbook/2013/c1population.pdf>

22.6%

Percentage of the population in Massachusetts that claims Irish ancestry, which is among the highest in the nation. New York has 2.5 million people claiming Irish ancestry, which is among the most of any state.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/DP02/0100000US.04000>

153,248

Number of people with Irish ancestry who were naturalized citizens in 2012.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US/popgroup~541>

39.2 years old

Median age of those who claim Irish ancestry, which is higher than U.S. residents as a whole at 37.4 years.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US/popgroup~541>

Irish-Americans Today

34.2%

Percentage of people of Irish ancestry, 25 or older, who had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In addition, 93.4 percent of Irish-Americans in this age group had at least a high school diploma. For the nation as a whole, the corresponding rates were 29.1 percent and 86.4 percent, respectively.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US/popgroup~541>

$59,220

Median income for households headed by an Irish-American, higher than the $51,371 for all households. In addition, 7.4 percent of family households of Irish ancestry were in poverty, lower than the rate of 11.8 percent for all Americans.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US/popgroup~541>

41.1%

Percentage of employed civilian Irish-Americans 16 or older who worked in management, professional and related occupations. Additionally, 25.9 percent worked in sales and office occupations; 15.9 percent in service occupations; 9.3 percent in production, transportation and material moving occupations; and 7.7 percent in natural resources, construction and maintenance occupations.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US/popgroup~541>

68.9%

Percentage of householders of Irish ancestry who owned the home in which they live, with the remainder renting. For the nation as a whole, the homeownership rate was 63.9 percent.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US/popgroup~541>

Places to Spend the Day

16

Number of places in the United States that share the name of Ireland’s capital, Dublin. The most recent population for Dublin, Calif., was 47,156.
Source: 2012 Population Estimates
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/PEP/2012/PEPANNRES/0400000US06.16200>

If you’re still not into the spirit of St. Paddy’s Day, then you might consider paying a visit to Emerald Isle, N.C., with 3,669 residents.
Source: 2012 Population Estimates
<http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/PEP/2012/PEPANNRES/0400000US37.16200>

Other appropriate places in which to spend the day: the township of Irishtown, Ill., several places or townships named Clover (in South Carolina, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) or one of the seven places that are named Shamrock.

The Celebration

25.9 billion

U.S. beef production in pounds in 2012. Corned beef is a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
<http://www.ers.usda.gov/news/BSECoverage.htm>

$21.5 million

Value of potted florist chrysanthemum sales at wholesale in 2012 for operations with $100,000 or more sales. Lime green chrysanthemums are often requested for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
<http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/FlorCrop/FlorCrop-04-25-2013.pdf>

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