Tag Archives: Irish History

2010 Adirondack Donegal Beard Contest

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It’s that time of year again, where all the world becomes, as Jack London would say, bald face. It’s time to shave down for this year’s Adirondack Donegal Beard Contest.

A Donegal Beard (also called a chin-curtain or Lincoln) is a particular style of Irish hirsute appendage (facial hair) that grows along the jaw line and covers the chin — no soul patch, no mustache.

In order to take part in the contest (and all are welcome) contestants must be clean shaven January 1st and grow a Donegal Beard by St. Patrick’s Day. On the day of the contest — which
will be held at Durant’s (formally Casey’s) on Route 28 in North Creek, 4 to 7 pm — all beards must conform to the Donegal standard.

Contestants are judged on the following criteria:

1. Length
2. Fullness
3. Style and Sophistication
4. General Manliness

To see pictures from last year’s contest, and to join the Facebook group, go here.

Photo: 2009 Adirondack Donegal Beard Contestants.

Presentation On The Poesten Kill Thursday

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John Warren (yours truly) has written the first history of the Poestenkill ­which flows through the center of Rensselaer County and enters the Hudson River at Troy, will offer a book talk and signing this Thursday (October 22nd, 6:30 to­ 8 pm) at the Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy (57 Second Street, Troy). The event is free and open to the public. Copies of The Poesten Kill will be available for purchase at the event. The Poestenkill has been home to American Indians who hunted, gathered, fished and farmed along its shores, frontier Dutch farmers and traders, colonial tradesmen, merchants, millers, and lumbermen, and nineteenth century iron, steel, textile, and paper workers.

NYS Library’s September Noontime Programs

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In September, the New York State Library will offer three noontime author talks and book signings. On Wednesday, September 9th, Mark Jodoin will discuss his book “Shadow Soldiers of the American Revolution: Loyalist Tales from New York to Canada,” which tells the stories of ten young men and women who were forced to flee north, into what became Ontario and Quebec, because they remained loyal to the British government. On Wednesday, September 16, Dr. Margaret Lynch-Brennan will discuss her new book, “The Irish Bridget: Irish Immigrant Women in Domestic Service in America, 1840-1930,” one of the first books written on Irish servant girls. And on Wednesday, September 23, Michael Esposito, author of “Troy’s Little Italy (Images of America),” will talk about the Italian immigrants who settled in Troy, beginning in the late 1880s, and the community they created there. All programs run from 12:15 to 1:15 and are free and open to the public.

Sept. 9: Shadow Soldiers of the American Revolution: Loyalist Tales from New York to Canada

In 1778, New York State patriots forced colonists loyal to the British government to flee north into what became Ontario and Quebec. Many of the defiant young British Americans soon returned south as soldiers, spies and scouts to fight for their multigenerational farms along the Mohawk River, Lake Champlain and the Hudson River Valley. Eventually defeated, they were banished from their ancestral homelands forever. Mark Jodoin, author of the book Shadow Soldiers of the American Revolution: Loyalist Tales from New York to Canada offers an enlightened look back at ten young men and women who were forced north into what became Ontario and Quebec, sharing the struggles that these Loyalists faced during our nation’s founding.

Sept. 16: The Irish Bridget: Irish Immigrant Women in Domestic Service in America, 1840-1930

“Bridget” was the Irish immigrant servant girl who worked in American homes from the second half of the nineteenth century into the early years of the twentieth century. She was widely known as a pop culture cliché: the young Irish girl who wreaked havoc working as a servant in middle-class American homes. Many contemporary Irish-American families can find one or more of these Irish Bridgets in their background. Come hear Dr. Margaret Lynch-Brennan discuss her new book, “The Irish Bridget: Irish Immigrant Women in Domestic Service in America, 1840-1930.” This is the first book to be written on Irish servant girls. This program will be held in the Huxley Theater on the first floor of the Cultural Education Center.

Sept. 23: Troy’s Little Italy

Italian immigrants began arriving in Troy in large numbers in the late 1880s, escaping the abject poverty of their homeland. They settled among Irish immigrants who had arrived fifty years earlier in Troy’s first and eighth wards just south of the central business district, an area bustling with activity. The neighborhood contained blocks of two and three story brick buildings, a mix of row houses and free standing homes. Within a few years, these Italian immigrants began opening small businesses, particularly on Fourth Street, the neighborhood’s “Main Street,” and it was typical of the mixed residential and commercial communities in many American cities. Michael Esposito will discuss the neighborhood and its people from his new book “Troy’s Little Italy.”

A New York Veteran and Civil War Medicine

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There is an outstanding post over at the blog behind AotW [Behind Antietam on the Web]. The solider at left with the head wound is Private Patrick Hughes, Fourth Regiment, New York State Volunteers, whose story is detailed by Brian Downey.

Here’s a sample:

So Patrick and his mates [mostly from New York City] were still combat rookies [at the Battle of Antietam] when they crested the rise overlooking the sunken road at the far side of the Roulette Farm at about 9 in the morning of 17 September. The 4th New York were at the left front of the Division in line of battle, and were among the first to run into the concentrated fire of the North Carolina regiments of Anderson’s Brigade, hunkered down in the natural trench of that road. It was probably there that Patrick Hughes was shot.

Although dazed and in shock, bleeding heavily from the scalp, he dragged himself to the rear and received first aid from the regiment’s surgeon, Dr. George W Lovejoy, who reported his “patient was conscious and answered questions rationally.” He was then carried to a barn in Keedysville. He lay there until 20 September, when he was moved to a hospital in Hagerstown.

Brian Downey describes his blog as “a companion to Antietam on the Web, to catch some of the spin-off that comes from researching, writing, and coding for that site.”

Both sites are outstanding and can be found, along with a pile of other new Civil War blogs, on our blogroll at right.

New Tenement Museum Reflects Irish Immigration

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From the New York Times comes a report on the newest Tenement Museum in New York City:

The [Joseph and Bridget Moore family] place will become the sixth apartment of former immigrant residents of 97 Orchard Street to be recreated. The apartments are all nearly identical in size at about 325 square feet. One represents the home of a German Jewish family soon after the father disappeared; another a Lithuanian Jewish family whose father had just died. Another is the remade home of Italian Catholics about to be evicted.

The museum was established in 1988 in 97 Orchard, an 1864 brick building, and attracts 130,000 visitors a year. The building is a time capsule of primitive bathrooms and windowless passageways. In 1935, the building’s owners sealed off most of the 20 units rather than make changes to meet new housing codes.

The fourth-floor apartment for the Moores — it is not known exactly where in the building they lived — will be the museum’s earliest simulation and the first to reflect the huge influx of Irish immigrants in the 19th century.

“We take these dynamic, compelling family stories, and use them to draw people into the greater historical context of immigrants in America,” said Stephen H. Long, the vice president of collections and education at the museum. Members of the staff began researching the Moores five years ago.

The Moores’ experience, Mr. Long added, also made for teachable moments about the history of medicine and public health. “When the Moores lived here,” he said, “the mortality rate for Irish immigrant children was 25 percent.”

Only four of the Moores’ eight children, all girls, reached adulthood. Mrs. Moore died in 1882, when she was 36, shortly after giving birth to her eighth daughter. Curators speculate that the malnutrition that killed Agnes was brought on by drinking swill: milk from diseased cows, which street vendors ladled out of dirty vats and sometimes adulterated with chalk or ammonia.

A Virtual tour of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum is available on the web.