chapter  5
20 Pages

How the Irish Became American: Reflections on the History of the Irish in the United States

Identity, both how an individual sees him or herself and how the larger society sees them, is an important aspect in how people fit into the social landscape of their society. For migrants and their children this can be especially challenging. Identity and all that it involves is an important part of the cultural baggage migrants carry and one element in how they will interact with their host society. It is not a constant, but changes over time, an especially important consideration in the case of the Irish. Emigration from Ireland has been an important element in Irish society since the late seventeenth century. The dimensions of this emigration have changed over time in nearly every way. Similarly, the identity or self-image of the host culture is also not fixed, but highly malleable. In the case at hand, the United States, both factors have affected how the Irish have been received and how they saw their place in their new home.