Irish Migration in the 19th Century

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Donald Akenson, in his paper entitled "What is known about the Irish in North America" tried to qualify who the "Irish" people are. He stated that "Irish-born" pertains to people who were born in Ireland and "Irish in North America" as pertaining to the collective experiences of the migrants and their descendants.


Ireland once belonged to England as one of its oldest colonies. It became officially absorbed as part of United Kingdom after the Act of Union on January 1, 1801 (Moving Here Ireland in the 19th century, par2). English was the official language of the country. Statistics showed that the percentage of people speaking in Irish decreased to less than 15% by 1891. In terms of economy, Ireland was largely agricultural. People largely depended on potato crop as their main source of livelihood. "By 1840, it has been estimated that 3 million people depended upon the potato, sometimes supplemented by buttermilk, with an adult male consuming up to 6.3 kg (14lbs) a day." (Moving Here Agriculture, par.4). Poverty is evident in their social class- the laborers who depended on the success of their crop harvest and the unemployed who live in wretched cabins and miserable huts. The living conditions of Irish in the 19th century can be depicted in the common notion of what an Irish notion is. It was stated in an article in the website of Moving here Gallery that the miserable hut of an Irish man consists of "an unpaved clay floor below, a roof of straw and weeds, dank, and soak, and rotting overhead, miserable bed in the corner, an iron pot over a peat fire, a black and filthy sink before the door." (Moving Here Living Conditions, par.3). ...
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