Dignity Member, Tim Meagher, Releases Book

Dignity Washington member, Tim Meagher, a retired Associate Professor at Catholic University who also oversaw the Irish Archives there, has written several books including The Columbia Guide to Irish American History. His latest book on the Irish in America, titled Becoming Irish American: The Making of a People from Roanoke to JFK was published in January, 2024. Tim begins this story centuries before when settlers from Britain, Northern Europe, and Normandy came to Ireland and intermingled with the native Gaelic peoples. This mixing over time helps to explain why John F Kennedy’s last name is Irish but his middle name, Fitzgerald, was derived from English settlers originally from Normandy.

Yale University Press, the book’s publisher, provided this summary:

“As millions of Irish immigrants and their descendants created community in the United States over the centuries, they neither remained Irish nor simply became American. Instead, they created a culture and defined an identity that was unique to their circumstances, a new people that they would continually reinvent: Irish Americans.

Historian Timothy J Meagher traces the Irish American experience from the first Irishman to step ashore at Roanoke in 1585 to John F Kennedy’s election as president in 1960.

As he chronicles how Irish American culture evolved, Meagher looks at how various groups adapted and thrived―Protestants and Catholics, immigrants and American born, those located in different geographic corners of the country. He describes how Irish Americans made a living, where they worshiped, and when they married, and how Irish American politicians found particular success, from ward bosses on the streets of New York, Boston, and Chicago to the presidency.

In this sweeping history, Meagher reveals how the Irish American identity was forged, how it has transformed, and how it has held lasting influence on American culture.”

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