"No Irish Need Apply" by Hendrickson Fine Art Photography 2019

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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.  
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A sign often found in my Minneapolis, Minnesota neighborhood.

No Irish Need Apply

An image by Nancy Wojack Hendrickson from the photo archives of the late Barry Hendrickson.

Take a look at the No Irish Need Apply prints for sale here >

If this subject interests you, here is some more detailed articles: 

“When America despised the Irish, the 19th Century’s Refugee Crisis.” on History.com >


This article gives a brief overview of the potato famine and Irish immigration. > 

“Why historians are fighting about “No Irish Need Apply” signs — and why it matters” >

12 replies
  1. Peggy Flaherty Wadsworth
    Peggy Flaherty Wadsworth says:

    Are you going to post this for purchase? My ancestors came from Ireland also. I remember what my Dad aaid that this was the case in the Eastern Shore of Maryland of signs of no Irish need apply.

    We purchased some of your husband’s art work in Southlake, TX, some years ago. It was a pleasure to meet him and talk about Ireland.

  2. Kelly Pratt
    Kelly Pratt says:

    Nancy, this is really compelling. I’m going to forward your newsletter to my father… My dad’s grandparents came here from Ireland during the potato famine – but mostly because they were persecuted there. It will be a great reminder for him in this political climate.

    • NancyH
      NancyH says:

      Thank you Kelly for the kind words. I am learning of persecution of the Irish famine immigrants in Ireland, and the coutries where they immigrated to. It’s really astonishing some of the rhetoric used against them at that time.

  3. Susan J Metoxen
    Susan J Metoxen says:

    My grandparents and great-grandparents were from Holland and Germany. They faced a lot of discrimination, and so did my father, in particular, who learned English in elementary school . We are a nation of immigrants, and we need to be welcoming to immigrants.

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