|Irish History Goes High Tech
TO much fanfare late last year, The New Yorker magazine released every
one of its issues on CD. That means they can be read on a computer
and stored very easily.
Of course, few publications can compare to The New Yorker when it
comes to literary quality. Still, for lovers of New York Irish
history, a similar event indeed has occurred.
For over 20 years the New York Irish History Roundtable (NYIHR) has
done a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to Irish American history.
They were at the center of controversy when they released a report
criticizing the Museum of the City of New York’s Gaelic Gotham
exhibit in 1996. That same year they helped produce the excellent
book The New York Irish, edited by Ronald H. Bayor and Timothy J.
In the last two decades, of course, all things Irish have become
quite chic. There are differing theories as to why.
Maybe it was the publication of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes.
Maybe it was the Riverdance craze that swept the nation when the
dance show first hit these shores.
Such massive cultural events get a lot attention. But they also
cause ripples which tend to get less attention. After all, once you
become one of several million people who have read a McCourt book,
or seen an Irish dance show, then what?
Well, if you continue to thirst for questions to your answers about
various things Irish, you have to keep looking.
That’s where cultural institutions such as the NYIHR come in. They
shed light on how average Irish Americans lived in this big, crazy
city, going back to when the Brits ruled the area, right up to the
Until recently, there was only one way you could appreciate the
range and breadth of the interesting research done by the NYIHR. You
could go to your book shelf and, if you were a member, thumb your
way through the journals they put out every year or so.
Now, there is an easier way. This deeply historical group has gone
high tech. All 17 volumes of The Journal of NYIHR are now available
on CD for the reasonable price of $24.95 (go to
www.irishnyhistory.com for details.)
You no longer need to go over to the dusty bookshelves. Simply sit
at your computer and scan through all the Irish years in New York
City. This, of course, is a valuable tool for anyone who does
professional Irish research. But it’s a whole lot more than that.
Irish books have become such a hot publishing market because Irish
Americans clearly love to read. You should see the offices of the
Irish Voice as St. Patrick’s Day approaches. Each day’s mail brings
with it many new volumes from major publishers and tiny presses
alike. Some of the books are wonderful, some are hokey, some are
Suffice it to say, with the NYIHR CDs, you know you are getting
quality history with a New York focus from proven experts in the
Some of the articles on the CDs are “Growing Up in Woodside: the
Mets at Mid-Century” by B.J. Leddy, “William O’Dwyer: An Irish Mayor
for all New Yorkers,” by Anne Sarro, “Between Yankee Stadium and
Gaelic Park,” by Mary Murphy Clogston, “Famine Relief from Brooklyn”
by Harvey Strum, “Crime, Punishment and the New York Irish” by
Marion R. Casey, Ph.D. and “Religion and the Rise of Mass
Immigration: the Irish Community in New York City 1815 to 1840” by
Kevin G. Kenny, Ph.D.
The roster of scholars and writers here is familiar to anyone who
has kept up with Irish scholarship in recent years.
A particular favorite of mine is the works of John T. Ridge, who has
published several books about the Irish and whose NYIHR articles
often focus on specific New York neighborhoods.
On the CDs, look for Ridge’s articles about the Irish in Staten
Island, as well as Greenpoint and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Obscure events such as the Union Club Riot of Thanksgiving Day, 1920
(in an by Hugh E. O’Rourke, Ph.D.) are also highlights of these
There are also many insightful reviews of top Irish books which have
come out in the last 20 years. In short, a stroll down 300 years of
Irish history is now just a mouse click away.
(Contact Sidewalks at email@example.com.