Monday, April 18, 2016

The Irish Part of Our History

My Northeast Kingdom historical fiction takes a huge amount of research -- and when I was working on Cold Midnight, which involves the stunningly diverse St. Johnsbury of the 1920s (including a Chinese laundry owner, but also Irish and Canadian heritage for many area residents), I stocked up on the latest historical research. Here are two books I especially enjoyed.

THE IRISH AMERICANS by Jay Dolan (2008) has John F. Kennedy on the cover, and devotes a lot of pages to Boston Irish history, even in terms of neighborhoods. But it also includes chapters on "City Hall and the Union Hall" and "It's Chic to Be Irish." The 2000 Census of our area showed 30 percent of residents had Irish heritage. A good book to delve into!

Because my book included an Irish domestic worker in a St J household that people who know the region may recognize as the Fairbanks home, I also valued Margaret Lynch-Brennan's 2009 book  THE IRISH BRIDGET, subtitled "Irish Immigrant Women in Domestic Service in America, 1840-1930." There are revelations in each chapter, from the effects of the Potato Famine to how these women lived in American households. It's a slower read, but fascinating.

Both books will be at the Davies Memorial Library later this week. -- Beth Kanell

PS - What other areas of history, or specific titles, would you like to see added to the Davies collection? Be sure to let Jen know:

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