Take it away Caroline...
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Or, as the Irish say, “Top o’ the morning.” Instead of repeating the greeting back, one says, “And the rest o’ the day to yourself.”
No doubt you’ve heard about the Great Potato Famine. Why did it cause so many Irish to starve or emigrate? It was a confluence of terrible events.
Along came a disease known as potato blight. If potatoes are your main crop, and you have no reserves, a disaster ensues. Tenants couldn’t pay their rents. Eager to rid the land on unprofitable tenants, some landlords paid the family’s fare to America with false promises of aid once they arrived. Many landlords turned them off the land with only what they could carry, but there was no where to go. Families lived by the roadside and under bridges like the homeless of today.
Understandable that unrest wracked Ireland and several estates were attacked. Fearing for their lives, some estate owners constructed high stone walls (with mortar) around their lands. They hired starving men to build the walls for a penny a day. These walls became called “penny walls.” The problem: a loaf of bread cost a penny-and-a-half. You see where this is going, right?
In spite of the risk, people sold whatever they owned to raise boat fare. Many indentured themselves to whoever would pay their ship passage. Those who could sent money home to families once they arrived in their new country, but most were not making a real wage. Some families were fortunate enough to already have a relative who’d emigrated and could help--maybe even loan them passage and provide a place to stay until the newcomer was established.
With the great influx of weary, ill, and uneducated Irish, public attitude hardened. Signs were posted stating “No Irish Need Apply.” I’m sure even those who couldn’t read soon learned to recognize the hateful sign.
EVERYONE’S IRISH ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY!
Caroline Clemmons writes romance and adventures—although her earliest made up adventures featured her saving the West with Roy Rogers. Her career has included stay-at-home mom (her favorite job), newspaper reporter and featured columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, and bookkeeper. She and her husband live in rural North Central Texas with a menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, travel, browsing antique malls and estate sales, and genealogy/family history. Her latest contemporary and historical romance releases include THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, OUT OF THE BLUE, SNOWFIRES, SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME and the upcoming HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME in July. Her backlist of contemporary and historical romance is available now at Smashwords and Kindle. Read about her at www.carolineclemmons.com or her blog at http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com She loves to hear from readers at email@example.com