An Eternally Irish resting place...

Eternally Irish - Home

News & Events

Irish Emigration - Why the Irish Left for the United States


Posted 1/02/2019

Oliver Cromwell and Indentured Servitude
In the 1600s when the British ruler Oliver Cromwell was in power the Irish population fell by two thirds either through war or being sent from Ireland to the colonies as an indentured servant.

These indentured servants were the first wave of Irish emigration to the United States.

The Scots Irish Presbyterians who moved from Scotland to Ulster and from Ulster to the United States
Many of the founding fathers of the United States can trace their roots to this wave of emigration. Religious persecution was a prime reason for the Scots Irish Presbyterians to move from Scotland to Ulster and from Ulster to the United states.

There are two significant Famines that caused many Irish to emigrate to the United States.

1) The Great Frost of the late 1700s
2) The Potato Famine of the mid 1800s"

The "Great Frost" of the 1700s  is often forgotten about, but nearly 20% of the Irish population died. As a result, many Irish signed up to indentured servitude to escape.

The "Potato Famine" or "Great Famine" is more well known and resulted in the largest Irish migration to the United States. Potato blight decimated the main food source for the native population. Despite there being plenty of food on the Island, millions still died or emigrated.

The landed gentry of the time exported most of the available food supply to maintain their income streams while millions starved.

During this time 4 million Irish emigrated to the United States on ships that became known as Coffin ships because of the high mortality rate on-board.
As a result, the Irish born population peaked at 1.9 million during the 1890s in the United States.

The 1980s
Lack of work and a crippled economy blighted Ireland during the 1980s. As a result, many Irish emigrated to Boston, New York or to the UK.
They embedded in Irish communities and many felt at home getting help from remote relatives or from people with roots in the same area they came from in Ireland.
Many undocumented Irish arrived during this time.

The Present Day: High-skilled and Executive Jobs
With American companies now the cornerstone of the Irish economy, many Irish work for major US tech or pharma companies.
As a result, some Irish based employees are required to move to the United States. These emigrants are not leaving something, but moving to fill highly skilled positions. They are moving for a new opportunity.

Although completely different circumstances, in many ways Irish people who move to the united States are still chasing the American Dream to this very day.

You can download "The Irish Remembrance Handbook" in PDF format below:


Irish Remembrance Ebook