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Author: Julie K. Wood

Publication Year: 1993

Journal Volume: 07

Article Reference: NYIHR-V07-01

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Identities In Conflict - New York Irish-Catholics Response to the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

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The 1930s was a decade polarized by conflicting ideologies worldwide. Hitler and Mussolini had created fascist dictatorships in Germany and Italy which were not content to stay within their own borders. The Germans remilitarized the Rhineland. The Italians invaded Ethiopia. On the other end of the political spectrum, while Stalin carried out his purges in the Soviet Union, his troops forceably annexed areas in central Asia, the Ukraine, and Transcaucasia. The world waited anxiously for the inevitable conflict between the two political spheres into which Europe was dividing.

Some would say this conflict began with the outbreak of World War II; others might place the date earlier-with the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. General Francisco Franco's military revolt against the Spanish Republican Government, a Popular Front of Communists, Socialists, and other left-wing groups, was supported clandestinely by Hitler, Mussolini, and the fascist government of Portugal. Moscow sent war material to the Republic, and Communists worldwide helped organize the International Brigades, a group of volunteers who joined the Republican Army.

While the United States declared its neutrality, American citizens quickly chose sides. Those sympathetic to the Republican Loyalists viewed the struggle as one between fascism and democracy. Some believed so strongly that Spanish democracy had to be defended that they volunteered for the Lincoln Battalion of the International Brigades. An ardently pro-Franco element led by the Catholic Church, 1 on the other hand, saw Spain as the battlefield for the war against world communism.

Hundreds of histories have been written on the Spanish Civil War-its causes, its military campaigns, International Brigaders' memoirs, international repercussions of the war, and the United States' reaction to it. When studying the U.S. response, historians often discuss American activities in favor of one-side or the other. The scholarship on pro-Franco propaganda has concentrated on the role of the Catholic Church hierarchy which led the pro-Franco drive in the United States throughout the war.2

An intriguing question raised by this scholarship is why the Catholic establishment failed to persuade a majority of the laity of the rectitude of Franco's cause. 3 The Pope, the American hierarchy, the majority of the clergy, the Catholic press, and Catholic lay organizations all endorsed Franco. Most Catholics, however, remained unconvinced-a fact of which Catholics were painfully aware. "As a body," the Catholic journal Ave Maria lamented in 1938 with the Spanish situation in mind, "we seem dismally incapable of unified action for a worthy objective." 4 Historians have noted this discrepancy between the views of Catholic leaders and those of the Catholic masses with regard to the Spanish war.To understand the condition of the Irishcodes, Catholics were placed under a long list ofand Service (the Historyof the New York Botanicalsettling in the Bronx it is imperative to knowrestrictive measures. The laws were designed toGarden). His articles onsomething of the history of Ireland and thereduce Irish Catholics to insignificant slavery andTrish schoolmasters in carlyIrish people's relationship with England. Infitness for nothing except to hew wood and drawNew York City and on theCharles B. Quinn Collection1167 England began the invasion and Iona College appearedtion of Ireland. This marks the beginning of aRegarding effects of the Penal Laws onin volumes 23 and 24 oflong struggle that does not reach its end in theIrish Catholics there is the story of an inci-New York Irish History.twenty-six counties in the Irish Republic untildent in the British House of Lords. It is relat-©2014. Published with per-Vol. 27, 20139/22/14 8:44 PMBY HARRY M. DUNKAK, PAID., C.F.C.(Left) Oliver CromwellIreland (1649-1652)tury, especially upon the areas of West Farmsand Westchester Square.Brother Harry M. Dunkak,Ph.D., C.FC., is Emeritustion of land owned by Irish Catholics.'church-the Anglican Church or Churchtion, Brother Dunkak wasnventy-three publications,mission of Harry M. Dunkak,NYIHR_P35_Dunkak_V27_ 2R.indd 35
PAGE 36ed that when a member of the House of Lordsunusual character, had struck the Isle of Wight.tauntingly referred to the Irish as "rude andBy September 13, the Gardeners' Chronicleignorant," Lord Byron promptly stated withannounced the blight had reached Ireland.that bitter sarcasm for which he was publiclyCrop loss for 1845 was estimated at anywherenoted: "Aye, well may you call them ignorant,from one third to as high as one half of cul-my Lord, when you burned the schoolhouseand hanged the schoolmaster!" A fellow mem-ber of Parliament, Edmund Burke, a greatmated that three quarters of the potato harvesthumanitarian, described the Penal Laws as onewas lost to this blight. The Great Hunger hadstruck Ireland, with a devastating effect uponof the most frightful engines of oppressionIrish Catholics.that the perverted ingenuity of man couldconceive. According to Burke, they were "fit-The Great Hunger proved a period ofted for the oppression, impoverishment, andmass starvation, disease, death and migrationbetween the years of 1845 and 1852. Outsidedegradation of a people, and the debasementin them of human nature itself...."* Professorof Ireland it is known as the period of GreatFamine. In the Irish language it is more cor-William Lecky, a noted English author, anAnglican, and an ardent British sympathizer,Great Hunger." The records show that duringaccurately summarized in his History of Irelandthis terrible period of hunger there was suf-in the Eighteenth Century (1913) the diabolicalgoals of the Penal Laws as follows:To deprive the Catholics of all civil life,ties of food, however, were being shipped fromTo reduce them to condition of mostIreland to Great Britain and elsewhere by theBritish authorities, while Irish Catholics wereextreme and brutal ignorance,To deprive them of their land that wasdying from lack of nourishment and from dis-eases caused by their hunger. Cecil Woodham-desperately needed for their very existence.Smith, an authority on this period of Irishhistory, writes that huge quantities of food,THE GARDENERS CHRONICLETHE PERIOD OFsuch as meat, vegetables and grain, were beingAGRICULTURAL GAZETTEGREAT HUNGERshipped to Great Britain. A portion of theIN IRELANDfollowing poem cited by historian ChristineThe relation-ship betweenpoorIrish Catholics:the Irish peopleThere's a proud array of soldiers-whatwith Englanddo they round your door?was particularlyThey guard our master's granaries fromsignificant inthe thin hands of the poor.the early andPale mothers, wherefore weeping?Illustration:mid-nineteenthWould to God that we were deadThe Gardener'sChronicle andcentury. The potato had been introduced intoOur children swoon before us, and weAgricultural Gazette wasIreland by the wealthy as a garden crop, acannot givethem bread.a periodical publifor nearly 150 years. Itminor supplement to their more than adequatebegan in 1841, not longdiet. But, by 1815 the potato had become abefore the Great Hunger.year-round food for many poor Irish farmersThese terrible outcomes of the relationshipGardeners and scientistssubmitted reports andFor poverty stricken Irish Catholics, it hadbetween Great Britain and the Irish peopleother materials. Charlesbecome a staple crop for their very existence. Ifbecame main factors behind a surge in IrishDarwin and Josephever the potato was threatened, it would havemigration to North America that had startedHooker were among itscontributors. Courtesy ofa devastating effect on the poor of Ireland. Oncenturies earlier. Starting with Sir WalterNew York Public Library.August 16, 1845, the Gardeners' Chronicle andRaleigh's ill-fated experiment in Virginia in1583, the Irish had not only come to America,infestans, commonly known asblight ofbut had come in considerable numbers. DownVol. 27, 20139/22/14 8:44 PMNEW YORK IRISH HISTORYtivated acreage in Ireland. In 1846, it is esti-rectly called an Gorta Mor, meaning "Theficient food to feed all the Irish. Huge quanti-Kinealy aptly describes the scene for theIRISH MIGRATION TO AMERICAAgricultural Gazette reported that phytophthoraNYIHR_P35_Dunkak_V27_2RLindd 36
PAGE 37HARPERS WEEKLYIllustration:After the dramaticincrease in Irishimmigration to NorthAmerica following theGreat Hunger, anothersurge occurred afterwhat is sometimes calledSmall Hunger," a timeof hunger (1879-1890)largely in the west ofIreland. The front coverfor February 28, 1880shows help arriving inIreland from the UnitedStates. The captionreads "The Herald ofrelief from America.Courtesy of Library 1790 it is difficult to determine the exactin 1845 and continuing into the 1850s,number of Irish who migrated to America.the population of Ireland declined fromOne source places the number in 1790 at8,175,124 in 1841 to 6,552,350 in 1851. For306,000. A more recent study claims that thisthe entire period it has been estimated that atfigure significantly understates the number ofleast 1,383,350 people died and 1,445,587Irish who came to America during the colo-emigrated. Families did not migrate in largerect, there is no doubt that the Irish came innumbers, but younger members of familiesdid. The Trish immigrants starting a new lifelarge numbers during the colonial period andin a new land usually sent remittances backplayed significant roles in colonial history andto their families which permitted other fam-the American Revolution. 3However, in the second half of the 1840sily members to migrate. In general, womenmigrated in similar numbers as men. Theand the beginning of the 1850s, the Irishmigrated in greater numbers because of TheGreat Hunger, by far the most devastat-this catastrophe obviously were the terriblyunjust distribution of land, the total depen-ing event in the history of Ireland. Startingupon the potato, and theVol. 27, 20139/22/14 8:44 PMNEW YORK 1R15H HISTORYMOURNAL OF CIVILIZATIONW. SEE -de INAJ AAY TOEK, AATEZINY, LINEARE 16, /944.tieS - n120 9, on a hireAn Gorta Beag or "Theof Harper's Weeklynial period. Regardless of what figures are cor-socio-economic conditions that brought ondence of many IrishNYIHR_P35_Dunkak_V27 2R.indd 37
PAGE 38skills. Many immigrants suffered from fever andvarious diseases as a result of the cramped andunsanitary conditions on board what becameknown as the "coffin ships." One passenger,the year that saw the greatest emigration, laterdescribed conditions in steerage:Hundreds of poor people, men, womenand children of all ages huddled together,without much air, wallowing in. filth andbreathing a fetid atmosphere, sick in body,dispirited in heart; the fevered patientslying beside the sound, by their agonizedravings disturbing those around. Thesufficiently cooked in consequences of theinsufficiency and bad construction of thecooking places. The supply of water, hardlyenough for cooking and drinking, does notfact that the English were shipping more thanallow for washing. It has been estimatedenough food from Ireland to feed the Greatthat perhaps as many as 40% of steerageIllustration:Hunger Irish.diately after arrival. The authorities inPacket ships wereAmerica soon realized how disease-riddendesigned late in the eigh-In this dramatic migration, people leftfrom several ports of embarkation. Liverpoolthe emigrants were, so they set up quaran-mail and small pieces ofdominates for the period from 1846 to 1851,tine centers which held the emigrants untilcargo from England toaccounting for 76.6% of the departures. Smallerthey were deemed fit to continue. Someits colonies. They werelater used to transportnumbers, ranging from two to three percent,went to the West of America, but the vastpassengers, sometimescame from Belfast, Dublin, Glasgow, London,majority settled in the eastern cities, suchin large numbers. TheirCork, and Limerick. The popularity of Liverpoolas New York. In the eastern cities somedesign helped reduce timeneeded for trips, but cross-as a departure point can be attributed in part tofound work in the poorest of jobs. Over theported passengers from that seaport to New Yorkyears some, but very few, did rise to someparticularly in winter,prominence, but most remained desper-remained hazardous.Courtesy of LibraryCity. These ships were large, carrying from 300of 1,000 passengers. The cost was low, from threeto four pounds in steerage, a sum of money nomore, and in many cases less, than the rate forThese are the people who came to America,many of whom settled and contributed to thesmaller vessels using Irish ports. The packet shipsdevelopment of the Bronx in New York in City.presented somewhat better accommodations, plususually faster passage and better safety. The tripTHE IRISH IN THE BRONXfrom Ireland to Liverpool cost little or nothing,Until the late nineteenth century the Bronxsince ships making that short trip took on passen-belonged to Westchester County. At that timeWestchester County extended down to theThe Great Hunger Irish, upon arriving inHarlem River. However, in 1874 the townsNew York and other American seaports, facedmany obstacles and difficulties. In contrast toearlier immigrant Irish groups, most immigrantswere awarded to New York City by thearriving during the famine years were near des-New York State government, and in 1895 thetowns of Westchester, Wakefield, Pelham andVol. 27, 20139/22/14 8:44 PMNEW YORK 1R15H HISTORYStephen de Vere, who sailed in steerage in 1847,food is generally ill-selected and seldompassengers died either en-route or imme-teenth century carrythe American-built packet ships which trans-ing the North Atlantic,ately poor.*gers for ballast.of West Farms, Morrisania, and Kingsbridgetitution upon arrival and possessed very fewEastchester were awarded to New York City. InNYIHR_P35_Dunkak_V27_2Findd 38
PAGE 391896 City Island voted to join New York City.In 1898 the Borough of the Bronx was estab-property owners. Obviously, in the town ofIllustration:An idealized view of theAmerican quarantineing as sections of the Borough. The Bronx wascenter in St. George,the last of sixty-two New York State counties toRegarding the town of West Farms, thesurviving journeysbe incorporated.out of total population of 4,436 inhabitants,across the Atlantic, TrishAttention to the Irish in the towns of946 were Irish with 432 females and 514 males,immigrants who showedwith about 180 married couples. The totalsigns of illness weresent to this quarantinecentury reveals interesting details. An exami-number of female Irish under 14 years was 45,station. Establishednation of the census of 1850 for Westchester,and the total number of males 14 years andin 1799, it grew inat the height of the Great Irish Hunger, tells usunder was 57. The total number of femalesnotoriety as more peoplea greatdeal about the conditions of the Irish inwithin the ages of 15-30 was 256, and the totalarrived for "treatment"in the 1800s. FollowingNew York. In that town, out of a total popu-number of males was 281. The number ofa severe Yellow Feverfemales working as servants was 179, and 271outbreak on StatenIsland in 1856, local254 females and 270 males, with about 103males were common laborers. Only about 23inhabitants blamed themarried couples. The total number of femalecenter. They attackedIrish 14 years and under was 28 and the totalIrish in the town of West Farms were propertyit and burned severalnumber of males 14 years and under was 42.owners. Obviously in the town of West Farms,with a larger population, conditions for thebuildings. The centerclosed in 1858. CourtesyThe total number of females within the agesIrish were about the same as in the town ofof Library of Congress.of 15-30 was 143 and the total number ofmales was 131. Some 121 females worked asMost Irish immigrants in America had toservants, and 169 males were common labor-ers. Of the Irish 20 years of age or older, aboutstruggle and lived a life bordering on poverty.Some Irish, very few in number, did fairly60 males and 70 females were illiterate. Onlywell by mid-nineteenth century. Williamabout 22 Irish in the town of Westchester wereCarr did not arrive during the Great HungerVol. 27, 20139/22/14 8:44 PMNEW YORK 1R1SH HISTORYMYLAW OP RECE ITEW YOUR QUARANTINE, SUACIN 134411D.Pattedt he mesoss Bro pro cal teN. co pastor to leslished, with some of the former towns endur-Westchester the Irish, in general, were strug-gling to live a decent life.1850 Westchester County census reports thatStaten Island, AfterWestchester and West Farms in the mid-19thlation of 2,492 people, 524 were Irish withWestchester.NYIHR_P35_Dunkak_V27 2R.indd 39
PAGE 40and cows. Finally there were accounts due toWilliam Carr. The entire estate was valued at$1,417.46, excluding some items "exemptedfrom Appraisement, to remain in the posses-sion of Maria Carr, the widow of the testator,pursuant to Statute."On November 6, 1854, John M. Beck,who married Mary Carr (William Carr'sonly daughter) and who by that time wasthe only surviving administrator of theestate, filed a supplementary inventorystating he discovered among the deceased'spapers two mortgages worth $3,500 and$1,000 respectively and a note of credit for$33. The $3,500 bond andmortgage wasfrom Robert Weber and his wife on a houseand lot at #222 Varick Street in New YorkCity. The $1,000 bond and mortgage werealso from Weber and his wife on anotheryears, but was in New Yorkhouse and lot at #54 Downing Street inearly as 1838. InNew York City. Both were dated February1850, Carr, age 50, resided in West Farms. His6, 1838, and were "to have been liquidatedoccupation was not recorded in the census of1850, but he possessed real property valued atand settled, by existing offsets and accountsbetween Mary Carr and the owner of the$3,500. On or about January 2, 1851, WilliamCarr died without leaving a will. On Januarysaid Houses & Lots, payable three yearsafter22, 1851, his widow, Maria, residing in Westdate thereof, with Interest at six percent halfFarms, requested in document submitted toyearly." Beck also discovered "an accountExisting as due the said William Carr in hisPhoto:the Westchester County Surrogate Court thatView of the Bronx River"the said intestate left kindred entitled to hisby said William Carr, & which it is allegedin 1896. The River andEstate, whose names and places of residencethe county were namedwas agreed to be liquidated by receivingare as follows: your petitioner his widow andMary, wife of John M. Beck, his only childShrubs and ornamental Trees in paymentimmigrated to Newthereof." The wood was listed as having aand next of kin, all residing in the said town ofvalue of $33. There is no record as to whetherCourtesy of the Museumof the City of New York.West Farms." Maria Carr also requested thatthese debts were paid or whether there was ashe and John M. Beck be granted "Letters ofAdministration of the goods, chattels and cred-resolution of any discrepancies between theparties involved.its of the said intestate....' Maria Carr signedthe document with her mark; she obviouslyThomas Richardson was a wealthy resi-dent of the town of West Farms. At the timewas unable to write her name.Henry B. Todd and James Valentine wereof the census of 1850 he was as listed as 34 yearsappointed by the Surrogate Court to inventoryof age, ship merchant whose real propertywas valued at $30,000. On April 28, 1846,the possessions of the deceased William Carra Thomas Richardson, age 27, a merchant,and presented their written report on January28, 1851. The inventory was extensive, contain-arrived at the port of New York. Althoughthere is a discrepancy in the ages listed inhouse: carpets, piano, tables, clock, blankets,the census and the ship manifest, all otherevidence indicates the same individual. Bothsheets and quilts. There were also a barn andentries indicate Richardson was a merchant.barnyard with sixty fowl, horse and carriageIt is important to note that he arrived fromVol. 27, 20139/22/14 8:44 PMNEW YORK 1R15H HISTORYlifetime by Wm. Hogg for wood sold to himfor Jonas Bronck whoNetherland in a room-by-room list of items in a two-storyNYIHR_P35_Dunkak_V27_2R.indd40
PAGE 41Liverpool on the Great Western which car-remain in the possession of the Widow of theried fourteen passengers: twelve merchants,Testator, pursuant to the Statute." He ownedonegentleman and one physician. The Great"a two story frame house on Boston Road inWestern was a merchant ship, not a packet.Merchant ships were well equipped, carriedthe Village of Morrisania, built on propertyonly a few passengers who were accommo-owned by Mary Mills and valued at $650.There was a bond and mortgage, dated May,dated in separate cabins, and naturally chargedexpensive fees for the passage. One obviously1855, from Jane Sparrows, with a value ofhad to be wealthy for such a passage across the$2,000. On January 10, 1856, Jane SparrowsAtlantic, and Richardson was wealthy. Thealso borrowed $1,000 from Long. FinallyHunger Irish, on the other hand, were forcedthere was a note dated August 18, 1852, fromto travel very cheaply and in terrible condi-Samuel Long, Junior, for $425. The entireestate was worth $4,075, but there is noships. There are no other Richardsons listedrecord of anyone claiming or receiving thisestate, except for the "Exempt" Irish in the census of 1850, and ThomasPatrick Curran, age 45, a resident of theRichardson was listed in that census as a mer-town of Westchester (located in the northeast-chant.ern portion of the Bronx), was a storekeeperWhen Thomas Richardson died on March3, 1865, his widow (no name given), whowhose real property was valued at $1,800lived until January 29, 1890, "was appointedin 1850. His wife, Mary, age 44 was alsoborn in Ireland. They had a son, Michael,age 15, also born in Ireland before the fam-persons as Executors etc." Thomas Richardsonwas described in a document of February,ily migrated to America. On or about April7, 1877, Patrick Curran died intestate. Mary1893, as having possessed "large estates, ofwhich a portion was in Great Britain andCurran had died previously, so Michael, nowresiding in New York City, requested thatIreland, and a portion in America. By his willhe appointed executors and trustees in eachhe be appointed by the Surrogate's Courtas administrator of his father's estate. Therecountry who were respectively to administerthe several portions of the estate. From timewere three other surviving children to sharetheir father's estate: Catharine Skinion andto time after his death in 1865, the inventoryrecord indicates that ships and bonds weresold, and loans totaling $371,163.31 wereofficial inventory of Patrick Curran's estatemade. Although born in Ireland and hav-included such items as a watch, two wagons,ing arrived during the Great Hunger years,Thomas Richardson certainly was not one ofa loan and several bonds and mortgages; thetotal value was estimated at $3,574.39. Anthe Great Hunger Irish.interesting item in the inventory was a bill,Samuel Long, age 66, lived in thedated July 9, 1877, from undertaker IsaacButler, Jr. The casket and cloth cost $130,Bronx, which at the time had a large Irishpopulation) of the town of West Farms. Hefive carriages cost $6 each, and with interesthad real property valued at $1,500, but thereof $35 for late payment, the total bill for theburial of Patrick Curran came to $ no notation in the census for his occupa-tion. On February 21, 1859, Long diedThe largest bond and mortgage, worthintestate (in the census of 1850 there is no$1,800, was from a Mary A. Mooney. TheCensus of 1850 includes two women namedmention of a Mrs. Long). An estate inventoryMary Mooney. One Mooney, age 26, waswas submitted to Surrogate Court on March23, 1859. There were articles such as spinningworking as a servant on farm in the townwheels, a stove, a family bible, and a cow thatwere declared "exempt from appraisement, to36, lived in the nearby town of West Farmsand was married to James Mooney, age 40, aVol. 27, 20139/22/14 8:44 PMNEW YORK TRISH HISTORYtions in steerage by the hundreds in packetExecutrix and Trustee together with otherMary Jane Connally of Westchester and EllenBowhen of New York City. A rather brief,Morrisania section (presently in the lowerof Westchester. The other Mary Mooney, ageNYIHR_P35_Dunkak_V27_2R.indd 41
PAGE 42Photo:John Joseph Hugheswas born in CountyTyrone and served as thefourth bishop and firstlaborer, who owned property valued $1,800.archbishop of New York.With this information, one can determine toHe led the archdioceseat the corner of Henry Street and the roadin New York from 1842whom Patrick loaned the money; it is logicalto assume that it was the latter Mary Mooneyto Connells Mills. There is a map showingto 1864, a period ofdramatic growth andvolatile issues. Courtesybecause her husband did own property.the location of this property, but there are norecords to indicate how and when this debtJohn Lewis of the town of Westchester, agewas repaid.35, was a laborer in 1850, with real propertyvalued at $700. He was married to Mary, alsoTHE IRISH AND THE ROMAN CATHOLICborn in Ireland, age 34, with no children, atCHURCHThe Irish came to the Bronx, and to the rest ofBoth John and Mary were illiterate. Lewis diedAmerica, with a special relationship with theiron November 28, 1879, leaving will. Hischurch. In Ireland, unlike much of continentalestate inventory, except for his property andhouse, was very modest. He left such itemsEurope, both laity and clergy suffered underas four horses worth $80, three sets of doublethe tyranny of the state. This circumstancecreated a special bond that made many ofharnesses, one hay wagon,one horse cart, twomowing machines, one calf and one plow, withthe Irish and Catholicism inseparable. Whenthe Irish arrived in the United States theya total value of $237.50. On July 24, 1846,first looked for Catholic priests for advice,John Lewis had received a mortgage worthleadership and assistance in their new and$1,500 from Michael Cadmus and his wifesometimes hostile environment. In return, theVol. 27, 20139/22/14 8:44 PMNEW YORK 1RISH HISTORYto buy Property in the town of Westchesterof Wikipedia.least none living in the town of Westchester.NYIHR_P35_Dunkak_V27_2R.indd42
PAGE 43cally, without too much difficulty. In 1841Bishop Hughes, therefore, established in theFordham section of West Farms the Collegeof St. John's, which also became the diocesanseminary. The college and seminary wereunder the Vincentian order of priests until1845, when the Jesuits took control becausethe former group eventually could not supplypoverty stricken Irish used every spare pennyItalian Vincentian ordained in Rome in 1840toerect churches, schools, hospitals, orphan-and possessing not much more than rudi-and houses for the poor. At least onementary facility with the English language, hadages,been appointed rector of the seminary, with thehistorian has noted that, in studying the Irish,added enormous duties of tending to the spiri-one must also study the Catholic Church.5Fortunately, during most of these exciting, dif-ficult and turbulent years for them, the IrishCatholics of the New York area had astrong,active, and very capable leader in John Hughes(1797-1864) who became Bishop (in 1738)and then Archbishop (in 1842) of New Yorkand remained in that office until his death.Hughes was born in County Tyrone to Patrickand Margaret (McKenna) Hughes, small farm-Wars the family experienced economic dif-ficulties and migrated to America. They livedWhile still in Ireland John had thought ofthe priesthood, so it was not surprising thathe entered the seminary at Mount SaintCatholics, the vast majority of whom wereand was ordained in 1826. After leading aIrish. Bishop Dubois also had assigned FatherPhotos:number of parishes, on January 7, 1838, hethe Bronx (and for all of Westchester County)University began as St.John's College, shownwith the right to succeed the aging Bishophere in the 1890s. TheJohn Dubois. Knowing and experiencing thethe first permanent Catholic Church. He beganthis task in 1842 by acquiring property on theCollege opened in 1841.(Right) St. Raymond'sproblems faced by the Irish, he threw himselfChurch on Castle Hillwholeheartedly into their activities and prob-the Bronx. The first masses were held in a barn.Avenue, facing EastTo remedy the shortage of priests for theBy 1845 the first permanent Catholic churchbuilding in the Bronx was completed and wasit appeared in 1905.growing Irish population, Hughes reporteddedicated by Archbishop Hughes on AugustJim Griffin.that Dubois had admitted foreign clergymen,some of whom were not reliable and many of31, the feast of St. Raymond, hence the parish'swhom did not speak English. Bishop Hughes,name. Father Villanis and the mostly foreign-however, knew that most Irish immigrantsspeaking Vincentians did not remain long atknew some English or quickly learned theSt. Raymond's. The two pastors who complet-language and blended in, at least linguisti-ed the construction of St. Raymond's, althoughborn in Ireland, were English-speaking andVol. 27, 20139/22/14 8:44 PMNEW YORK 1RISH HISTORYa sufficient number of priests well-versed inthe English language. Father Felix Villanis, antual needs of Bronx and Westchester countyers and linen weavers. During the Napoleonicfor a time in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland,Villanis the monumental task of establishing in(Left) Fordhamwas appointed coadjutor-bishop of New Yorkcorner of Tremont and Castle Hill Avenues inlems in New York.Tremont Avenue, asCourtesy of 43
PAGE 44were trained for the priesthood at St. John'sJenkins, Stephen, The Story of the Bronx. New York: G.P.College.CONCLUSION1845-1852. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 2012.The Irish obviously suffered a great deal inIreland under English rule. Many died andmany migrated to America. Family groups, inCentury. London: Longmans, Green, and Company.1913.general, did not migrate but individual youngIrish females and males did come to America.Typically, they lacked many skills but workedNew York: D & J. Sadlier & Co., 1872.hard at whatever occupations were open tothem, as menial and difficult as these jobs werefor most people. The Church was important toBaltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co.,1993.them and they relied upon priests, who wouldbe educated, to assist them to live a betterlife than they were afforded in Ireland underBritish rule. They contributed a great deal toPress, A New-York Historical Society Book, 1991),the development of America and eventuallywould fashion for themselves a better life thanPotter, George, To the Golden Door, The Story of the IrishIreland would have afforded them until Irishin Ireland and America. Boston: Little, Brown andindependence in 1922.Company, 1960.Shaw, Richard, Dagger John, the Unquiet Life and Times ofSourcesArchbishop John Hughes of New York. New York: PaulistPress, 1977.Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger:1849. London: Penguin Group. 1992.Labor, The Irish of Early Westchester County, New York,New Rochelle, New York, Iona College Press, 1994.1 When a general asked Cromwell what should be doneEarly New York City," New York Irish History, vol. 23,with the now landless Irish Catholics, the reply was:2009."Send them to hell or Connaught." Connaught was inthe western portion of Ireland and was the least arableof all the land in Ireland.B. Collection: A Source for the Study of Irish History& Culture," New York Irish History, (Annual Journal2 George Gordon, Lord Byron 1788-1824. EdmundBurke, 1729-1797. See Michael J. O'Brien, "Early2010.Irish Schoolmasters in New England," The CatholicReview, vol.3 (April 1917-January 1918), pp.52-53."Estate Inventories." Westchester County Office of3 The large Irish migration to the shores of AmericaOffice of Records.prompts an enquiry into the reason for this move-ment. Quite simply, a great ancient civilization wasGreen, E.R.R., "Agriculture," Chapter II in R. Dudley &dying on the rack of English conquest during the sev-in Irish History 1845-1852. New York: New Yorkdent in literature, music, art, love of community andUniversity Press, 1957.respect for the individual was being destroyed by animposed English system through the Penal Laws.Vol.27, 20139/22/14 8:44 PMNEW YORK 1R15H HISTORYPutnam's Sons, 1912.Kinealy, Christine. This Great Calamity: The Irish FamineLecky, William E.H., A History of Ireland in the EighteenthMaguire, John Francis, M.P., The Irish in America.O'Brien, Michael J., Irish Settlers in America. 2 vols.Pencak, W., Berrol, S., and R. M. Miller (eds.),Immigration to New York (Philadelphia: Bach Institutepp.53-54.Ireland 1845-"Census of 1850 for West chester County, New York,"Microfilm copy found in the Westchester CountyHistorical Society Archives in Elmsford, New York.Dunkak, Harry M., C.F.C., Ph.D., Freedom-Culture-EndnotesDunkak, Harry M. C.F.C., Ph.D., "Irish Schoolmasters inDunkak, Harry M. C..C., Ph.D., "The Brother Charlesof the New York Irish History Roundtable), vol. 24,Records, Elmsford, New York: Westchester CountyT. Desmond Williams (eds.), The Great Famine Studiesenteenth and eighteenth centuries. A culture resplen-NYIHR_P35_Dunkak_V27_2R.indd 44
PAGE 45Ireland was certainly not a paradise: the land wasof all life, and the vanity of the world, yet the gran-poor, the climate was not pleasant and poverty wasdeur and wonder of creation in all its ecstatic and innever too far away. But with all these hardships, plusmyriad loveliness.the Penal Laws, there still was the ancient Irish loveof their magnificent culture and the fierce desire toThe Celtic way of life was able to survive inmaintain the freedom that the Irish long possessedIreland, a relatively small island off the West coastand treasured. Many Irish consequently migrated toof Europe, while most of Europe had been con-the shores of America.quered first by the Legions of Romans and laterby the Barbarian hordes from the North and the4The study of any nation includes an understand-East. Such is the greatness of Irish culture that theing of the various elements that have fashioned itsEuropean Renaissance began in Ireland and on thehistorical development: This is especially importantIsle of Iona six hundred years before the blossom-for America, a nation populated by many immigrantgroups. The arrival of the Irish in America is cer-ing of learning, art and literature in France andItaly. There is an Eastern, oriental influence in Irishculture, as exemplified by the creation of intricatelystarted with the first aborted colonial settlementsdelicate, beautiful and mystifying figurines, motifsin the late sixteenth century. By the middle of theand circular designs contained in magnificent cop-nineteenth century this trickle became a flood tide ofies of the Bible, such as the Book of Kells (startedimmigration, many coming and settling in New Yorkon the Isle of Iona in 797AD to mark the twoCity. The Celts were the first to arrive in Americahundredth anniversary of the death of St. Columba,in large numbers. Nothing is more fascinating andthe Founder of Iona), The Book of Kells is, perhapsimportant than to examine and study the interactionarguably, the greatest illuminated manuscript pro-and amalgamation of an alien culture with an existingone in a distant land.down to the present, Ireland and the Irish peopleThe Celtic people, of which the Irish are part,are noted for their hospitality. Friend and stranger,have had a long and glorious history. Long beforewithout exception, are immediately offered uponthe Romans under Caesar had met the Celts in theGaelic Wars, a rich and glorious culture had devel-is), with the attendant scones, butter and home-made preserves. For the Irish the key to socialwhich originated in an areajustice is generosity and the distribution of one'sMountains, Celtic culture contained very significantgoods, no matter how meager and simple thoseEastern influences, in that there is a very evidentthings might be. Typical of this mentality and prac-philosophical and mystical element in their approachtice is an ancient poem that reads:to music, art and poetry. This philosophical andO King of Stars!mystical component i found in the Celtic appre-Whether my house be dark or be brightciation of the mystery of the Divinity within all of allIt will not be closed against anybody:creation and the mystifying complexity and wonder-May Christ not close his house against me.ful beauty of all creation. This is known as CelticSpirituality. It is not confined to Ireland, but can befound, sensed and felt in the Hebrides (islands westof mainland Scotland). The Isle of Iona, after whichA Clash of Episcopal Views on the Future of the IrishIona College is named, is located in the Hebridesand contains a mystical Celtic Spirituality. Thegreat English author, Samuel Johnson, visited theNew York (Philadelphia: Balch Institute Press, 1991),Isle of Iona in 1773 and commented: "That man islittle to be envied, whose patriotism would not gainforce upon the plains of Marathon, or whose pietywould not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona."To understand the Irish one must be aware that theybrought to America this Celtic Spirituality with itsparadoxical tensions between the sense of the near-Vol. 27, 20139/22/14 8:44 PMNEW YORK 1R15H HISTORYtainly worthy of serous study. The arrival of the Celtsduced by the Western World. From ancient timesentering a house the proverbial "cuppa" (tea, thatoped. Descended from an Indo-European societyof the CarpathianRiforgiato, Leonard R. "Bishop John Timon,Archbishop John Hughes and the Irish Colonization:and the Catholic Church in America" in Pencak, W.,Berrol, S., and R. M. Miller (eds.), Immigration topp.53-54.ness and farness of God, the melancholy fleetingnessNYIHR_P35_Dunkak_V27_2R.indd 45