When we think of March, the first thing that comes to mind is celebrating Women’s History Month, but during this month we also celebrate Irish-American Heritage Month. This month is our opportunity to reflect upon this heritage, learn more about it, and celebrate what is a unique and brilliant strand of history.
Irish-American Heritage Month is an important celebration to learn about the Irish culture, reveal the stories of Irish-immigrants and most importantly for Irish-Americans to honor, celebrate and connect with their roots.
Now, let’s dive deep into what the history of this heritage month is?
Irish-American Heritage Month was first celebrated by proclamation of the President in 1991. It seemed natural to choose March (Saint Patrick’s Day falls on March 17) for the month-long recognition of the contributions that Irish immigrants and their descendants have made to U.S. society.
Virtually every realm of American endeavor, from steel working to biotechnology to literature, has seen improvement through Irish-descended hands and minds.
The tradition of the Presidential proclamation continues on a yearly basis, with the top political figure from Ireland, the “Taoiseach,” visiting to conduct a shamrock-giving ceremony at the Oval Office, followed in the evening by a reception attended by the President and other key figures of both governments.
Most people know the basic facts of the influx of Irish families to the shores of the United States during the 19th century, with the image of the Irish immigrant being conscripted into the Army minutes after stepping off the boat perhaps the most ingrained in the minds of former grade-school history students.
What is less talked about is the anti-immigrant sentiment that was often faced by new Irish-Americans, largely a result of their Catholicism, which clashed with the predominantly Protestant backgrounds of the majority of families whose members had been among the original colonists. Irish-Americans faced bitter competition, even slanted legislation, in their search for good jobs and a place to call home.
This month we recognize not only the overcoming of those obstacles by Irish-Americans but also the incredible breadth and depth of their contributions to American society, from the Union’s edge over the Confederacy in the Civil War to the intellectual contributions that have kept our country on the top tiers of accomplishment.
If you are a company looking for ways to celebrate this awareness month internally or externally with your company, visit our website womenaf.org to see how we can support your work!