Irish American Heritage Month
A special welcome this month to our American cousins whose ancestors came from the province of Ulster in the North of Ireland.
March has been designated Irish-American Heritage Month to recognise and celebrate the significant impact that Irish Immigrants have had on the development of the United States over the centuries, including the contribution made by those from the North of Ireland.
Nearly half of the earliest Irish immigrants to America during the 18th century were from the province of Ulster while the rest came from the other 3 provinces of Leinster, Munster & Connacht. By the latter half of the 18th century, the Irish were involved in many aspects of the cultural and economic development of the country. When the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, at least 9 of the signatories were men with Irish heritage, including 4 with close links to the North of Ireland:
• Thomas McKean emigrated to America from Derry / Londonderry as a child. His parents were Irish-born Protestants from County Antrim in Northern Ireland. As well as being one of the Founding Fathers, he later served as the President of Delaware.
• George Taylor was born in County Antrim in Northern Ireland as the son of a Protestant clergyman and emigrated to America in his early twenties. He signed the Declaration as a representative of Pennsylvania.
• Edward Rutledge was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He was the youngest signer of the Declaration and the son of Dr John Rutledge, a physician and colonist of Scots-Irish descent with ties to County Tyrone in Ulster.
• John Dunlap was born in Strabane, County Tyrone in 1747. He emigrated to Philadelphia at the age of 10 to work with his Uncle as a printer and bookseller. He served under George Washington during the American Revolutionary War and went on to become a very successful Irish American printer and publisher.
More recent American History saw the number of arrivals from Ireland steadily increasing and it is estimated that over a million Irish Immigrants came to America in the first 30 years of the 19th Century. By the time of the Potato Famine in 1845, America became the destination for hundreds of thousands of Irish fleeing desperate conditions at home.
Over the following decades, Irish Americans made a massive contribution to building the infrastructure of the United States with their involvement in building roads, railroads, bridges, canals and general construction. Police forces of the 1900's were almost 20% Irish heritage, and a similar amount of schoolteachers were women of Irish descent.
So why not use Irish American Heritage Month as an opportunity to discover more about your Irish Ancestors using our free search facility at https://www.emeraldancestors.com/northern-ireland-ancestor-search ? And don't forget to raise a glass of Guinness to them this St Patrick's Day on Thursday, 22nd March 2022.
"Celebrating Irish-American Heritage Month", Erin Courtney, 17 March 2016:
"Declaration of Independence: A Transcription", National Archives:
"Irish-American Heritage Month" Free/Lozier Library Blog, Bellevue University:
"Irish Immigration to America, 1630 to 1921", Dr Catherine B. Shannon.
"When Irish Eyes are Smiling", United States Census Bureau, 2018: