The Roundtable’s Fall Program Schedule

September 22, 2009

Save the Dates!

The Irish Bridget: Irish Immigrant Women

in Domestic Service, 1840-1930

Saturday, October 17, from 2-3:30 p.m.

Columbia University Law School,

The Irish Bridget

The Irish Bridget

Jerome Greene Hall, Room 101,

435 West 116th Street in Manhattan.

The nearest subway stop is for the Number 1 train at 116th Street

and Broadway (Columbia University).

Dr. Margaret Lynch-Brennan will present a program on Irish women in domestic service in the Northeast during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Despite the lack of attention by labor historians, domestic service was the chief waged occupation for women in nineteenth-century America, and in the second half of that century Irish immigrant women dominated this occupation in the urban Northeast. Bridget or Biddy was the stereotypical young Irish immigrant who worked in private homes between 1840 and 1930. Popular American literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century was rife with stories about the Irish Bridget and the havoc she allegedly wrought in middle-class American homes. But who were the actual human beings behind the stereotype? In this program, using unpublished correspondence and photographs of Irish domestics, Dr. Margaret Lynch-Brennan will discuss both the women and the reality behind the stereotype, focusing on their work life, their social life and the impact they had on Irish-American life. This presentation will be based on her new book entitled The Irish Bridget: Irish Immigrant Women in Domestic Service in America, 1840-1930, published by Syracuse University Press.

Margaret Lynch-Brennan began her career as a classroom teacher, and over time has taught at the middle school, high school, and graduate level. For many years she worked as an administrator for the New York State Education Department. She holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University at Albany (SUNY) and has presented at conferences in Australia, Germany, and Ireland, and across the United States.

A reception will follow.

There is no fee to attend, but a $3 donation is suggested for refreshments.

All are Welcome!


Irish Immigrants & County Associations in

NYC, 1946-61

Saturday, December 5, at 2-3:30 p.m.

Mother Seton National Shrine (Our Lady of the Rosary Hall),

7 State Street (between Pearl & Whitehall Streets)

opposite Battery Park, Manhattan

Dr. Miriam Nyhan will discuss the unique presence and important roles of Irish county associations in New York City during the years following World War II. The discussion will be based on her extensive research using oral interviews and archival research, and on her analyses of these special associations, their yearly activities, and their enthusiastic participants.

The post World War II era saw a massive exodus of migrants from the island of Ireland. In fact, between 1946 and 1961 approximately 500,000 emigrated: the equivalent of approximately 17% of the population. In New York, county associations played an important role in the Irish communities that greeted the new migrants. These societies provided a means by which immigrants from particular counties could reunite, socialize, and provide contacts or assistance. For many newly arrived migrants, a county association meeting or event was the first port-of-call in the search for permanent housing, jobs, or a familiar accent. Each county, through these organizations, became a guardian to those it represented, and provided invaluable safety valves to the needs of its county-people. The annual calendar of the associations was structured around key events which punctuated the year, with St. Patrick’s Day representing the highlight. As a general rule, larger counties had larger and more vibrant associations – but demographics were not the only indicator of the association strength.

Dr. Miriam Nyhan will discuss the significance that county associations had for post-war immigrants from Ireland. Starting from a premise that we can only understand that wave of immigrants by looking at the Ireland people left and the New York they arrived in, she will clarify the many roles counties associations fulfilled. To widen the focus, experiences of Irish immigrants and county associations in post-war London will also be discussed.

Miriam Nyhan is Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow at Glucksman Ireland House, New York University. She received her M.Phil. from University College, Cork and her Ph.D. from the the European University Institute. Dr. Nyhan is the author of ‘Are You Still Below?’ The Ford Marina Plant, Cork 1917-1984. She has served as a historian for Henry Ford & Son Limited, (Ford Ireland) and is currently Glucksman Ireland House’s oral historian.

Reception to follow.

There is no fee to attend, but

A $3 donation for refreshments in suggested.

All are Welcome!


The Roundtable is now on Facebook!

September 13, 2009

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Hello, Fans!

The New York Irish History Roundtable  is now on Facebook.

Please visit our Facebook page and give us a look!