The twenties, thirties, and especially the forties (the period of the
Great Irish Famine and abortive revolution on the continent) were marked by
a large foreign immigration, principally Irish and German. When
canal-building in the twenties and thirties increased the demand for labor,
experienced Irish canal-diggers responded in droves, entering the State by
way of Canada as well as through the port of New York. They swung picks and
shovels, lived in leady-roofed shanties and worshiped God with missionary
priests. Although wages as low as 50 cents a day fell short of what was
promised, and although in numberless cases men were defrauded of their pay
and discharged without cause, it has been said that "the wild Irish behaved
better than Revolutionary soldiers on the march." By 1840 they had channeled
the State with 13 canals totaling more than 900 miles; and from
canal-building they turned to railroad construction. But they did more than
dig ditches and lay rails; they "were working on the foundations of three
episcopal sees, were choosing sites for five hundred churches, were opening
the interior of the State to the empire of religion, as well as of commerce."

      Beginning about 1840, additional hordes of Irish, fleeing the great
potato famine at home, came to the American shore. Between 1847 and 1860
more than 1,000,000 Irish immigrants passed through the port of New York.
Many thousands of them settled in New York City to work as teamsters, day
laborers, streetcar conductors, and shipyard mechanics. Others pushed up the
Hudson and Mohawk Valleys to the brick kilns at Haverstraw, the iron works
and quarries at Saugerties, and the mills and factories in Albany, Troy, and
Utica. The Irish have made the political field largely their own, they have
played a conspicuous part in civil and commercial life. The Irish, with
their genius for politics, have, since the succession of Irish
governors-Dongan, Bellomont, Cornbury, Cosby-in Colonial days, played an
active part in the evolution of our particular brand of democracy.
	The Catholic Church grew rapidly as a result of Irish and German
immigration, which began in the thirties and forties and reached a peak
after the Civil War. St. Joseph's Seminary was established in Troy in 1864
to educate native priests. The diocese of Rochester was organized in 1866,
the diocese of Ogdensburg in 1872, and the diocese of Syracuse in 1886,
Bishop McCloskey, the first bishop of the Albany diocese, became the first
American cardinal in 1875. St. Bernard's Seminary was established in
Rochester and St. Joseph's in Yonkers in 1896.
      Irish immigrants, as they achieved a degree of economic well-being
with accompanying leisure, gave vent to their love of sports and recreation.

          The unleashing of energy and the spurt of industrialization that
followed the Civil War, together with increased immigration, turned Albany
into the path that led to its twentieth-century industrial and commercial
importance. Groups of Irish settled in the city at various periods in the
nineteenth Century.

          The stimulus to manufacture had its effect and Buffalo industry
rapidly. In 1872 there were more than 800 small industries employing 18,000
workers out of a population of 150,000. Irish immigrants swelled the

           The Irish settled in the city after the construction of the Erie

            Irish and German groups of the third, fourth, and fifth
generations constitute more than half of the native population.Since they
have merged with the earlier settlers to produce a typical American
populace, their old country traditions have all but disappeared. The Irish
still celebrate St. Patrick's Day. By 1860 Syracuse had several small
foundries, machine shops, and factories producing agricultural implements,
boots and shoes, furniture, saddlery, hardware, and silverware. The Irish,
who came in large numbers to dig the canal and lay the railroads, remained
to man the new factories.

          During the 1850's Troy surged into national prominas an industrial
center, although it never passed its old rival, Abany, in size. Construction
work on the canals and railroads drew the first contingents of Irish
immigrants, and industries later attracted additional thousands of them.

          A trading center and largest mill town of the Mohawk Valley. There
are approximately 5,000 Irish. After 1825 the Erie Canal brought new
prosperity-new industries and Irish and German Immigrants.

In the 1820's, when the first Erie Canal was being built, engineering skill
was inadequate to the task of controlling river currents, so that it was
necessary to dig an artificial ditch across the State paralleling the
natural water courses. The ditch was dug with pickaxeand shovel; most of the
laborers were Irish immigrants, three of whom could finish three rods of
canal, four feet deep, in five-and-a-half days. Tanned, muscular, they
worked bareback, harassed by mosquitoes that "could drill through boots,"
but the bog-trotting Irish dug through, malaria, mud, and all. The canal
offered "the first great field of Catholic employment and avenue of Catholic
emigration westward; priests followed the faithful into the wilderness,
building altars in the fields and then churches in the towns that sprang up
on the sites.

Source:  New York--A Guide to the Empire State
Publisher:  Oxford University Press--New York
Copyright:  1940
Compiled by the workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects
Administration in the State of New York and sponsored by New York State
Historical Association.

          Researched and Transcribed by Miriam Medina