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  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
Messages 1 2 

An Irish History Lesson. by tucsonmike on 9 July 2011 3:05am
I posted this on my blog, an amusing phone call I had yesterday.

Re: An Irish History Lesson. by Loretto on 9 July 2011 3:38pm
You know Mike I have never ever heard of O'Kennedy. My husband's family also had an O' prefix but dropped it, I suppose to sound less Irish in America.

A friend of mine who is a social studies teacher showed me a picture of a cartoon from Punch magazine in 1862:
I have searched and just can't find the actual cartoon called "the missing link."

It depicts the Irish as ape-like, a common thing to do when racist toward a specific person or group. I've seen similar attempts of racist attacks at President Obama.

This is the closest image I could find,

Another cartoon called Frankenirish

And a final one, from Punch called "Two Forces" shows how the Irish were perceived and how powerful the propaganda machine was;

The Irish did indeed look odd and almost monkey like arriving in USA in the middle of the 1800's because they were starving skeletons with flesh, that's what they were, due to the Great Hunger and the conditions on the coffin ships. So loosing the O' or the Mac and sounding less "Irish" to avoid racism was a sound option.

In Ireland itself the Act of Union in 1801 and subsequent Penal Laws forbid the people speaking in Irish/Gaelic and being educated. So more than likely the omission of prefixes such as O' or Mac were dropped because again, the names didn't sound as Irish without them.

Kilmainham jail in Dublin Ireland, is an interesting tour and gives background to the Easter Rising in 1916. I always have mixed emotions though about whether or not people will LEARN something from the tour or walk away with bias toward the English. I am not one to advocate revision of historical facts, but I hate it when it breeds contempt instead of using history to teach us how we should do things differently in the future.


In 5 years from now the Irish will be commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1916 rising, tastefully I hope, with genuinely closer ties with England.

Re: An Irish History Lesson. by Loretto on 9 July 2011 4:13pm
Thanks for giving me an idea for my blog today Mike.


Hope you enjoy it!
Re: An Irish History Lesson. by tucsonmike on 9 July 2011 6:49pm
You're welcome. I read it and I subscribed to your blog. When we went to coffee, one of the ladies there is from Boston, like Elaine, and she pronounces the letter "h" haitch.
Re: An Irish History Lesson. by Loretto on 9 July 2011 7:24pm
Guess what? That's the way I pronounced it until my teacher friends teased the heck out of me for it. I remember giving the 7th grade a spelling test years ago when I was teaching middle school language arts and the kindergarten teacher wandered by, classroom door was open, and she shouts, "they're all gonna fail!!"

I subscribed to your blog too Mike.
Re: An Irish History Lesson. by tucsonmike on 9 July 2011 9:42pm
In the Moriarty sequel I'm planning, there will be an attack on Thomas Nast. You see, I know Morristown, it is where we were living before we moved West.

The woman in the store on the phone with me was like the Fawlty Towers character Mrs. Richards.

Dialog with Mrs. Richards.

Re: An Irish History Lesson. by Loretto on 10 July 2011 3:37pm
OK I contacted my friend the social studies teacher and he provided the cartoon that came to mind Mike when you mentioned the amusing phone call with Ms. O'Kennedy.

I have revised the blog and included the cartoon. It hopefully answers the question "What happened to the O' and the Mac?"

Re: An Irish History Lesson. by Sonny Syde on 10 July 2011 10:05pm
Kilmainham Jail made a man who doesn't cry, want to cry.
Re: An Irish History Lesson. by sighthound on 18 July 2011 1:35am
Good blog, Loretto.

Prejudice against the Irish in America is not so far in the past. My grandfather, a son of Irish immigrants, told me stories about repeatedly coming up against those "No Irish Need Apply" signs when he was a youth looking for work. Now, I'm watching the descendants of other immigrants (read "Tea Party") employing the same kind of prejudice against Mexican immigrants.

I saw a program a while back where they sang "Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder" which I hadn't heard since I was a kid. Despite being a rousing song, it had never made much sense to me back then but hearing it again as an adult knowing more about Irish-American history, it suddenly became clear why putting overalls in the soup pot was such a horrible insult. Irish female immigrants (like Chinese women) could only get work as washerwomen, a back-breaking, horrible job back then. When things got a bit better, some courageous employers began to hire Irish women as cooks. (Well, maybe they weren't all that courageous; I'm sure the Irish worked very cheap but there was the inevitable backlash against the "uppity" Irish women who took those jobs.) So putting soiled clothes in the chowder pot was a way of telling Mrs. Murphy that she should go back to the laundry "where she belonged."
Re: An Irish History Lesson. by Loretto on 18 July 2011 3:15am
Thanks for the compliment Geraldine. Maybe I would have been one of those "Uppity" Irish women!

I have to tell you that the blog was inspired by Tusconmike's blog. He spoke to a Mrs. O'Kennedy from a Home Depot over the phone last week who gave him a brief history about the Anglicization of Irish surnames. So it got me thinking.

I did contact Punch and asked them for permission to use the older cartoons and a very nice person got back to me and quoted me 60 pounds sterling per cartoon! Thanks very much but I'll pass on that.

Hopefully a "blog" use won't infringe copyrights though.I wonder how that works?
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