Learning List: Irish American Heritage Month

March is Irish American Heritage Month! We’re celebrating the month with a list curated by the firm’s DEI Committee. Members of the committee selected works that celebrate and teach the stories of the Irish American community throughout this country's history. Scroll below to see what we’re reading, watching and listening to this month to learn more about Irish American history. Along with their recommendations, each committee member also shared why the particular work they selected inspired, educated, or engaged them; hopefully, you’ll find them inspiring, educational, and engaging too! 

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What We’re Reading…

Nativist Riots of 1844 by By Zachary M. Schrag
Chris Leavell recommends an article on the Philadelphia nativist riots that occurred in Kensington and other parts of the city in 1844. In May of that year, Philadelphia suffered some of the bloodiest rioting of the antebellum period, as several nativist protestors were shot dead and anti-immigrant mobs burned and
attacked Irish-American homes and Roman Catholic churches. The militia was ultimately called in to suppress the violence, but fighting broke out again later that summer. The article can be found online in the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia (Nativist Riots of 1844 – Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia (philadelphiaencyclopedia.org)). It’s a quick read and provides an overview of a distressing period of ethnic and religious conflict in our city.

What we’re watching…

Out of Ireland
April Colby recommmends this 1995 documentary which traces the history of families immigrating from Ireland to the United States using letters between family members. April says, “I watched this as a teenager who was very interested in my Irish heritage and recently rewatched it. It’s filled with heartbreak, hope and beautiful Irish music.”

Nicole Haiem recommends this 2015 period drama film, which follows a young Irishwoman who immigrates to Brooklyn in the early 1950s seeking employment. The movie was nominated for numerous awards including a Golden Globe. Nicole says, “I found it very interesting, and it provides good historical background of the times despite being fiction.”

The Sea Plays (also referred to as the Glencairn Plays) by Eugene O’Neill
Paige Willan recommends these short plays written at the turn of the 20th Century, which are powerful portraits of the lives of merchant sailors during that era, drawn on the personal experience of this iconic Irish-American playwright. Paige saw a production of two of these plays several years ago, and found them to be intensely dramatic and thought provoking

What we’re listening to…

Irish History Podcast
Ciera Bennett recommends episodes from this podcast, including:
Sept. 14, 2020 Episode titled: “Ireland and the Anti-Slavery Movement.” In this
episode, they discuss the abolitionist movement in Ireland, beginning in the
1790s and how former slaves Frederick Douglas and Equiano Olaudah were received there. It goes into detail about how many people still living in Ireland were abolitionist; however, in America, many were anti-abolitionist. This was primarily due to a fear of switching places with Black people in terms of enslavement and mistreatment, along with political pressure. There were also women who were important to that movement including Sarah Parker Remond and Mary Ann McCracken.

Feb. 14, 2023 Episode titled: “How the Famine Irish Built NY.” The title gives away the plot; however, it’s
still a great listen. In this episode, Dr. Tylinder Anbinder from GWU is interviewed and discusses how, by
1855, New York’s population included about 200,000 Irish immigrants. This was just a quarter of the Irish Immigrants who came to America as a result of the famine in Ireland. At this time, in NY, it was a
large construction site with tenement houses constantly being built to accommodate the influx of people. Most of the labor was completed by these Irish immigrants.

Let the Truth be Told by Laura Izibor
Ciera Bennett recommends Izibor, who is an Irish-born songstress/ actress. She is known for a few roles in movies like P.S. I Love You and When In Rome. However, this album, Let the Truth be Told, is a great work. Ciera’s favorite song on the album is “If Tonight is My Last.”

Make sure to check out our other learning lists throughout the year! 

What’s a communication from lawyers without a disclaimer? As is usually the case with legal professionals, we don’t all agree on everything, so while the members of the DEI committee found educational value in each of these recommendations, by no means do they necessarily agree with all views set forth in any given work. These recommendations are not an endorsement of any kind.

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