Ann Malone Kern, the main character in my Malone mysteries, is of Irish descent but, as far as I know, I don’t have a drop of Irish blood in my veins. However, we both live in Cincinnati, a city where the Irish played an important role. Next to the Germans, they were the largest group of immigrants between 1840 and 1910.
Cincinnati was a major destination for immigrants from Ireland who left their homeland because, due to the potato blight and resulting famine in their country, they couldn’t pay their mortgages and they were starving. Many were poor, spoke English with a brogue and were Roman Catholic with large families. Some came with nothing more than a few pieces of clothing.
The city offered many opportunities for work on the riverfront, digging for the Miami and Erie Canal and on railroad construction. Although most had hoped to become farmers, with no money and desperate to feed their families, when they arrived in the Queen City, many Irish took jobs that were dangerous and unskilled with low pay.
Through the years, the Irish have contributed greatly to our city’s growth and culture. During the Civil War, the Irish formed several militia units, which became the core of the Ohio 10th Regiment. Later, many became policemen and firemen, some were prosperous in industry and others were active in politics.
Today, we have The Irish Heritage Center of Greater Cincinnati. The IHC was founded to promote the Irish Culture through the study of customs, dance, education, film, genealogy, history, language, lectures, literature, music, mythology, poetry, social interaction, song, sport, theater and the visual arts.
|Cincinnati's Irish Festival|