Irish-American Religion
Religion of Americans of Irish descent, General Social Survey 2000-2012

St. Patrick's Day Graph: Irish in America are Protestant, not Catholic

Irish-American Religion

Religion of Americans of Irish descent, General Social Survey 2000-2012

In the American imagination, to be Irish is to be Catholic. The data, however, is clear: most Irish-Americans are not Catholic, and Irish-Americans make up a minority of Catholics in America. Nearly half of Irish-Americans are Protestant; a third are Catholic. The proportions are more equal (roughly 40 percent each) between those that were raised Catholic or Protestant.

Many Irish-Americans, particularly in the South, are evangelicals. In fact, Michael P. Carroll, a dean at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, reports that Irish-Americans make up a larger share of evangelicals in the South (20 percent) than their share of Catholicism elsewhere (16 percent). That's right---a Southern Baptist is more likely to be Irish than is a Catholic.

The link between being Irish and being Catholic remains strong in the American imagination. To be really Irish is to be Catholic. To give one trivial example, the University of Notre Dame football team was called 'Fighting Irish' because 'Fighting Irish' was used interchangeably with the school's other early nickname, 'Fighting Catholics'. The school, which is officially named L’Université de Notre Dame du Lac, was founded by French priests, not Irish, but the name Fighting Irish stuck.

This conflation of Irish and Catholic identities is, in part, bigotry. The Irish immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s were a threat to Protestant America. Earlier immigrants from Ireland who were Protestant were viewed as not truly Irish. They were 'Scotch-Irish', which meant that they were really of 'Anglo-Saxon' stock, not the 'savage' Irish race. Carroll points out, however, that these so-called Scotch-Irish were fully Irish, just ones with loose ties to the Presbyterian church. Many left the Presbyterian church and became Methodist or Baptist. There were also many Catholics in pre-Famine America who converted to Protestantism.

Carroll concludes that being Irish in America has two different meanings today. For Catholics, the link between being Catholic and being Irish is now entrenched, with Irish Catholics often viewed as being devout. "Claiming an Irish identity can function for Catholic Americans as a way of presenting themselves to others as a good Catholic," Carroll said.

For Protestants, however, being Irish is a link back to 'Scotch-Irish' roots that go back to the 1700's. It is an ethnicity associated with individualism, evangelicalism, and determination. "Claiming an Irish identity today is a way for Protestant Americans to associate themselves with the values of the American Revolution, or, if you will, is a way of using ethnicity to be American," Carroll concluded.

For both Protestants and Catholics, being Irish is something to be proud of. This is one reason why so many Americans claim to be Irish, even if only part of their ancestry is Irish.  According to the General Social Survey, roughly one-in-eight Americans say that their primary ancestry is Irish. This Irish diaspora in America is large. According to the General Social Survey, 12 percent of Americans or over 36 million people claim to have an Irish ancestry. This is six times more than the current population of the Emerald Isle (there are 4.6 million people in the Republic of Ireland and another 1.8 million in Northern Ireland). This large number of Irish in America is far more than would be expected to occur from the four million Irish immigrants. Sociologists Michael Hout and Joshua Goldstein found that one reason is preference. Put simply: Americans like to think of themselves as being Irish, even if what it means to be Irish is not the same for everyone.

Question wording from the General Social Survey:

  • From what countries or part of the world did your ancestors come?
  • What is your religious preference? Is it Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, some other religion, or no religion?
  • In what religion were you raised?


  1. Hello Tobin Grant.

    I read this blog with interest. It has changed my perspective. I’m a Scot and have spent my entire life in Scotland to date. My personal interest is that I have some family who were and are Irish (of the Catholic faith). I also have some other Scots family who emigrated to North America (Ontario, Canada to be precise) and an English relative who emigrated to North America initially and then emigrated to Scotland. So emigrant/immigrant identities are of interest to me.

    Thanks for your blog.

    My only comment relates to the section where you mention the so called ‘Scotch-Irish’ presbyterians/prodestants who arrived in America before the famine emigrants were not really considered fully Irish, but Anglo-Saxon in origin as opposed to native “savage” Irish “race”.

    My immediate reaction to this is: “what is Anglo-Saxon in the modern historical era? I thought Anglo Saxon was a culture and people in the dark ages until the medieval period?”

    And secondly, assuming “Anglo Saxon” is employed to mean “proto-English” or “having their origin in England”, how could Ulster folk who were planted there from Scotland, be considered “Anglo – Saxon”? Surely, Scots/Scotch/Scottish/Scotch-Irish/Scots-Irish ought to be understood as being Scottish in origin? That is, the dark age and medieval Scottish people / culture who first became a power in Dalriada (modern day Argyll), the same people who forged what is now Scotland into a nation (as now understood)?

    Does “Anglo Saxon” relate to language or to the oldest known ethnic origin of a group of people? The languages of Scotland – before the 20th century rise of the standarised English of the elites of south east England – were the Gaelic and Scots languages. The Gaelic dominated first, then Scots. Scottish Gaelic is at the Scottish end of a language continuum with the Irish Gaelic (Manx Gaelic is somewhere on there too). Scots is on a language continuum with modern standard English, sharing a linguistic ancestor with it in Old English or Anglic. It then took a dofferent path with different levels of influence from Norse/Danish, Flemish/Dutch, Gaelic, French. Scots was the state language of the Scots Royal Court until James IV also became the King of the English in 1603. Scots was the first northern European language into which Virgil’s Aeneid was translated.

    Archeaology and toponymy shows that only the south east of Scotland (East Lothian, Tweeddale, Liddesdale, Berwickshire, Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire) was settled significantly by these Anglic speaking communities from Northumbria, in modern day northern England. The language they spoke eventually cross fertilised with the afore mentioned languages in the merchant burghs of Scotland up and down
    the east coast of Scotland and over into Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire to create the Scots language.

    So only some of the speakers of the Scots language had their ancestral origins in the Anglic Northumbrian settlers of south east Scotland.

    So how could the presbyterians planted in Ulster in the 17th century, some of whose offspring ended up in 18th and 19th century colonial America, be labelled “Anglo-Saxon”?

    Why would 19th century thinkers revive a medieval identity label applied to a people in proto-England to describe a people who arrived in America via Ulster via south western Scotland?

    Especially as many had names which were found in Scotland, not England. Names like McClelland, Clelland, Hamilton, Campbell, Beattie?

    Archeaology and toponymy demonstrates that the culture of this Anglo(Saxon) population of medieval Scotland was a minority element limited to settling in south eastern Scotland and southern Dumfrieshire. In fact, after the Wars of Independence to thwart English imperial aggression, these “Inglis” or “Old English”/”Anglic”) speakers renamed their own language “Scots”, adopting the name of the Gaelic language which had once been called “Scottish”, except in Gaelic itself where it is called Gàidhlig – a bit like Irish/Gaelige.

    I realise that you are merely explaining antiquated, bigoted, and biased 19th century illinformed views of how language, politics and religion interacted with and influenced perceived ethnicity (however defined).

    But, again, how could a so called Scotch-Irish American with a name like Alexander McClelland or James Campbell or Patrick Hamilton be considered to have an “Anglo-Saxon” origin?

    Is this an example of prodestant Scots/Scotch-Irish willingly associating themselves with Englishness, denying the full complexity of the historical origins of the Scots nation, for political and sectarian reasons?

    “Scottish” used be synonymous with “Irish”. Scotia Major was Ireland, Scotia Minor was Scotland.

    The rewriting or Scottish history and the manipulation of it to construct new identities for political reasons is fascinating!

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  3. This article was enlighting. The assumption indeed has always been that irish was always catholic and anything else was not true irish. I wish the author would do something on anglo saxon americans or rather english american protestants in america and also catholic americans who are of english descent and not protestant. I would like someone to tackle that. Especially since you don’t here anything about english american idenity like you do the irish or italians.

  4. @ Daniel

    Growing up in Texas in the 60s and 70s, it seems to me that these terms weren’t used with too much historical precision. As a kid, I thought that “Scotch-Irish” meant partly Scottish, partly Irish. The whole Northern Ireland thing was never really explained to me. So there are probably adults who don’t really understand.

    “Anglo” could just mean a white guy. Also, anyone with a dark complexion and a Spanish surname was “Mexican”.

  5. what amazes me about irllend scotland and usa you must change your religion when you marry into a diferent faith god is for all and there is no need for this if you believe in god that is your faith

  6. Well, protestants aren’t actually irish, so your whole point is moot.

  7. Yes, it’s clear the construction of identities is often arbitrary. Contriving to be “less Irish” on account of their Scots Protestant heritage may have served the desire of immigrants to integrate, but as you note it’s obviously a fiction given the history of the usage of terms Irish and Scottish. Diarmaid MacCulloch’s documentary on the History of Christianity has a fascinating segment of how Scots-Irish settlers laid the foundations of Appalachian evangelicalism. I myself grew up in Toronto, which is said to be the only major city in North America to have received more Protestant immigrants than Catholic in the 19th C (although there were certainly plenty of each, and I’m descended from both!)

  8. If you were Irish Catholic it would make all the sense in the world.

  9. With all due respect: The Scotch-Irish are not the ones against whom signs reading “No Irish Need Apply” were posted. This group were not even identified as Irish, but American; the identity of “Irish” was always applied to those who emigrated due to the mid-1840s famine from the Catholic-majority lands, and a great deal of them were speakers of the Irish language rather than English (the Scotch-Irish spoke English as a first language). The Scotch-Irish also were not the ones that instituted St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, since that was a Catholic feast day.

  10. The original Scots were a tribe who came from the dalriada area in what is now county Antrim in northern Ireland. The Scots / Irish are one and the same

  11. This article is misleading. Nearly 100% of people of Irish decent are Catholic. The people in the south who you say are Irish, are not Irish, but rather Scottish. Somewhere along the line, people in the south, who in the old days called themselves people of Scottish decent, started being told, I forget who coined the phrase “Scots Irish”, coined that phrase “Scots Irish”. These Scottish people were originally Scottish people who lived in Scotland, but later these Ulster Scots were resettled in Northern Ireland by the English in order to keep an eye on the unruly Irish.

    The Irish and the newly resettled Scotsmen “Scot-Irish” as they later became to be known, were always at each others throats killing each other and fighting. A large chunk of these Scottish people who were resettled in Northern Ireland, later came to the U.S. and migrated south to our southern states. Southern people are Scottish, not Irish. The ancestors of today’s southerners “Scots-Irish” and the Irish hated each other, and if they knew that one day their descendants would mistaken think that they are Irish and call themselves Irish, they would roll over in their graves.

    This misleading nonsense needs to stop. A good rule of thumb to determine if your Scottish or Irish is to look at your religion. If you are Catholic, you can be 99.9% sure that you are Irish. If you are Protestant, you can be 99.9% sure that you are Scottish. They are not the same thing, just because this group of Scots were resettled in Ireland. Like I said, the real Irish, and the Scots-Irish hated each other because the latter invaded their land.

    Stop misleading people of the south by telling them that they are Irish. They are not Irish, they are Scottish.

  12. The people in the south never called themselves scottish ,there’s not a single document of them ever referring to themselves as anything but irish ,all documents shown them prior to the 19th century referring to themselves as simply irish so l very much doubt they would turn over in thier graves like you’re suggesting . the term scots irish was created in the 19th century as propaganda and bigotry against the newly arriving catholic irish which has been point out in the article ,basically to differentiate between the two thus making it justified to be racist to the latter , actually it was a scot who created the ulster plantations not the english ,king james the 1st was a scot who planted scottish and english settlers in mostly ulster to subdue the unruly wild irish .

    The problem with your statement is .A. the people now called the scots irish never referred to themselves as anything but irish in written records , a significant amount seem to bare purely irish surnames .this presents a real problem for people like you .

    most serious historians do not take the idea of the scots irish seriously anymore ,the myth stems from the 19th century nothing more .

  13. While all Irish names have been somewhat Anglicized, there are many readily recognizable Irish Celtic names, as opposed to Irish settler names as in Norman, English, Welsh and Scottish as well as other European countries such as Germany. An accurate non propagandized version of Irish history will show that there was historic marriage between Protestants and Catholics as well as religious conversions to the others denomination between Catholics and Protestants. 19th Century Canada for example demonstrates a high degree of Protestant/Catholic inter-marraige in English speaking Canada. Unusually high for peoples that supposedly did not like one another. There were also a significant number of Catholic Highland Scottish thrown into the mix.
    Any Irish Catholic or Protestant would instantly recognize an Irish-Celtic names such as ‘Murphy, Kelly, O’Neill, O’Brien, Sullivan..etc’. Current historians have traced many of these names to the colonial period in America. Many holding obvious Irish -Celtic names have to be the descent of indentured servants preceding the famine by at least a century. They can call themselves ‘bushmen of the Kalahari’ or whatever, if they or any genetic ancestor holds a recognizably Irish surname, they are Irish! DNA studies would confirm this. Many other Anglo type surnames are also popular in Ireland such as…’Smith, Brown & Green.’ I suspect that as the human DNA project becomes more widespread we will discover that most of the so called Scots-Irish or Anglo-Irish in America have Irish-Celtic genes in whole or in part. Of course many Irish-Americans will have English, Scottish and Welsh genes as well.

  14. And since this article represents false truths, the author should completely delete this entire article for misrepresenting the truth. Those Protestant Irish this article speaks of are not Irish, they are Scottish.

  15. You’re going to have to do a lot better than copy-and-paste random professors if you want to sell what is, quite frankly, a cartoon of an argument. But I fail to see just what you could possibly come up with when the genetic evidence is in a direct challenge with everything you want to believe on this matter. And challenging you from the other side, and in full agreement with the genetic evidence, is the surname analyses done on “Scotch-Irish” settlements. Until you’ve spent long night hours for several years reading books like this:,+by+Jeannette+Holland+Austin&source=bl&ots=KX4VN6mnt8&sig=3aJ6_8Qf-F3TUm-4KgKlW55ThpA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi7tKSs7fLbAhVNnFkKHWthBwwQ6AEITTAJ#v=onepage&q=The%20Georgia%20Frontier%3A%20Revolutionary%20War%20families%20to%20the%20mid-1800s%22%2C%20by%20Jeannette%20Holland%20Austin&f=false

    and then performing a surname analysis of all the Scotch-Irish settlements, there is “zero” chance you have a clue about the ethnic composition of this group. And you will have learned nothing if you perform an extensive surname analysis and make the foolish mistake of thinking surname origin is surely a reliable proxy for an ethnic picture. You would then have to compare the results of your analysis with the actual DNA evidence to arrive at a thorough understanding of who the Scotch-Irish were.

    A certain Mr. Barry McCain is currently running the largest Scotch-Irish DNA project, and he can enlighten you further with his results. His expertise on the matter is without question.

    Here is what the genetic evidence actually says:

    “There is a stereotype of all Scots-Irish being descendants of Ulster Scots that in turn were descendants of Lowland Scots who settled in Ulster during the Ulster Plantation in the seventeenth century. It is true that many were; it is also true that many families that were Scots-Irish have other origins. As many as 35% of the Scots-Irish are of Highland Scots ancestry, usually from mid and northern Argyll or Lennox. These two areas in the Highlands were influenced by the reformed church movement in Scotland at an early date and also had migration to the north of Ireland beginning in the 1500s and continuing into the 1600s. Two of the most numerous ‘Scots-Irish’ surnames are Campbell and MacDonald, both of Highland Scots origin.

    Other families also became Scots-Irish. In east Donegal and in the Bann valley area, there were many native Irish families that converted to the reformed church and later the Presbyterian faith, and also were part of the Ulster migration to the New World in the 1700s.

    There were also a number of Welsh and English families that were living in Ireland and participated in the Ulster Migration and that became part of the Scots-Irish society in the Colonies. In the Colonies the process continued, with Platt Deutsch, American Indian, and others, marrying into and became allied to and part of the Scots-Irish community here.

    While most Scots-Irish came from the nine counties that make up the province of Ulster in the north of Ireland, some Scots-Irish came from other parts of Ireland. By the 1700s there were families of Scottish origin living in many parts of Ireland and some Scots-Irish have ancestors that migrated to the Colonies from Mayo, Sligo, Dublin, Cork, etc.”

    There certainly were native Irish Protestants who were a part of Scots-Irish Society. Here are some of the project’s results:

    The DNA evidence and surname evidence is in a serious conflict with you.

    The use of “Scotch-Irish”, as a means to describe the Protestant Irish, gained currency in the U.S. when it became a nativist nod which signaled to other good Protestants that the person to whom it was being applied was a naturally-born American of the Protestant persuasion, and not one of those famine arrivals who lacked the Protestantism and industry to import social goods to our land. “Scotch” was chosen in reference to the prevalence of Scottish Presbyterianism among the ranks of these 18th Century migrants, and had nothing whatever to do with the ethnic composition of any one particular person.

    It is not the business of you or me or anyone else to narrow or broaden the parameters within which a group has been historically defined, as if definitions of this nature were subject to the same quirks and whims that alter dictionaries. You can not change the past. You would be lucky enough to count yourself among the few who’ve learned from it.

  16. Have to be descended from indentured servants? Have to be? Really? The chances of an 18th Century “native Irish” Protestant (and I mean Presbyterian or some other dissenting denomination) finding himself in indentured servitude was no greater than that of a Scot or any other British commoner. There were also native Irish families who converted to Henry VIII’s new Anglican Church, and had been Anglo-Irish gentry enjoying the benefits of the penal laws for almost 200 years when the first group of Ulster dissenters came to the U.S. More than a few of these Anglo-Irish came over with dissenters on their own accord and immediately made a name for themselves. Their names are on towns and counties throughout the South (mostly), they held political offices, and many owned mega-plantations.

    Out of all the Protestant cultural groups that originate from Protestant-minority countries or territories, in no other do we see this form of pseudo-historical belittling that we see with the Protestant Irish. Not with the Huguenots of France; the Palatines of Germany; or even the Waldensians of Northern Italy, who were reformed a good 400 years before the Reformation, do we see mysterious attempts to claim that they all came here in abject servitude. It is understood with no problem that the French Huguenots and German Palatines had an experience in this country that was starkly different than their papist counterparts, as did the Italian Waldensians of Appalachia have the precise opposite experience to the Southern Italian immigrants. The historical record shows the same to be true for the Protestant Irish: they were farmers, gristmill operators, blacksmiths, tavern owners, plantation owners, slave owners, politicians, military officers, educators, preachers, and anything else the typical white Protestant did in the colonial and antebellum era.

    All I can think of to explain this phenomenon is that the loudest voices in the debate are the papist Irish who would love for nothing more than to strip Irish heritage away from all Irish Protestants, and the “Scotch-Irish” who are too cowardly to defend the heritage their forbears extolled. Nowhere do we see papist French or Germans trying to strip French and German heritage from Huguenots and Palatines, nor do we see Huguenots and Palatines pretending not to be French or German.

  17. It seems my comment was denied because it included links to evidence that thoroughly refuted your entire premise. So I’ll now give you the short, un-sourced version of it.

    You’ve been boasting: “The people in the South you say are Irish, are not Irish but rather Scottish.” By the end you were in a real frenzy: “They are not Irish. They are Scottish.”

    You could’ve probably removed the entire section in between and your point would’ve stood just as clear.

    I found your argument cute in the way a 108 year old man calls a TV a “gizmo”: you’re a few decades too late and confused about what you’re seeing. This article claimed that the Irish diaspora in America are majority Protestant, and this isn’t new, unstudied material. This has been known for a few decades now.

    A few decades ago the United States government conducted a consensus which asked Irish Americans to state their religious affiliations. It was actually the first time the government attempted to quantify the number of people with Irish ancestry in this country. They received a number of 40 million, which exceeded their expectations; and, much to everyone’s surprise, more than half of them were Protestant. The first thing everyone thought of to explain this was exactly what you’re arguing here: they are “Scotch-Irish” who identify as Irish. So in the 1990 consensus, and for the first time in US history, they included a separate category for “Scotch-Irish” people. Out of the 40 million reporting Irish ancestry, only 5 million identified as Scotch-Irish — nowhere near the half they were expecting. Out of the remaining Irish Americans (not “Scotch-Irish” like you’re arguing, as they were already weeded out of the equation), again the clear majority were Protestant.

    I’ll cut to the chase. After a couple of decades of study, it’s been learned that Ireland had a notable middle class during the reign of the ascendancy, and great numbers of these people came here throughout the 18th Century (and more than a few came throughout the 19th, though the famine rendered them all but invisible). They were not “Scottish” or Presbyterians: these people were Church of Ireland Anglicans, and most were from an upper middle class background (many were skilled artisans). I happen to have first hand knowledge of this because my ancestors (at least my Protestant Irish ones) were a part of this group. They were Church of Ireland in the old country and continued to attend Anglican churches in the colonies (known as Episcopal churches since American Independence, ). They came here in 1718. They crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains with other pioneers, settling first in Virginia, then Georgia, and then pushed further west. I have ancestors who fought in every war on this soil since the French and Indian.

    I used to think I was a unicorn among the Irish diaspora until I learned I am in a majority subset. President Obama’s Irish ancestor, Fulmouth Kearney, another Church of Ireland immigrant and skilled artisan, was also in this class. If readers want to look up information about Obama’s ancestor, they will invariably come across articles referencing these surveys and the information I am speaking of.

    Most of the Protestant Irish have American lineages that predate the famine by many generations. They are not “Scotch-Irish”, so your argument’s irrelevant.

  18. Why won’t my comment show? I am attempting to reply here. There are no profanities, links, or anything else that may render it inappropriate.

  19. Actually, when I moved out West (from New England originally), MOST of the surnames that “sounded” Irish…….even and especially the ones beginning with “Mc”, turned out to be Scottish in origin. Or might be listed as “Scottish OR Irish”, Which is very different from the Irish surnames in the Northeast of the United States where the Irish surnames have ALWAYS BEEN Irish surnames. NOT: could be Scottish OR Irish, NOT: started off as Mac and became Mc, etc. etc. The Irish surnames in New England are generally JUST IRISH.. .

    The only reason the Scots Irish were “Irish” when they immigrated to the States is because it had been their NATIONALITY, NOT their ETHNICITY prior to emigrating from Ireland. But their ancestors were Scottish. If you test the DNA of someone like that, they’ll only come up 40-50% “Irish”. If you test the DNA of someone from the REPUBLIC/SOUTH of Ireland with a real Irish surname (that has ALWAYs been an Irish surname), and whose Catholic family immigrated to the Northeast in the 1800s during the famine, you’ll find they’re like 95% “Irish”. Not that there’s many thoroughbreds left. Read any article on if you want to see the genetic difference.

    So, it doesn’t matter how the Scots-Irish referred to themselves. I can call myself a “Native American” since the word American refers to the concept/country built by white people in the 1600s and I’m also partly descended from the earliest white settlers. But that’s not the same as being TRULY “Native American” the way a Navajo or Lakota person is. And even if I were a small part Navajo or Hopi, but I chose to live as a white/mostly white person and support political policies that hurt real natives, then I’m not “native” in the same way a 100% “native” (Navajo, Apache) is who practices their traditions or lives among their relatives/culture.. It’s like saying Mexicans are the same as Native Americans. They’re not. (And by the way, indigenous tribes in Mexico also claim they’re treated unfairly by the greater Mexican people/government/system).

    And if Scots-Irish and TRUE Irish were the same, then why was Northern Ireland such a mess for so long ??? With all the fighting, etc. ???
    And most of the Irish Americans I grew up with in the Northeast of the United States were either Democrats or liberal Republicans. You can’t say that about the descendants of the Scots-Irish in the Southern United States. And it’s not the South that made them right wing. It’s THEM that contributed to making the South right wing.

    Cutturally, the Scots-Irish were the rednecks who screwed over the indigenous Catholic Irish in northern Ireland…………..that’s what “The Troubles” were about.
    By the way, the terms Redneck and Hillbilly referred to the Scots-Irish in the south. And the word Cracker has more than one theory as to its origin. You might want to look up the tradition of the “Fiery Cross” in the Lowland part of Scotland. Its how the lowland Scottish Klans, I mean Clans, used to announce they were going to war with each other.

    And why do I, as someone who is half REAL Irish and from New England have a very hard time identifying with the Southern hillbilly rednecks who are descendant of the Scots-Irish and who mostly voted for Trump ?
    Sorry, but by the time the Scots-Irish came to America, they had already lost their Irish heritage long before. That’s why the ones that remained in Ireland were so hated by the real Irish in Ireland for so long. That’s what all the violence in Northern Ireland had been about.

    And there was a big difference between the type of man Andrew Jackson was and the type of man John F Kennedy was. And it isn’t just because they were born in different centuries.

    Most seriouos historians DO understand the difference between the Scots-Irish and the Irish. Anyone that lived through “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland, or anyone that is related to someone who is Irish American and grew up in an Irish American background knows this.

    The German and Swiss were referred to as “Pennsylvania Dutch” because they either left PORTS in the Netherlands, or Anglo Americans misundertood when they said they were “Deutsch”. “African-Americans” are very different from “European-Americans” despite both having American in their name. There continue to be issues surrounding race in this country despite the fact that African-Americans, who are part white, descend in part from the same ancestors of Anglo-Americans..
    So Scots-Irish could have called themselves anything they wanted to. It doesn’t make it true.

    (By the way, Northern Ireland is an embarrassment to both England and the Republic of Ireland).

  20. Thank you, John Oden. And just to be clear, in reference to my post above, I have no problem with Scottish people/their descendants that live in Scotland………the ones that King James DIDN’T feel the need to execute or send to Ireland.
    And I also know that Northern Ireland has long since moved on from the sectarian violence of the past.
    And my half brother and half sister are about half Scottish descent (by way of their Canadian grandparents).
    Southerners also always claim to be part “Cherokee”, lmao. If only they could hear what REAL Native Americans have to say, lol.

  21. Your post is, to be sure, the purest junk, and second only to Oden’s mad rants on this page. The “Scotch-Irish” were a Know-Nothing-inspired nativist fable, and the only purpose the label existed for was to protect naturally-born Irish Protestants from the anti-Catholic hysteria of the mid-19th Century. That’s all it is. That’s all it ever was.

    Take several months (at the very least) out of your schedule to review the genealogy literature on the “Scotch”-Irish settlements of colonial America, and take note of all the “real” Irish (another sectarian gem of a term) names in the records — they’re found all over the place. I will recommend for you good starting points, and show you how to access things like Revolutionary War rolls and church records. When that’s finished, consider the results of the recent Scotch-Irish DNA projects, which are also in complete and utter conflict with the pseudo-genetic claims you’ve been making here. I can only wish this site would allow me to publish links.

    Yes, Northern Ireland is an embarrassment, and it’s been made an embarrassment by an ethno-religious polarization that’s premised on the same pseudo-history and pseudo-genetics getting peddled here by people like you (a Catholic sectarian) and people like Oden (a Protestant sectarian). More experts – historians, genetic genealogists, etc – need to speak up before this embarrassment is on full display in America as well.

  22. ‘False truth’ is a particularly stupid oxymoron that has shown itself to be quite dangerous in this historical moment. This article wasn’t that. It was accurate to precision, and the information within it is fully supported by the genealogy records, the Scotch-Irish DNA projects, and a sophisticated understanding of Irish-American history. And even if we were to ignore the Scotch-Irish subject entirely, we wouldn’t have to look terribly far to find evidence of Irish Protestantism in this country. Out of the previous six US Presidents, three have confirmed Irish ancestry, which was either Protestant by descent or conversion: Ronald Reagan was a Protestant convert; Bill Clinton was related to an arm of the Cassidys, and they were Protestant; and Barack Obama, on his mother’s side, descends from a rather burly guy named Falmouth Kearney, who was Church of Ireland. Sarah Palin is related to the Sheerans, who were evangelical Christians, while the sitting Vice President converted to his mega-church faith while he was in college.

    Then there was John McCain, who was almost synonymous with “Scotch-Irish American”, despite that his ancestral origin confuses the belief that the Scotch-Irish were all descended from the plantation settlers. His clan descended from the Highlands – not Lowlands – and they were one of a multitude of Highland families who migrated to Ulster in the 1500s, a century before the plantation, and then became part of the Scotch-Irish in the New World. There were also “native Irish” (whatever this means) families from the Bann Valley and Donegal who joined the reformed church movement in Northern Ireland and participated in the 18th Century migrations to the colonies (like the family of Revolutionary War sniper Timothy Murphy), not to mention the Catholics who converted to Protestantism once they were in colonial America (like the family of the Revolutionary War General John Sullivan).These fellows aren’t anomalies who prove some other rule; they are useful examples of a much larger migration component which has left millions of descendants, and the evidence for this claim is in the settlement records, and is in the DNA labs.

    It is quite the misfortune for this thread and fortunate for Oden that I am not allowed to post any sources here, which would convincingly show that his incessant ravings are the artwork of a distinguished amateur, pushing the same stale ethno-religious myths which currently plague Northern Ireland.

  23. You’re welcome Morgan. And I do believe Irish people have a right to be angry over what happened in Northern Ireland, that is their land after all. But I don’t blame the Ulster Scots, today’s American Southerners, I blame the English for using Scottish people to create a buffer between themselves and the Irish. I just think it’s sad that most of today’s southerners don’t know their Scottish ancestry because of the misleading Scots-Irish label.

    As far as southerners claiming to be part Cherokee, I myself question that as well. I have yet to see a southerner who looks like a native American. 😉

  24. I’m not even going to bother arguing with you Jonathan, because first of all, there are hundreds of papers written on this subject, by university professors, genealogists, and other scholars, like the one I posted above, that clearly, without a doubt, proves that the “Scots-Irish”, today’s American Southerners, are Scottish, not Irish.

    And second of all, the fact that you resort to name-calling and insults towards anyone who disagrees with you just shows how immature and uneducated you are. Anyone with your childish tone doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously in any discussion. I think you need to get off the internet and go finish your high school studies so you can graduate.

  25. Hundreds — no, thousands — no, millions of papers written on this and for all your bluster, the only thing you’ve managed to cite is some silly little essay that reads like it was written for fourth graders. Since it is plainly the case that you are oblivious to the content supporting this article, it was a ‘real’ research paper written by Michael Carroll, in which he addressed all of these points and plenty more in a scholarly manner. You can read it by searching for “American Catholics in the Protestant Imagination” along with “How the Irish Became Protestant in America”. I would insist that others reading this see for themselves; compare Carroll’s research with Oden’s copy and paste job, and prepare for a comedy.

    It is also patently so that you are ignorant of some of the most rudimentary aspects of Scotch-Irish history. In one of your initial posts you cried, “If they knew that one day their descendants would call themselves Irish, they would roll over in their graves.” And just who is ‘they’? The “Scotch”-Irish never either identified with a Scottish heritage or called themselves “Scotch-Irish” until the middle of the 19th Century, when they sought to retain their respectability as thoroughly assimilated middle and upper-middle class Protestant Americans by distancing themselves from the largely poor, Catholic refugees of The Great Hunger. There is no historical precedent for this label prior to this period, and plenty of evidence that these Protestant Ulstermen (and women) fully embraced an Irish identity. They organized the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the 1730s; they formed Irish societies, such as The Hibernian Society and The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick; and many of them talked and wrote explicitly about their sense of Irishness. When Andrew Jackson spoke to The Charitable Irish Society during his presidential bid, he remarked to the attendees, “I feel much gratified, sir, at this testimony of respect shown me by The Charitable Irish Society of this city. It is with great pleasure that I see so many of the countrymen of my father assembled on this occasion. I have always been proud of my ancestry and of being descended from that noble race..” In short, the statement you made is pseudo-historical and provably so.

    “They were always at each other’s throats killing each other and fighting.”

    The sectarian tension between the Plantation Scots and locals was far less pronounced in the 18th Century, and at some periods we may even be tempted to describe their relationship as harmonious, particularly when they were allied against the Anglicans. On this basis, there was certainly more intermarriage between the groups than later ethnoreligious revisionists would have everyone believe, especially in the British-American colonies. Carroll already addressed this point in his research paper. This statement of yours is, once again, historically untenable.

    Here’s a simple way to get involved in the genealogy of this issue without any resources. Go to the Revolutionary War rolls on Ancestry dot com and access the National Archives. Search for any Irish last name you can think of, and start writing down the hits you receive. The archives will return a name, a rank, and the respective colonial militia. So now you have a full name, a military rank, and the state/colony of an Irish-American (or would-be American). Then start digging around the genealogy literature until you find marriage records, church records and other religious indicators. I’ll give the average person about two months of dedicated research before the realization sinks in that Oden’s been weaving yarns.

    Although I should say that all of this misses the mark. I’ll pretend that Oden’s argument is historically valid. (It isn’t, but let’s just pretend for a greater purpose.) Accepting his premise as true, his singular focus on 18th Century colonials comes with the implication that American immigrants come to this country with the intent of achieving a greater sense of freedom and opportunity only to find themselves frozen in cultural time and geographical space. Or to put it another way, Irish-Americans who have American lineages that date to the famine have a family history in this country that is over 160 years old, and they are now fully assimilated Americans with old stock ancestries. But in Oden’s mind there was a mysterious force present for over a century and one half, prohibiting them from leaving the region their ancestors settled, converting to new religions, and falling in love and marrying people from other ethnic backgrounds. Oden’s not the first one to promote this frozen-in-time essentializing ethnic mythology. It was actually tested in a study conducted by Reginald Byron and published in his 2000 book ‘Irish America’. And in the data for Irish-American marriage habits, the only notable pattern to speak of was that Irish-Americans showed a preference for marrying people of other British Isle ancestries, regardless of religion. This means that an Irish-American is more likely to marry a Scottish Protestant than a presumably Catholic Pole or Italian.

    In other words, Oden’s premise is not only bizarrely ridiculous, it is a sociological fairy tale.

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