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Irish Come to America and Receive Poor Treatment

by Lauren Adamek

May 1851By 1850, more than one million lives were taken from Ireland due to hunger and disease. The potato blight caused severe disaster throughout Ireland, and we in America are being affected by it. Thousands if Irish are flocking to America in hopes of a better life. They have heard that America is free of poverty, disease, and oppression, and they have all come to fulfill this hope.

Unfortunately, the Irish have not had good experiences. They travel to America in ships known as "coffin ships". One third of the passengers on these ships die before even reaching the United States. The cramped spaces, little food, and unsanitary conditions are the cause of starvation, disease, and death.

Things have not gotten better for those who reached America. As the ships dock, many people swarm aboard grabbing immigrants and their bags trying to get them to pay large fees to stay in their tenement house. These houses are filled with extraordinary numbers of Irish and they are filthy and infested with rats and insects. The Irish look for jobs constantly, but they are often met by signs outside of the stores that read, "No Irish Need Apply." Some of the more lucky men are employed doing the heavy work of building bridges, canals, and railroads. This work is so dangerous that it is said that an "Irishman is buried under every tie". The women are employed chambermaids, cooks, and caretakers of children.

No group in America is considered lower than the Irish. We ridicule them for their accents and dress and laugh at their poverty and illiteracy. Even the Negroes hate the Irish. They call them "white nigger" and have no respect for them at all. Due to this horrible treatment they have received, the Irish seems to have become aggressive. They fight back when insulted and all of are pubs have become filled with drunken Irishmen. In addition, the Irish Catholic Church has become militant in fighting for the rights of the Irish. After speaking with an Irish priest, he claims that "Irishmen will soon regain their rightful position in society." As for now, Irish still seem to be disrupting American society and are generally, not liked.