The Irish Times Highlights the Contrast between the Irish Diaspora Then and Now in the US.

The Irish Times Highlights the Contrast between the Irish Diaspora Then and Now in the US.

Sharp divide between old and young Irish in the US

The new generation of Irish people moving to the US is different from those who settled there decades ago

Photograph: Getty Images/Hemera, Sat, Aug 23, 2014, 00:01

Ciara Kenny

Despite the historical popularity of the US as a destination for Irish people, barriers to entry, tightened in the aftermath of 9/11, have prevented migration from Ireland to the US on the same scale as to other English-speaking countries, such as BritainAustralia and Canada, in recent years.

Just 28,900 people moved from Ireland to the US between 2008 and 2013, which pales in comparison with the almost 80,000 who moved to Australia and the 90,000 who have gone to Britain. About 21,500 have moved in the other direction, from the US to Ireland.But the year-long J1 employment scheme for graduates, as well as transfer opportunities with multinationals, has led to the growth of a small but vibrant group of young Irish professionals in the United States.They are generally aged from their early 20s to their early 30s, highly educated and well networked. They came from a modern Ireland much changed from the country their predecessors left.Does this make them better equipped to cope with the challenges of making a new home in the US? Are they assimilating into Irish-American enclaves or are they making their own way?


With more than 34 million people claiming Irish ancestry, the Irish-American diaspora is one of the largest and most developed in the world.

The long history of migration across the Atlantic has ensured a strong network of Irish communities all over the country, but the type of Irishness they are built around can be unfamiliar to the youngest members arriving from Ireland today.

“The Irish in America are so well established, which can be a help or a hindrance to the challenges emigrants face when they first arrive,” says Dr Martin Russell of Diaspora Matters. He recently went to the US to interview Irish people, and the organisations working with them, for a report on the changing needs of Irish communities abroad by the Clinton Institute at University College Dublin.

With so few young migrants arriving from Ireland to replenish and rejuvenate existing communities, the profile of the United States’ first-generation Irish America is ageing.

The older Irish population remains concentrated in established hubs of Irishness – areas such as South Boston and, in New York, Queens and Yonkers. The strong community organisations that still exist in these areas are crucial providers of care and support for more vulnerable Irish immigrants, particularly the elderly or those living illegally in the country.

But the younger, more affluent and upwardly mobile new Irish immigrants are settling outside these areas. Employment opportunities on the west coast, particularly in the tech sector in California, is the most significant factor influencing settlement patterns.

Rising rents in some Irish neighbourhoods, especially in New York, have led to the creation of new Irish areas in the big cities, and a more modern mindset also means that many new arrivals are reluctant to be associated with traditional Irish boroughs.

The divide between old and young is also highlighted in a recent study by Jennifer Nugent Duffy, quoted in the Clinton Institute report, which reported that older generations of Irish people in Yonkers resent new immigrants moving into the area, as it “threatens staples of their identity”.

Issues include binge-drinking, not going to Mass and “the lack of desire to be American” among younger Irish people. The difference in attitudes and cultural practices between the generations shows how experiences of being Irish in the same area in New York have changed so much.

“As new Irish arrive, there are new versions of Irishness at play, but there’s no one sense of Irishness better than another,” Russell says.

“The challenge for people working with Irish communities is maintaining the opportunity for everyone to negotiate and express their own sense of Irishness, whether that is as an elderly person who went in the 1950s or 60s or as someone arriving over today, who has left a very different Ireland.”

Irish boroughs may not be as popular, but long-established Irish organisations still play an important role for many young people fresh off the plane, looking for new friendships and networks.

“They are welcoming, which is crucial,” Russell says. “It comes up time and time again that the first six months are the most difficult for new emigrants. The sense of isolation is very strong. Being in contact with others who have been through the immigration process can be very therapeutic.”

Despite their “privileged” backgrounds, many of these young Irish display “familiar vulnerabilities” and are in need of this support structure, Russell says. Isolation and loneliness are as big an issue as ever; short-term visas are also causing new problems.

Men aged 18-30 were identified as being particularly vulnerable to mental-health problems, with a “clear increase in suicides” among Irish of all ages in the US. “Historical issues such as alcohol abuse are still very prominent. The problems mirror home in many ways,” he says.

An Irish centre in Boston reported a growing issue with substance abuse, centring on a “massive heroin and prescriptive drugs” problem that has replaced cocaine use, “which has always been there”.

“A lot of the traditional vulnerabilities tie into the status of being an emigrant or having left Ireland involuntarily. The emotional turmoil of being away from home can be very strong, especially for the undocumented. They are interlinked,” Russell says.

Unable to return

Mental-health issues are particularly prominent among the estimated 50,000 Irish living without legal status in the US; this group is more vulnerable to depression and suicide. Their ability to access healthcare and support services is limited because they are undocumented, which compounds the problem.

“The issue of not being able to return is the biggest,” Russell says. Because most undocumented Irish arrived in the late 1980s and 1990s, “their parents are now getting elderly and falling into ill health at home. These tensions and pressures can build up. Some of them are entering the elderly bracket now, and emigration for them has become final.”

The term “undocumented” is usually associated with emigrants who moved to the US in the 1980s and 1990s, but there has been a steady trickle of people overstaying visas ever since. Quantifying them is impossible – “because they are almost invisible”, Russell says – but Irish welfare organisations in the US believe the numbers overstaying work and holiday visas since the Irish recession hit in 2008 have been increasing.

Although there is some evidence of professionals staying on after their year-long J1 visas expire, most of those becoming undocumented now are still low-skilled workers travelling on holiday visas, who find cash-in-hand employment.

“When the opportunity arises to go the US on a short-term visa, the temptation can be very strong to stay, particularly in recessionary times, when there are no opportunities at home,” Russell says. “But they need to be aware of the difficulties that face them in the future. Education about this needs to begin in Ireland.”

This is the second in a series of country profiles based on the Clinton Institute report, and appears in Weekend Review today.

To view original news story click here.


Applied Innovation Workshop Added to INUSA Conference Agenda

Applied Innovation Workshop Added to INUSA Conference Agenda

Applied Innovation Workshop Added to INUSA Conference Agenda

Modeled after a program Salesforce has delivered to numerous Fortune 100 companies, this high energy 90-minute workshop will allow INUSA leaders and members to address challenges they face in their local networks to build additional membership and to reach out and engage an even more significant portion of the Irish Diaspora across the US. By looking at how INUSA and our local chapters operate through the eyes of prospective, new and existing members, this exercise will help set the course for the organization’s growth in 2015 and beyond.


IN-Seattle Featured in Irish America Magazine

By Noreen McCormack, Contributor
August / September 2014

2014 is proving to be an eventful year for Seattle Irish. Mayor Ed Murray, who lived in Ireland for a time, and whose four grandparents are from the old sod, was sworn into office in January. The Seattle Seahawks, led by Irish American coach Pete Carroll, won the Super Bowl. Seattle musicians Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, both proud Irish Americans, won several Grammys, including Best New Artist. And last month, our first female Chief of Police, Kathleen (Horton) O’Toole was sworn into office.

Chief O’Toole, who was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, became the first female police commissioner of Boston when she was appointed in 2004.

In May 2006, O’Toole moved to Ireland to assume the role of Chief Inspector of the Garda (Irish National Police). She had previously served on the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland under Chris Patten. The commission developed strategies that helped to shape the new police department of Northern Ireland. On May 19, 2014, she was nominated to serve as Chief of the Seattle Police Department.

O’Toole, who was honored as one of Irish America’s Top 100 in 2006, has roots in Co. Galway – her grandmother was from Athlone. Her husband has family in Roscommon and Mayo, and her daughter Meghan did her Master’s in screenwriting at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

When Mayor Murray addressed the attendees at the swearing-in ceremony, he quipped, “I didn’t select Chief O’Toole because she is a woman.  I picked her because she is Irish.”

Ireland’s Ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson was in Seattle for the occasion.

Seattle has a significant Irish-born population, as well as Irish American. and there are over 800,000 citizens in Washington state who claim Irish ancestry. Recently, the Irish government has demonstrated a keen interest in Seattle, not just due to Microsoft, but Amazon, Boeing and Expedia, to name a few Seattle companies operating in Ireland. Taoiseach Enda Kenny visited Seattle in March 2013.

Noreen McCormack is the President of Irish Network Seattle. To learn more about Irish Network Seattle, visit,

To view the link, click here.

IN-Boston Hosts Special Screening of film Calvary.

IN-Boston Hosts Special Screening of film Calvary.

Irish Network Boston held a special screening of the new film Calvary. Founding IN Board Member Dawn Morrissey, Director of the The Boston Irish Film Festival, organized the recent screening at the Kendall Square Cinema.  Guests met the film’s writer and director John Michael McDonagh and star of the film, actor Brendan Gleeson.  Calvary will be In theaters August 1st.

(Photo l-r, Brendan Gleeson, IN-Boston President and IN-USA Board Member Sean Moynihan, and John Michael McDonagh)








Ireland is Calling you to Cleveland for the 32nd Annual Cleveland Irish Festival on July 18-20, 2014


FROM:       John O’Brien, Jr. (216-647-1144

RE:               32nd Annual Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival

July 18, 19, 20, 2014 Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, Berea, OH

Ireland is Calling You … to Cleveland. The 32nd Annual Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival takes place at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea, Ohio July 18, 19 & 20, 2014.

Over 100 singers, dancers and performers on three indoor and five outdoors stages will fill 117 acres, with entertainers from Ireland, Canada and the U.S.

The festival offers a wide range of music from traditional to Celtic rock. Headliners include Ronan Tynan, of the Irish Tenors; Black 47, on the Final Tour; Dervish, celebrating their 25th year as a band of worldwide influence; Damien Dempsey, and The StepCrew, like Riverdance, only faster! Returning favorites include The High Kings, Scythian and original Riverdance fiddler Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul.

Scythian is described as “a pair of classically trained dueling fiddlers, a rhythm guitar and the occasional funky accordion, powered with the driving rhythm of a jazz percussionist. Their high-energy, adrenaline-peddling, interactive brand of music has one goal in mind: to get people on their feet and dancing.”

All-Ireland fiddle champion Eileen Ivers brings her Immigrant Soul Band to the Festival. The New Barleycorn, Brigid’s Cross, Marys Lane, Bernadette Ruddy, Malachi Cush, James Kilbane and Lost State of Franklin will also be there.

Others on stage include Dennis Doyle, Guaranteed Irish, Dermot Henry, Fintan Stanley and The Kilroys.  

Presenting the very best of Ireland doesn’t stop with the music. The festival showcases championship dancing and food, pipe bands, and award-winning drama.

New to the Festival this year is Temple Bar & Museum – Modeled after the world famous entertainment district in Dublin city centre, our Temple Bar & Museum has loads of singing, dancing, sessions and carrying on. A story, a song, a bit of the Guinness, a set dance lesson, you’ll find it all in our brand new AIR CONDITIONED Temple Bar & Museum.  Paired with the internationally recognized Celtic Heritage Hall, with over 200 exhibits, workshops, step dancing lessons and instrument demonstrations.

There are fourteen breeds of dogs native to Ireland. They will all be at the fest; the popular Dogs Native to Ireland are back. Plus there are over 50 Irish vendors with everything from Aran knits to delicious Irish chocolate. Books by Irish authors are also available.

The Tir Na nOg (Land of Our Youth) children’s area features continuous activities and live performances, T-Shirt painting, inflatables and much more.                                                              

Festival proceeds benefit The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Holy Family Home and ten other local and national charities. Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival has donated more than half a million dollars to charities since its inception in 1983.

Festival hours are 5:00 to 11:00 pm Friday; 1 to 11:00 pm Saturday; and 1 to 10:00 pm Sunday. General admission is $12.00. Children under 10 are free.

For additional details see    

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