The Irish were among the first immigrants to arrive in America and were known for their hard work and sense of community. They developed a reputation as thugs, which led them to be discriminated against by other Americans.
Irish immigrants came to America for many reasons, but most were forced out by poverty and starvation brought on by the potato blight. The potato blight was a fungus that caused potatoes to rot in their fields and stores, causing widespread famine in Ireland.
The Irish who came over after 1845 were mostly poor Catholic peasants who had been evicted from their land because they couldn’t pay rents due to crop failures caused by the potato blight. They sailed aboard “coffin ships” that carried up to 900 passengers each — many died on board or soon after arriving in America due to disease or malnutrition. Those who survived settled in cities like Boston, New York City and Philadelphia where they lived in tenements with no plumbing or running water — these conditions contributed to poor health amongst the Irish immigrant population.
The second wave of Irish immigrants arrived at Ellis Island between 1890 and 1920 in search of a better life than what was available in Ireland at that time.
A third wave of Irish immigrants came from Ireland after World War II ended and until the 1960s when they began going back home as things improved there economically with British help (Marshall Plan).