THE IRISH HELPED BUILD AMERICA by Virginia B. McDonnell

THE IRISH HELPED BUILD AMERICA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For all the guff they had to take, the Irish can be forgiven a little blarney. This takes a (hypothetical?) family from famine-stricken County Cavan to the slums of New York, sets them to work -- hard -- and, with their rise from ""Sod House"" to ""Lace Curtain"" Irish, scans the fortunes of their compariots as well: the festive Sundays and wakes which affronted Protestants and the general hostility between the two groups; the establishment of parochial schools to counter Protestant control of public systems; the paddies digging canals, laying tracks, mining and making garments -- everywhere exploited until they organized into unions; Tammany Hall as access to political power; the ""Fighting Irish"" and other units in the Civil War and succeeding wars; everyday Irish as firemen and policemen; the route to respectable citizenship in the professions; notable professionals in many fields. Areas of possible contention include a plug for public support of Catholic schools that omits mention of the changes in public education since Protestant hegemony, that implies also that all Catholic children go to Catholic schools; seemingly complete credit to the Irish for founding labor unions; presentation of Tammany Hall as a benevolent society, sweeping corruption under a carpet of ignorance and innocence. on the other hand, there's a timely point: that the Irish were encouraged to becomes policeman because it was felt they could best deal with their unruly old-countrymen. A short book larded with photos for younger children, and it will make the Irish proud even if it sometimes gets your Irish up.

Pub Date: April 21st, 1969
Publisher: Messner