Cultural Ties between Ireland and the United States


Irish immigration to the United States has exerted an enormous influence on the cultural and economic American life. It is estimated that some 35 million Americans have Irish ancestry. Many Irish people migrated to the USA because of the Great Irish Famine, between 1845 and 1849. This period is also known as the “Potato Famine” because almost half of the Irish population depended on this crop when a disease wiped them out throughout the country.

Many American figures from the world of sports, culture or politics are of an Irish origin. Some of the country’s presidents, such as John F. Kennedy, had Irish ancestry. Halloween is believed to have its origin in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in big cities like Boston, Chicago or New York, and Irish music has influenced the birth of more modern styles such as folk or Rock’n’roll.

With the economic revival of the country in the 1990s, the number of Irish people migrating to the USA has been decreasing, but the existing shared ties and values remain. Many American companies have established their subsidiaries for Europe in Ireland, and there is even a program to help young Irish people to work temporarily in the United States.

Perhaps now you understand why the Chicago River has been dyed green on St. Patrick’s Day for 60 years !

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