Irish America, Rhode Island and Beyond

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 4:58pm -- baglio

The Irish in America, Rhode Island and Beyond Reading List

The Irish in Rhode Island, and America overall, has had a long standing history. Irish-American roots grow deep throughout our country's history, and have established themselves, in stories, traditions and displays. This reading list will examine Irish-Americans and their impact on both local and national history. From the Kennedys to Paddy Wilson, we can see the importance of Irish Americans on our culture today. 


Irish Titan, Irish Toilers: Joseph Banigan and Nineteenth-Century New England Labor

By,  Scott Molly

In 1847 Joseph Banigan, an Irish Potato Famine refugee, established himself in Rhode Island as an entrepreneur. This was a time when “No Irish Need Apply” signs abounded and discrimination against the Irish and other immigrants—institutionalized in the constitution of his adopted state—hindered voting and other human rights. Bucking this trend and belying his humble origins, Banigan succeeded spectacularly in the emerging local rubber footwear industry, becoming the president of the United States Rubber Company—one of the nation’s major cartels, and New England’s first Irish-Catholic millionaire. Backed by primary and secondary research on two continents, Molloy’s inquiry into Bannigan’s notoriety and success singularly codifies and elucidates the Irish-American experience during this critical period in American labor history.


Joseph P. Kennedy : the Mogul, the Mob, the Statesman, and the Making of an American Myth 

By Ted Schwarz
 He is best known as the patriarch of America’s most loved, hated, and talked-about family. Long before the Kennedy name became synonymous with wealth, political idealism, and agonizing tragedy, however, Joe Kennedy was on the move. This unflinching portrait of the man who sired three major twentieth-century political figures introduces copious new information about Joseph Kennedy’s questionable financial practices, his Hollywood exploits, his tenure as ambassador to Great Britain, and his relationship with organized crime. Drawing on previously untapped sources, author Ted Schwarz provides a rare peek into Joseph Kennedy’s secret activities and public accomplishments, including:

Baseball scams that Kennedy concocted as an adolescent
Kennedy’s cynical manipulation of Franklin Roosevelt’s son
His business dealings with Al Capone
Kennedy’s very public affair with actress Gloria Swanson
How he transformed Hollywood studios into product manufacturers
His dismal performance as ambassador to Great Britain
And much, much more

The Irish in America  

By Michael Coffey with contributions by several others

The companion volume to a PBS television series, a compendium of essays, photographs, and illustrations explores the social, cultural, and political history of Irish Americans through contributions by Pete Hamill, Frank McCourt, Peggy Noonan, and others.

Real Lace: American's Irish Rich 

By Stephen Birmingham

Here, in this engrossing and often hilarious book, Stephen Birmingham explores how the Irish elite emerged in America—frequently in less than a generation’s time—out of poverty into positions of both social and business prominence.

Irish America: Coming into Clover

By, Maureen Dezell

In Irish America, Maureen Dezell takes a new and invigorating look at Americans of Irish Catholic ancestry—who they are, and how they got that way. A welcome antidote to so many standard-issue, sentimental representations of the Irish in the United States, Irish America focuses on popular culture as well as politics; the Irish in the Midwest and West as well as the East; the “new Irish” immigrants; the complicated role of the Church today; and the unheralded heritage of Irish American women. Deftly weaving history, reporting, and the observations of more than 100 men and women of Irish descent on both sides of the Atlantic, Dezell presents an insightful and highly readable portrait of a people and a culture.

The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings

By, Thomas Maier

This is a densely detailed, compelling account of the infamous Kennedy dynasty - with a new understanding of how the Irish Catholic immigrant experience shaped every aspect of their lives. Meticulously researched both in the U.S. and abroad, the book examines the Kennedys as exemplars of the Irish Catholic experience. Author Thomas Maier begins with Patrick Kennedy's arrival in Boston in 1848, then delves into the deeper currents of the Kennedy story and the ways in which their immigrant background shaped their values - and, in turn, 20th-century America - for over five generations. As the first and only Roman Catholic ever elected to a high national office in America, John F. Kennedy ran for president in keeping with the family's tradition of navigating the cultural divide that began in Boston's Irish ward and ended in a tragedy from which the country continues to suffer. Reader Alan Sklar brings his seasoned skills to this moving story of America's first dynasty.

Francis Warde: American Founder of the Sisters of Mercy 

By, Kathleen Healy

Mother Mary Frances Xavier Warde, 1840-1884, was the American founder of the Sisters of Mercy (R.S.M.). Born in Ireland to fairly prosperous parents, she was orphaned in her teens. At age sixteen she moved to Dublin where she met Catherine McAuley, a social service worker, who established the Sisters of Mercy in 1831 to provide for the education and social needs of poor children, orphans, the sick, and homeless young women. Warde immediately joined the new order and became one of McAuley's top assistants. After establishing several convents in Ireland, Warde migrated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the request of Bishop Michael O'Connor. Her educational work on behalf of the Irish immigrants in that city prompted Bishop Bernard O'Reilly in 1851 to invite Warde and four nuns under her direction to Providence. Under Warde's supervision, the Mercy order undertook the education of most young women in parish elementary schools throughout southeastern New England. Warde founded St. Xavier's Academy (1851), the first Catholic secondary school in Rhode Island, and she was also instrumental in the founding of St. Aloysius Orphanage. Her Rhode Island apostolate was highly successful despite intense opposition from anti-Catholic nativists. In March 1855, at the height of the infamous Know-Nothing movement, these zealots threatened to burn the Providence convent of “the female Jesuits,” but were repulsed by Bishop O'Reilly and a group of Irish Catholic defenders. Warde served as superior general of the Mercy order in America until 1858. After her departure from Providence in that year, she continued her missionary work, founding a total of twenty-seven convents in ten states. By the time of her death in 1884 at Manchester, New Hampshire, Warde had been responsible for bringing her new order of nuns to the service of thousands of Catholic immigrants from Maine to California. A well-documented and authoritative biography of this great religious missionary is Kathleen Healy's Frances Warde: American Founder of the Sisters of Mercy (1973). -From the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame


The Boston Irish: A Political History

By, Thomas H. O'Connor

Settling in a city founded by the Puritans, the Boston Irish evolved into one of America's most distinctive ethnic communities and eventually came to dominate local politics. This book offers a history of Boston's Irish community.

Golden Clan: The Murrays, the McDonnells & the Irish American Aristocracy 

By, John Corry

The Murray/ McDonnell clan were the children and grandchildren of inventor Thomas E. Murray, an associate of Thomas Edison's, who was an early summer resident of Southampton, Long Island, New York . Due to their wealth, good looks, and sheer size (one branch, the James Mc Donnells, had 14 children; another, the Thomas E. Murray Jr.s, had 11) they were frequently covered in the social news of the New York press, particularly in the Hearst newspapers by gossip columnist 'Cholly Knickerbocker'. Public interest increased when one Mc Donnell married Henry Ford II, and a Murray cousin Alfred G. Vanderbilt II. Unlike the Kennedy family, with whom several of the Mc Donnells were close, none of the family ran for public office. The eldest son of the patriarch- Thomas E. Murray, Jr., was appointed by President Truman to the United States Atomic Energy Commission and his brother John 'Jack' Murray to the Port Authority of New York by Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt. The McDonnell triplex at 910 Fifth Avenue in New York was reputedly the largest in the city.[2]The clan were considered pillars of the New York Archdiocese, and were very close to Cardinal Spellman and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen; when Clare Boothe Luce converted to Catholicism, Bishop Sheen suggested that Anna Murray Mc Donnell serve as her godmother.

Paddy Wilson's Meeting-House in Providence Plantations, 1791-1839 : Being an Account of a Genial Irish Parson who Shaped a Community's Culture and Life

By, Arthur Edward Wilson

In this engaging story, Paddy Wilson, Irish immigrant preacher and disciple of John Wesley, succeeds the strong-willed New Englander Joseph Snow. 


Irish Americans: A History

By, Jay P. Dolan

Jay Dolan of Notre Dame University is one of America's most acclaimed scholars of immigration and ethnic history. In The Irish Americans, he caps his decades of writing and teaching with this magisterial history of the Irish experience in the United States. Although more than 30 million Americans claim Irish ancestry, no other general account of Irish American history has been published since the 1960s. Dolan draws on his own original research and much other recent scholarship to weave an insightful, colorful narrative. He follows the Irish from their first arrival in the American colonies through the bleak days of the potato famine that brought millions of starving immigrants; the trials of ethnic prejudice and "No Irish Need Apply;" the rise of Irish political power and the heyday of Tammany politics; to the election of John F. Kennedy as president, a moment of triumph when an Irish American ascended to the highest office in the land.

The Irish in Rhode Island: A Historical Appreciation 

By Patrick T. Conley

In the 1980 federal census, the first to pose the question of ancestry, 210,950 Rhode Islanders claimed Irish descent. This figure represents more than 22 percent of the state's total population. Despite the early advantage of the English and subsequent waves of immigration from French Canada and Italy, Irish-Americans have been Rhode Island's numerically dominant ethnic group for more than a century. Rhode Island's Irish are a diverse lot and defy easy generalization. Statistically, it can be determined that the bulk are middle-class, Roman Catholic, and Democratic; that they are urban or suburban dwellers; and that they are clustered near the center of the political and ideological spectrum. Presented here, then, is their history including photographs and a Suggested Reading and Reference list.


The Irish in New England

Edited by Peter Benes

The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife is a continuing series of conferences, exhibtions, and publications whose purpose is to explore everyday life, work, and culture in New England's past. 


Irish America: The Historical Travel Guide, Volume 1 and 2

By, Richard Demeter

Irish America is first of all a geographical guide to 800 landmarks and monuments associated with men and wome of Irish ancsestry. This definitive work describes each site and provides biographical and anecdotal information abiout the historical event or figure associated with it.