Profs and Pints Boston in a debut collaboration with The Conversation presents: “A History of America’s Irish,” with Edward T. O'Donnell, associate professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross and author of 1001 Things Everyone Should Know about Irish American History.
Every chapter of U.S. history has been shaped by the millions of immigrants who have arrived on our shores over the centuries. This is especially true when it comes to the Irish, who began arriving here in View more
Profs and Pints Boston in a debut collaboration with The Conversation presents: “A History of America’s Irish,” with Edward T. O’Donnell, associate professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross and author of 1001 Things Everyone Should Know about Irish American History.
Every chapter of U.S. history has been shaped by the millions of immigrants who have arrived on our shores over the centuries. This is especially true when it comes to the Irish, who began arriving here in the early 17th century and have played a major role in shaping our nation and its institutions ever since.
Gear up for Saint Patrick’s Day the smart way by coming to the Sam Adams brewery to learn about the history of the Irish in America from a leading expert on the subject, Dr. Edward O’Donnell of the College of the Holy Cross, an engaging speaker regularly featured in history documentaries. His talk is being brought to you by Profs and Pints, a social enterprise devoted to democratizing access to higher learning that has been selling out venues and earning loyal followings in Washington D.C., Chicago, and other cities. It is teaming up with The Conversation, a nonprofit, independent news organization dedicated to unlocking the knowledge of experts for the public good, to stage its Boston debut in a brewery named for an American patriot who surely knew the value of the exchange of ideas.
Professor O’Donnell will take us on a trip back through time to colonial America, when people from Ireland—mainly its north—accounted for about a third of Europeans sailing across the Atlantic to our shores. You’ll learn about the role that the Irish played in the American Revolution, and how three of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Irish born while many others were of Irish ancestry. Three sons of Irish immigrants would rise to be U.S. presidents.
Moving ahead, Dr. O’Donnell will discuss the waves of Irish immigrants who arrived in the 1800s, especially in response to Ireland’s Great Famine of 1845 to 1850. He’ll discuss in detail how Irish Americans filled cities like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, often living in poverty in crowded slums like those depicted in Martin Scorsese’s film Gangs of New York. They were greeted with nativist bigotry so prevalent it grew into a full-blown political movement, the Know Nothings, that endeavored to drive them from America.
These immigrants and their descendants gained a foothold here partly by establishing ethnic institutions, labor unions, and political machines, but also through their association with the Catholic Church. Anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiment diminished significantly in the early 20th century due to Irish American upward mobility and the shifting of nativists’ ire toward new wave of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe.
You’ll gain a firm understanding of how such developments shaped the lives and views of the more than 40 million U.S. residents who identify as Irish American. After all, as any potato farmer can tell you, you can learn a lot by examining roots. (Advance tickets: $12. Doors: $15, or $13 with a student ID. Talk starts a half hour after listed time, so please allow yourself plenty of time to get seated and served. Profs and Pints will require proof of vaccination to enter the event space and will ask that you wear a mask except while eating or drinking.)