No Irish Need Apply
How Soon We Forget
I usually like to spend a great amount of time working on an image before revealing it. However, I feel compelled by recent events to show the photograph here in its preliminary stage. Tacked to the wall of a pub is a sign, surrounded by currency from all parts of the world. It states “Help Wanted – No Irish Need Apply.”
My ancestors were Irish immigrants. They faced this kind of discrimination here in the United States. This sign would have been directed at them. The shunning of immigrants is not a new issue. This has been going on a long time.
The Irish Potato Famine sent over a million of Irish fleeing this small country. Many of those refugees were desperately poor and suffering from starvation. My own Irish ancestors came to America during the famine years to save themselves, to find a new life.
During those years of heavy Irish immigration (1845 – 1852) there was strong anti-Irish sentiment and many negative Irish stereotypes prevailed. Those with Irish accents or Irish names, were barred from housing and employment opportunities. Signs like this one photographed by Barry were common.
The United States is a nation of immigrants. How soon we forget. A generation or two will go by, and we will have figured out how to fit in. We have found some comfort and gained our own stability. So perhaps, we don’t recognize in those refugees today, our own ancestors. The needs, the hopes and the dreams are the same.
I hope this image can help us remember the past and our own ancestors, and in doing so, find ways to help new immigrants and refugees who seek asylum here, feel welcome.