Irish Immigration- The Potato Famine

November 21, 1847 Boston, Massachusetts:
Ladies and gents, once again it is Thomas Crowley here reporting for the Baltimore Sun, your number one source for news about our fine country. Once again, there are issues with these Irish folks coming to America, however, now the issues have escalated higher than they ever have before. Last time I wrote an article about the Irish was about thirteen years ago, when the Irish population in America was nothing compared to what it is now. I mean, if you think there’s gonna be some scuffles with 200,000 Irish Immigrants total, which is how many there were all of last decade, try 500,000 in the past 7 years. That’s right, 500,000 immigrants in less than a decade have come to our beautiful country since 1840.

And these are not the type of immigrants we had last decade either: they’re worse. Much worse. At least the last flock had a little bit of money and knew how to work. Now we’ve got the immigrants coming from that big Potato Famine from 1845. Most of the people who decided to emigrate from Ireland during the famine are the poor people without a lot of land because they had nothing when the famine hit. Also, this famine is causin’ people to stop havin’ families because of all of the expenses and whatnot that a family demands and when you’re not leaving a family back in Ireland, it makes immigrating much easier emotionally.

In Boston specifically, of our 115,000 population at the moment, over 37,000 of the people here are Irish Immigrants. They live in small towns, residing in shacks and small houses made out of debris and wooden boards. Most of the women work as servants, while many of the men work unloadin’ ships and doing construction work that doesn’t require any skill at all. In order to find out more about the lifestyles of these immigrants and their motivation for coming to our fine country, I went to a small, primarily Irish town near the Boston waterfront to have a conversation with one.

The second I got to the small town, I was surprised at the poor quality of the houses. I had heard that they lived in shacks, but I never really took it literally. The houses were very small and not well-maintained, but hey, at least we are letting them stay somewhere it’s gotta be better than life in Ireland. The houses seemed dirty and unsanitary and I did not plan on stepping foot in one, so I walked around the neighborhoods in this small town, looking for someone who was walking the streets who I could speak with. I found a man walkin’ the streets who looked like he had just returned from work. His face was tired and worn out.

“Hello, this is Thomas Crowley from the Baltimore Sun, your number one source for news about our fine country. Where are you comin’ from?”
“My name is Doug Coughlin. I just got back from my ten-hour shift at the dock unloadin’ the ships. I’m tired but I made me ten dollars and at least I’ve got a job. Gotta go pay my damn landlord my $1.50 for the week now.”
“How long have you been here and how has the American experience been for you?”
“I’ve been here for almost a year now. The damn Potato Famine ruined everything. Can’t raise no family can’t do anything there without land. So I came here to work and maybe start a family if I can. Came over here on one of those damn coffin ships filled with hundreds of others lookin’ for the same things that I

Pictured: Doug Coughlin, Irish Immigrant

Pictured: Doug Coughlin, Irish Immigrant

was. Luckily I found a job, I guess life’s a little better here because I’m makin’ a little money. Back in Ireland I could make ten cents an hour if I was lucky- here in America I’m gettin’ a buck every hour! The Americans don’t treat us Irish people too well though. We’re still crammed in these crummy shacks with no water and no sanitation and my damn American landlord is rippin’ me off chargin’ $1.50 a week to stay in this area.”

Some interesting words from Doug there, we thank him for the time. As you can see, we’re payin’ the Irish ten times more than they were getting in Ireland they should be grateful. Sure, there’s some complainin’ about the quality of life here for immigrants but hey, it’s gotta be better than it was in famined Ireland. In Ireland at the moment, “the districts are now being depopulated by starvation, coffins are only being used for the more wealthy” (1).

With more and more immigrants coming in, of course there is more religious tension because almost all of these Irish folks are Catholics and most Americans are Protestants. There haven’t been any big riots or outbreaks in recent years, but there is still tension and disagreement between the two groups. Not only is religion an issue, but these Irish people are also aggressive and obnoxious and the crime rate has risen 400% in the last five years due to these Irish people who like to roam the streets and cause trouble. All the Irish have done for us it seems is take our jobs and commit crimes here lately and Americans are not happy about it, rightfully so. I will write again soon about this topic if issues persist or any new situations arise.

Thomas Crowley, Baltimore Sun

Works Cited:

1) W. Stewart Trench, Realities of Irish Life (London: Longmans, Green, 1847).

2) “Irish American.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 14 Nov. 2013. <;.

3) “The History Place – Irish Potato Famine: Gone to America.” The History Place – Irish Potato Famine: Gone to America. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. <;.

4)”Irish Immigrants in America during the 19th Century.” Irish Immigrants in America during the 19th Century. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2013. <;.


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