Related Searches


Irish people

The Irish people (Irish: Muintir na hÉireann, na hÉireannaigh, na Gaeil) are a Western European ethnic group who originate in Ireland, in north western Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9000 years (per archaeological studies), with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolgs, Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians (in legend - there is no written historical record before the 6th century) — the last group supposedly representing the "pure" Gaelic ancestry, and still serving as a term for the Irish race today. The main groups that interacted with the Irish in the Middle Ages include the Scottish people and the Vikings, with the Icelanders especially having some Irish descent. The Anglo-Norman invasion of the High Middle Ages, the English plantations and the subsequent English rule of the country introduced the Normans, Welsh, Flemish, Anglo-Saxons, and Bretons into Ireland.

There have been many notable Irish people throughout history. The 6th century Irish monk and missionary Columbanus is regarded as one of the "fathers of Europe", followed by Kilian of Würzburg and Vergilius of Salzburg . The Anglo-Irish scientist Robert Boyle is considered the "father of chemistry". Famous Irish explorers include Brendan the Navigator, Ernest Shackleton, and Tom Crean. The first European child born in North America had Irish descent on both sides. An Irishman was also the first to set foot on American soil in Columbus' expedition of 1492.

The Irish people are most famous for their writers. Until the end of the early modern period, the Irish were proficient at both speaking and writing in Latin and Greek. Notable Irish writers in the English language include Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney. Some of the 20th century writers in the Irish language include Brian O'Nolan, Peig Sayers, James Joyce, Muiris Ó Súilleabháin and Máirtín Ó Direáin.

People of Irish ethnicity outside of Ireland are common in many western countries, particularly in English-speaking countries. Historically, emigration has been caused by politics, religious oppression and economic issues. Over 80 million people make up the Irish diaspora today, which includes Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Argentina, New Zealand, Mexico, France and Germany. The largest number of people of Irish descent live in the United States — about ten times more than in Ireland itself.



During the past 9,000 years of inhabitation, Ireland has witnessed many different peoples arrive on its shores. The ancient peoples of Ireland—such as the creators of the Céide Fields and Newgrange—are almost unknown. Neither their languages nor terms they used to describe themselves have survived. As late as the middle centuries of the 1st millennium AD the inhabitants of Ireland did not appear to have a collective name for themselves. Ireland itself was known by a number of different names, including Banba, Scotia, Fódla, Ériu by the islanders, Hibernia and Scotia to the Romans, and Ierne to the Greeks.

Likewise, the terms for people from Ireland—all from Roman sources—in the late Roman era were varied. They included Attacotti, Scoti, and Gael. This last word, derived from the Welsh gwyddel (meaning raiders), was eventually adopted by the Irish for themselves. However, as a term it is on a par with Viking, as it describes an activity (raiding, piracy) and its proponents, not their actual ethnic affiliations.

The term Irish and Ireland is derived from the Érainn, a people who once lived in what is now central and south Munster. Possibly their proximity to overseas trade with western Britain, Gaul, and Hispania led to the name of this one people to be applied to the whole island and its inhabitants. A variety of historical ethnic groups have inhabited the island, including the Airgialla, Fir Ol nEchmacht, Delbhna, Fir Bolg, Érainn, Eóganachta, Mairtine, Conmaicne, Soghain, and Ulaid.

One legend states that the Irish were descended from one "Milesius of Spain", whose sons supposedly conquered Ireland around 1000 BC or later. The character is almost certainly a mere personification of a supposed migration by a group or groups from Hispania to Ireland. It is from this that the "Irish Race of to-day" is popularly known as "Milesian".

When the climate warmed into the present interglacial, populations would have rapidly spread north along the west European coast. Genetically, in terms of Y-chromosomes and Mt-DNA, inhabitants of Britain and Ireland are closely related to the Basques, reflecting their common origin in this refugial area. Northern Spaniards, specially Asturians, Cantabrians and Basques, along with Irish, show the highest frequency of the Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup R1b in Western Europe; some 98% of native Basque men have this haplogroup. The rest is mainly I and a minimal presence of E3b. The Y-chromosome and MtDNA relationship between Basques and people of Ireland and Wales is of equal ratios than to neighbouring areas of Spain, where similar ethnically "Spanish" people now live in close proximity to the Basques, although this genetic relationship is also very strong among Basques and other Spaniards. In fact, as Stephen Oppenheimer has stated in The Origins of the British, although Basques have been more isolated than other Iberians, they are a population representative of south western Europe. As to the genetic relationship among Basques, Iberians and Britons, he also states:

Brian Sykes's book based on his genetic research, Blood of the Isles, comes to similar conclusions. Sykes uses the terms "Celts" and "Picts" to designate the pre-Roman inhabitants of the Isles who spoke Celtic languages, rather than the Celts of central Europe:

[T]he presence of large numbers of Jasmine’s Oceanic clan ... says to me that there was a very large-scale movement along the Atlantic seaboard north from Iberia, beginning as far back as the early Neolithic and perhaps even before that. ,,,The mere presence of Oceanic Jasmines indicates that this was most definitely a family based settlement rather thatn the sort of male-led invasions of later millennia.

The 'Celts' of Ireland and the Western Isles are not, as far as I can see from the genetic evidence, related to the Celts who spread south and east to Italy, Greece and Turkey from the heartlands of Hallstadt and La Tene...during the first millennium BC...The genetic evidence shows that a large proportion of Irish Celts, on both the male and female side, did arrive from Iberia at or about the same time as farming reached the Isles. (...)

The connection to Spain is also there in the myth of Brutus.... This too may be the faint echo of the same origin myth as the Milesian Irish and the connection to Iberia is almost as strong in the British regions as it is in Ireland. (...)

They [the Picts] are from the same mixture of Iberian and European Mesolithic ancestry that forms the Pictish/Celtic substructure of the Isles.

Here again, the strongest signal is a Celtic one, in the form of the clan of Oisin, which dominates the scene all over the Isles. The predominance in every part of the Isles of the Atlantischromosome (the most frequent in the Oisin clan), with its strong affinities to Iberia, along with other matches and the evidence from the maternal side convinces me that it is from this direction that we must look for the origin of Oisin and the great majority of our Y-chromosomes...I can find no evidence at all of a large-scale arrival from the heartland of the Celts of central Europe amongst the paternic genetic ancestry of the Isles... can.

Most historians today agree that the Irish along with the Welsh, Britons and Scots were not of Celtic origin, but rather absorbed Celtic cultural influences. Most Geneticists today agree with this assumption, but rather than assume the Basque's are the origins of these peoples, there is a considerable debate to whether the Irish are along with the above mentioned simply the remainder of the aboriginal or native Western European stock.

Early expansion and the coming of Christianity

One Roman historian records that the Irish people were divided into "sixteen different nations" or tribes. Traditional histories assert that the Romans never attempted to conquer Ireland, although it may have been considered. The Irish were not, however, cut off from Europe; they frequently raided the Roman territories, and also maintained trade links. Irish regiments, referred to as the "Primi Scotti", are recorded in Roman service along the Rhine front. Carausius, appointed Commander in Gaul by Emperor Diocletian, may also have been an Irishman.

Among the most famous people of ancient Irish history are the High Kings of Ireland, such as Cormac mac Airt and Niall of the Nine Hostages, and the semi-legendary Fianna. The 20th century writer Seumas MacManus wrote that even if the Fianna and the Fenian Cycle were purely fictional, it would still be representative of the character of the Irish people:

The introduction of Christianity to the Irish people during the 5th century brought a radical change to the Irish people's foreign relations. The only military raid abroad recorded after that century is a presumed invasion of Wales, which according to a Welsh manuscript may have taken place around the 7th century. In the words of Seumas MacManus:

However, Christianity in Ireland appears never to have expanded outside the religious sphere of influence, whereas for the English people and the people of continental Europe it became a whole social system. Therefore, the Irish secular laws and social institutions remained in place.

Migration and invasion in the Middle Ages

Around the 5th century, Gaelic language and culture spread from Ireland to Scotland — the Dál Riata. The Gaels soon spread out to most of the rest of the country. The cultural and linguistic dominance of the "Scoti" is the origin of the name "Scotland". The territories of the Gaels and the native Picts merged together to form the Kingdom of Alba. The modern Scottish people have therefore been influenced historically by both the Irish people and the English people to the south. The Isle of Man and the Manx people also came under massive Gaelic influence in their history.

Irish missionaries such as Saint Columba brought Christianity to Pictish Scotland. The Irishmen of this time were also "aware of the cultural unity of Europe", and it was the 6th century Irish monk Columbanus who is regarded as "one of the fathers of Europe". Another Irish saint, Aidan of Lindisfarne, has been proposed as a possible patron saint of the United Kingdom. Irish missionaries founded monasteries outside Ireland, such as Iona Abbey, the Abbey of St Gall in Switzerland, and Bobbio Abbey in Italy.

Common to both the monastic and the secular bardic schools were Irish and Latin. With Latin, the early Irish scholars "show almost a like familiarity that they do with their own Gaelic". There is evidence also that Hebrew and Greek were studied, the latter probably being taught at Iona.

Since the time of Charlemagne, Irish scholars had a considerable presence in the Frankish court, where they were renowned for their learning. The most significant Irish intellectual of the early monastic period was the 9th century Johannes Scotus Eriugena, an outstanding philosopher in terms of originality. He was the earliest of the founders of scholasticism, the dominant school of medieval philosophy. He had considerable familiarity with the Greek language, and translated many works into Latin, affording access to the Cappadocian Fathers and the Greek theological tradition, previously almost unknown in the Latin West.

The influx of Viking raiders and traders in the 9th and 10th centuries resulted in the founding of many of Ireland's most important towns, including Cork, Dublin, Limerick, and Waterford (earlier native settlements on these sites did not approach the urban nature of the subsequent Norse trading ports). The Vikings left little impact on Ireland other than towns and certain words added to the Irish language, but many Irish taken as slaves inter-married with the Scandinavians, hence forming a close link with the Icelandic people. In the Icelandic Laxdœla saga, for example, "even slaves are highborn, descended from the kings of Ireland. The first name of Njáll Þorgeirsson, the chief protagonist of Njáls saga, is a variation of the Irish name Neil. According to Eirik the Red's Saga, the first European couple to have a child born in North America was descended from the Viking Queen of Dublin, Aud the Deep-minded, and a Gaelic slave brought to Iceland.

"Though any visit to Ireland or to Scandinavia can easily demonstrate that racial types are no fiction of the imagination, language, culture, religion, and politics have been more powerful determinants of ethnicity than race."
Norman Davies, Europe: A History
The arrival of the Anglo-Normans brought also the Welsh, Flemish, Anglo-Saxons, and Bretons. Most of these were assimilated into Irish culture and polity by the 15th century, with the exception of some of the walled towns and the Pale areas. The Late Middle Ages also saw the settlement of Scottish gallowglass families of mixed Gaelic-Norse-Pict descent, mainly in the north; due to similarities of language and culture they too were assimilated.


It is very common for people of Gaelic origin to have the English versions of their surnames beginning with "O'" or "Mc" (less frequently "Mac" and occasionally shortened to just "Ma" at the beginning of the name). "O'" comes from the Gaelic Ó which in turn came from Ua (originally hUa), which means "grandson", or "descendant" of a named person. Names that begin with "O'" include Ó Briain (O'Brien), Ó Ceallaigh (Kelly), Ó Conchobair (O'Connor), Ó Dónaill (O'Donnell), Ó Maille (O'Malley), Ó Néill (O'Neill), and Ó Tuathail (O'Toole).

"Mac" or "Mc" means "son of". Names that begin with Mac include Mac Diarmada (MacDermott), Mac Cárthaigh (MacCarthy), Mac Dómhnaill (MacDonnell), and Mac Mathúna (MacMahon, MacMahony, etc.). However, "Mac" and "Mc" are not exclusive, so, for example, both "MacCarthy" and "McCarthy" are used. While both "Mac" and "O'" prefixes are Gaelic in origin, "Mac" is more common in Scotland and in Ulster than in the rest of Ireland; furthermore, "Ó" is far less common in Scotland than it is in Ireland.

There are a number of Irish surnames derived from Norse personal names, including MacSuibhne (Sweeney) from Swein and McAuliffe from Olaf. The name Cotter, local to County Cork, derives from the Norse personal name Ottir. Though these names were of Viking derivation most of the families who bear them appear to have had native origins.

"Fitz" is a corruption of the French phrase fils de, used by the Normans, meaning son of. The Normans themselves were descendants of Vikings, who had settled in Normandy and thoroughly adopted the French language and culture. Names that begin with Fitz include FitzGerald (Mac Gearailt), Fitzpatrick (Mac Giolla Phádraig), and FitzHenry (Mac Anraí), most of whom descend from the initial Norman settlers. A small number of Irish families of Gaelic origin came to use a Norman form of their original surname — so that Mac Giolla Phádraig became FitzPatrick — while some assimilated so well that the Gaelic name was dropped in favor of a new, Hiberno-Norman form. Another common Irish surname of Norman Irish origin is the 'de' habitational prefix, meaning 'of the' and originally signifying prestige and land ownership. Examples include de Búrca (Burke), de Brún, de Barra (Barry), de Stac (Stack), de Tiúit, de Faoite (White), de Paor (Power). The Irish surname "Walsh" was routinely given to settlers of Welsh origin, who had come during the Norman invasion.

It should be emphasised, especially with Gaelic surnames, that there may be two or more unrelated families bearing the same or similar surnames. The Mac Lochlainn, Ó Mael Sechlainn, Ó Mael Sechnaill, Ó Conchobair Mac Loughlin and Mac Diarmata Mac Loughlin families, all distinct, are now all subsumed together as MacLoughlin. The full surname usually indicated which family was in question, something that has being diminished with the loss of prefixes such as Ó and Mac. Different branches of a family with the same surname sometimes used distinguishing epithets, which sometimes became surnames in their own right. Hence the chief of the clan Ó Cearnaigh (Kearney) was referred to as An Sionnach (Fox), which his descendants use to this day. Similar surnames are often found in Scotland for many reasons, such as the use of a common language and mass Irish migration to Scotland in the late 19th and early to mid-20th centuries.

Late Medieval and Tudor Ireland

The Irish people of the Late Middle Ages were active as traders on the European continent. They were distinguished from the English (who only used their own language or French) in that they only used Latin abroad — a language "spoken by all educated people throughout Gaeldom". The explorer Christopher Columbus visited Ireland to gather information about the lands to the west. A number of Irish names are recorded on Columbus' crew roster, preserved in the archives of Madrid, and it was an Irishman named Patrick Maguire who was the first to set foot on American soil in 1492.. According to Morison and Miss Gould, who made a detailed study of the crew list of 1492, no Irish or English sailors were involved in the voyage.

An English report of 1515 states that the Irish people were divided into over sixty Gaelic lordships and thirty Anglo-Irish lordships. The English term for these lordships was "nation" or "country". The Irish term "oireacht" referred to both the territory and the people ruled by the lord. Literally, it meant an "assembly", where the Brehons would hold their courts upon hills to arbitrate the matters of the lordship. Indeed, the Tudor lawyer Sir John Davies described the Irish people with respect to their laws:

Another English commentator records that the assemblies were attended by "all the scum of the country" — the labouring population as well as the landowners. While the distinction between "free" and "unfree" elements of the Irish people was unreal in legal terms, it was a social and economic reality. Social mobility was usually downwards, due to social and economic pressures. The ruling clan's "expansion from the top downwards" was constantly displacing commoners and forcing them into the margins of society.

As a clan-based society, genealogy was all important. Ireland 'was justly styled a "Nation of Annalists"'. The various branches of Irish learning — including law, poetry, history and genealogy, and medicine — were associated with hereditary learned families. The poetic families included the Uí Dhálaigh (Daly) and the MacGrath. Irish physicians, such as the O'Briens in Munster or the MacCailim Mor in the Western Isles, were renowned in the courts of England, Spain, Portugal and the Low Countries. Learning was not exclusive to the hereditary learned families, however; one such example is Cathal Mac Manus, the 15th century diocesan priest who wrote the Annals of Ulster. Other learned families included the Mic Aodhagáin and Clann Fhir Bhisigh. It was this latter family which produced Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh, the 17th century genealogist and compiler of the Leabhar na nGenealach.


After Ireland was subdued by England, the English — under James I of England (reigned 1603-1625), the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell (1653-1658), William III of England (reigned 1689-1702) and their successors — began the settling of Protestant English and Scottish colonists into Ireland, where they settled most heavily in the northern province of Ulster. The Plantations of Ireland and in particular the Plantation of Ulster in the 17th century introduced great numbers of Scottish, English as well as French Huguenots as colonists.

Many native Irish were displaced during the 17th century plantations. Only in the major part of Ulster did the plantations prove long-lived; the other three provinces (Connacht, Leinster, and Munster) remained heavily Catholic. Eventually, the Protestant populations of those three provinces would decrease drastically as a result of the political developments in the early 20th century in Ireland, as well as the Catholic Church's Ne Temere decree for mixed marriages, which obliged the non-Catholic partner to have the children raised as Catholics.


There have been notable Anglo-Irish scientists since the plantations. Robert Boyle (1627–1691) is considered the father of chemistry for his book The Sceptical Chymist, written in 1661. Boyle was an atomist, and is best known for Boyle's Law. The hydrographer Sir Francis Beaufort (1774-1857), an Irish naval officer of Huguenot descent, was the creator of the Beaufort scale for indicating wind force. George Boole (1815–1864), the mathematician who invented Boolean algebra, spent the latter part of his life in Cork. The 19th century physicist George Stoney, introduced the idea and the name of the electron. He was the uncle of another notable physicist, George FitzGerald.

The Irish bardic system, along with the Gaelic culture and learned classes, were upset by the plantations, and went into decline. Among the last of the true bardic poets were Brian Mac Giolla Phádraig (c. 1580-1652) and Dáibhí Ó Bruadair (1625–1698). The Irish poets of the late 17th and 18th centuries moved toward more modern dialects. Among the most prominent of this period were Séamas Dall Mac Cuarta, Peadar Ó Doirnín, Art Mac Cumhaigh Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna, and Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill. Irish Catholics continued to receive an education in secret "hedgeschools", in spite of the Penal laws. A knowledge of Latin was common among the poor Irish mountaineers in the 17th century, who spoke it on special occasions, while cattle were bought and sold in Greek in the mountain market-places of Kerry.

For a comparatively small island, Ireland has made an enormous contribution to literature. The literature of the Irish people encompasses the Irish and English languages. Notable Irish writers include Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), Oliver Goldsmith, Bram Stoker, James Joyce. Among the famous Irish poets are William Butler Yeats, Francis Ledwidge, "A.E." Russell and Seamus Heaney. Irish playwrights include Oscar Wilde, Lady Gregory, John Millington Synge, Edward Plunkett, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, Sean O'Casey, Brendan Behan and Brian Friel. Some of the 20th century writers in the Irish language include Brian O'Nolan, Peig Sayers, Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, and Máirtín Ó Direáin.

Northern Ireland and the Free State

In 1921, with the formation of the Irish Free State, six counties in the northeast remained in the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland.

It is predominately religion, historical, and political differences that divide the two communities of (Irish nationalism and British unionism). Four polls taken between 1989 and 1994 revealed that when asked to state their national identity, over 79% of Northern Ireland Protestants replied "British" or "Ulster" with 3% or less replying "Irish", while over 60% of Northern Ireland Catholics replied "Irish" with 13% or less replying "British" or "Ulster". A survey in 1999 showed that 72% of Northern Ireland Protestants considered themselves "British" and 2% "Irish", with 68% of Northern Ireland Catholics considering themselves "Irish" and 9% "British". The survey also revealed that 78% of Protestants and 48% of all respondents felt "Strongly British", while 77% of Catholics and 35% of all respondents felt "Strongly Irish". 51% of Protestants and 33% of all respondents felt "Not at all Irish", while 62% of Catholics and 28% of all respondents felt "Not at all British".

"Ulster-Irish" surnames tend to differ based on which community families originate from. Ulster Protestants tend to have either English or Scottish surnames while Catholics tend to have Irish surnames, although this is not always the case. There are many Catholics in Northern Ireland with surnames such as Emerson, Whitson, Livingstone, Hardy, Tennyson, MacDonald (however this surname is also common with Highland Roman Catholics in Scotland), Dunbar, Groves, Legge, Scott, Gray, Page, Stewart, Rowntree, Henderson, et al; almost certainly due to intermarriage.

Recent history

In the Republic of Ireland, as of 2006, 3,681,446 people or about 86.83% of the population are Roman Catholic. In Northern Ireland about 53.1% of the population are Protestant (21.1% Presbyterian, 15.5% Church of Ireland, 3.6% Methodist, 6.1% Other Christian) whilst a large minority are Catholic at approximately 43.8%, as of 2001.

The 31st International Eucharistic Congress was held in Dublin in 1932, that year being the 1,500th anniversary of Saint Patrick's arrival. Ireland was then home to 3,171,697 Catholics, about a third of whom attended the Congress. It was noted in Time Magazine that the Congress' special theme would be "the Faith of the Irish." The massive crowds were repeated at Pope John Paul II's Mass in Phoenix Park in 1979. The idea of faith has affected the question of Irish identity even in relatively recent times:

Ireland joined the European Community in 1973, and Irish citizens became additionally Citizens of the European Union with the Maastricht Treaty signed in 1992. This brought a further question for the future of Irish identity; whether Ireland was "closer to Boston than to Berlin:"

Famous Irish singers and musicians have included the harpist Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738); and more recently The Clancy Brothers, Dónal Lunny, Van Morrison, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Rory Gallagher, Phil Lynott, Bob Geldof, Shane MacGowan, David King, Enya and Glen Hansard.

Famous Irish actors include Spike Milligan, Todd Carty, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Brendan Gleeson, Colm Meaney, Graham Norton, Cillian Murphy, Colin Farrell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. One of the most significant national Irish media figures is Gay Byrne, who presented the Late Late Show from 1962-1999. There are several other Irish broadcasters of note who developed careers outside of Ireland, such as Terry Wogan and Eamonn Andrews, who are well known internationally.

In sport, modern Irish figures include Roy Keane, John O'Shea, Martin O'Neill and Steve Staunton (soccer); Pádraig Harrington, Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke (golf); Barry McGuigan (boxing); Keith Wood, Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell (Rugby Union); Eamonn Coghlan, John Treacy and Sonia O'Sullivan (athletics) Finian Maynard (windsurfing); and Seán Óg Ó hAilpín (hurling).

Irish diaspora

The Irish diaspora consists of Irish emigrants and their descendants in countries such as the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and nations of the Caribbean such as Barbados. These countries, known sometimes as the Anglosphere, all have large minorities of Irish descent, who in addition form the core of the Catholic Church in those countries. People of Irish descent also feature strongly in Latin America, especially in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. In 1995, President Mary Robinson reached out to the "70 million people worldwide who can claim Irish descent. Today the diaspora is believed to contain over 80 million people.

There are also large Irish communities in some mainland European countries, notably in France and Germany. Between 1585 and 1818, over half a million Irish departed Ireland to serve in the wars on the continent, in a constant emigration romantically styled the "Flight of the Wild Geese". In the early years of the English Civil War, a French traveller remarked that the Irish "are better soldiers abroad than at home". Later, Irish brigades in France and Spain fought in the Wars of the Spanish and Austrian Succession and the Napoleonic Wars. In the words of Arthur Wellesley, the Irish born "Iron Duke" of Wellington, a notable representative of the Irish military diaspora, "Ireland was an inexhaustible nursery for the finest soldiers".

The most famous cause of emigration was Irish Potato Famine of the late 1840s. A million are thought to have emigrated as a result of the famine. For both the native Irish and those in the resulting diaspora, the famine entered folk memory and became a rallying point for various nationalist movements.

People of Irish descent are the second largest self-reported ethnic group in the United States, after German Americans. Nine of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independence were of Irish origin. Among them was the sole Catholic signatory, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, whose family were the descendants of Ely O’Carroll, an Irish prince who had suffered under Cromwell. At least twenty-four presidents of the United States have some Irish ancestral origins, including George Washington. Since John F Kennedy took office in 1961, every American President has had some Irish blood. An Irish-American, James Hoban, was the designer of the White House. Commodore John Barry was the father of the United States Navy.

In the mid-19th century, large numbers of Irish immigrants were conscripted into Irish regiments of the United States army at the time of the Mexican-American War. The vast majority of the 4,811 Irish-born soldiers served honorably in the American army, but some defected to the Mexican army, primarily to escape mistreatment by Anglo-Protestant officers and the strong anti-Catholic discrimination in America. These were the San Patricios, or Saint Patrick's Battalion — a group of Irish led by Galway-born John O'Riley, with some German, Scottish and American Catholics. They fought until their surrender at the decisive Battle of Churubusco, and were executed outside Mexico City by the American government on 13 September, 1847. The battalion is commemorated in Mexico each year on 12 September.

It is believed that as many as 30,000 Irish people emigrated to Argentina between the 1830s and the 1890s, having a "seismic" impact on Argentinian society. Today Irish-Argentines number over 500,000 — about 3% of the population. Some famous Argentines of Irish descent include Che Guevara, former president Edelmiro Farrell, and admiral William Brown. There are Irish descent people all over South America, such as the Chilean liberator Bernardo O'Higgins and the Peruvian photographer Mario Testino. Although some Irish retained their surnames intact, others were assimilated into the Spanish vernacular. The last name O'Brien, for example, became Obregón.

People of Irish descent are also one of the largest self-reported ethnic groups in Canada, after English, French and Scottish Canadians. As of 2006, Irish Canadians number around 4,354,155.

List of notable Irish people

See also


11. Lehmann, Winfred P., 1997. 'Early Celtic among the Indo-European Dialects'. Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 49-50. 440-454. 12.


External links

Search another word or see Basque'son Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature