A Glimpse Into Cincinnati’s Irish History

While I am running for Cincinnati City Council, I’m also a huge history buff: especially with Cincinnati and American History. I love stepping into the past to learn about what the path looked like along the way to make our city what it is today. This St. Patrick’s Day, I’d like to provide a window into the past of our city to share what it looked like when the first wave of Irish immigrants rolled in, in the 1840’s.

As it was with many other cities in the country, the massive wave of Irish Immigrants, which nearly tripled the city’s population, was met with resentment from Cincinnati’s population at the time. Signs reading “No Irish Need Apply” hung in storefront windows. Many of these new immigrants came fleeing from Ireland’s potato famine only to be met with the uncomfortable reality that their children may still be suffering without food to eat.

Nevertheless, they worked. Taking the unpleasant jobs that no one else wanted, many of them worked in a backbreaking effort to build the Miami and Erie Canal, worked on the railroads, and later formed militias to serve in the 10th OVI regiment in the Civil War. The same immigrants who were forced to come to America in famine, work the worst possible jobs simply to survive, and persevered through the hate they were met with became an essential piece in holding our nation together during the war without gratitude.

Today, we drink green beer to celebrate the “luck” of the Irish. Some of us go a step further and celebrate the day to pay homage to our own Irish heritage. Regardless of which category you find yourself in, we in Cincinnati owe it to many of the city’s Irish-American ancestors for their perseverance and service to holding our country together. So, at some point today, when you raise a glass to cheers, keep in mind all of the turmoil many Irish immigrants faced in America, and celebrate their overcoming this adversity. Our city’s vibrant history is coated with sweat from the crimson brows of the working Irish, and we should not forget that.

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