A great many Irish immigrated to Canada and the US. Why did they leave and why did they choose these countries?

by | Aug 4, 2021 | Questions & Answers

In the 1700s Presbyterian Scots-Irish migrated from Ireland to mainly America to escape religious and economic persecution. America was a land that promised free land and a new start. They were mostly industrious farmers. By the time of the American Revolution in 1775 there were 250,000 in America.

In the 1800s predominantly Catholic Irish citizens immigrated to the United States due to the Great Hunger (Potato Famine) in Ireland. The British overlords took the good foodstuffs and left their Irish servants with rotten potatoes in the 1840s to 1860s. More than a million died of starvation or disease and half a million arrived in America. Those who could afford it were transported in ‘coffin ships’ so named because somewhere between 20 and 50% of the passengers died in transit.

In the 1840s the Irish immigrants comprised nearly half of all the newcomers to the United States.


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