Irish Immigration to America

Pushes and Pulls

In the summer of 1845 the Phytophthora infestans blight broke out destroying nearly all potato crops in Ireland. Over three million of the Irish lived solely off of this crop, for it was the only one that could be afforded by Ireland's overwhelmingly impoverished population that could keep them full. When the once abundant potatoes began to disappear the whole nation was struggling to survive. Most lived in one room cabins shared with several family members and animals such as pigs and chickens. Their cabins had minimal furniture, if any at all, meaning most would work long days farming and come home to eat a potato then fall asleep on the floor. Situations were not optimal, however when the time the potato famine came along many who could barely make due before were not holding up. This resulted in over one million deaths between the start of the potato famine to 1852, many more died from diseases due to a weaken immune system from lack of food. This was one of many reasons over 2 million of the Irish perused a fresh start in the United States. Another reason the Irish were attracted to the idea of living in America was that there was a high demand for manual labor, which was what they were used to. Many of the Irish that were coming to America were unable to read or write, so the thought of being able to work in a growing economy requiring skills that they had, while not having to worry about starving to death was seen as a great opportunity among many of them.

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Treatment and Journey to the United States

Another reason so many of the Irish immigrated was because they were forced by their landlords. Many of the landlords were wealthy Protestants that owned the land and rented it to the poor Catholic majority to farm and live on. When the potato blight broke out many landlords took it upon themselves to send tenants failing to pay rent to America. One example being the Lord Ashburton ship that took 477 Irish immigrants to America in October of 1847. Ships like the Lord Ashburton were full of sickness, for 107 people died on their journey to America. This was one of the many coffin ships that took the Irish from their home country to the United States. When the Irish got the United States they were mistreated and considered unintelligent. This was due to their economic status and their lack of education, and because of this many of the Irish were unemployed or didn't get wages and were given food and rent for their services. The Irish had it tough. Their journey started with struggle in their home country causing them to leave their homes just to be mistreated once they got here.

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Irish Contributions to Modern American Society

Despite the rough start the Irish had in the United States, they ended up accomplishing a lot and contributing greatly to modern society. In 1953 the sons of Irish immigrants, Richard and Maurice McDonald, started a small franchise that he called McDonald's. That small franchise now serves about 1% of the human population daily according to the Societe Gererale (French multinational bank). McDonald's has forever changed the food industry and practically invented the idea of fast food. Richard McDonald himself said "Our whole concept was based on speed, lower prices and volume". He and his brother believed that food should be convenient. McDonald explains an example of what made him come up with the concept of a drive through "guy comes in, you ask him what he wants on his burgers; he says, 'I got to go back to the car to ask my wife.' Wouldn't work".

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