Irish-American Heritage Month

Did you know that Irish-American Heritage Month was first celebrated in March 1991? Although we have celebrated Irish-American Heritage Month for more than 3 decades, the Irish have long played a role in the development and building of our Nation, beginning with Colonial America. Many of the Irish prior to 1715 were brought over as indentured servants. Indentured servants were mostly adults who “signed” a contract agreeing to provide labor for a specified number of years to pay off debt. Others were forced into indentureship for judicial punishment. To learn more about indentured servants, please plan on attending an upcoming program sponsored by the Wayne County Genealogy Society, “Apprentices, Indentured Servants and Redemptioners: White Servitude in America”. It will be presented by Peggy Lauritzen and held in the Wayne County Public Library’s Conference Room; 220 W. Liberty St.; Wooster, OH 44691 on May 22, 2023, at 6:00 p.m.

The first large wave of Irish immigration was from 1715 to 1845. Many of these immigrants were seeking opportunity to own land or were Ulster Presbyterians seeking greater religious freedom. The second large wave of Irish immigration was from 1845-1914. Many of the early immigrants from this wave were fleeing starvation and death due to crop failure in Ireland. From 1845 to 1855, more than 1.5 million adults and children migrated to the United Stated to escape the Potato Famine. Many of their family and friends followed them to the United States over the next several decades. This type of migration is often referred to as chain migration and occurred with great frequency throughout the history of Colonial America and the United States.

There has been a long history of division in Ireland. In 1848, a small group of French women presented the tri-color flag shown above to Thomas Francis Meagher. The group of women was sympathetic to Irish Nationalism. However, this flag was not adopted as the National flag of Ireland until 1916. The green represents the Roman Catholic, the orange represents the Presbyterians and the white in the middle represents a lasting truce between the two groups. (

Wayne County, Ohio came to be the home of many early Irish immigrants. Some of the first Irish immigrants to file their first or final papers for naturalization in Wayne County, Ohio included:

John and Daniel McPhail, James Rose and Robert Orr, filed for naturalization 6 October 1818; John Dolaghan/Dullaghan, application filed 7 October 1819; Edward Gallagher, applied 5 October 1818 and naturalized November 1826; Thomas Carroll, applied 20 November 1822; John Jeffrey, applied 23 April 1824; Moses McCammon and James Blake, applied 21 October 1824; Thomas Armstrong, naturalized 21 October 1824; Joseph Armstrong, applied 23 February 1825; and Samuel Bell, David Stephenson, and Robert Taggert all applied for naturalization 7 November 1825.

Do you have early Irish immigrants who settled in Wayne County, Ohio?

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