The Irish in America
Just for starters, the Irish did have that famine that drove them from their homeland. Then, just a little mention here, it’s not like the Irish in steerage got into the life boats on the Titanic first, either. Once in America, the Irish were treated with distain and given only the lowest of jobs—say hello to coal mines and hammering spikes in railroads. As a matter of fact, many advertisements for employment in the 1850’s often stated, “Irish need not apply.” The Chicago Post wrote, “The Irish fill our prisons, our poor houses...scratch a convict or a pauper, and the chances are that you tickle the skin of an Irish Catholic.” Well, who said they were politically correct back then? They could deny the Irish decent jobs, demean them because they operated outside the law to feed their families and then the coup de grace, they affronted the religion of the Irish. They have been called Micks and other less savory names. Their reputation for drinking and fighting is no more true than any other ethnic group’s desire to get rowdy but the condemnation of Americans attached this reputation to them as a means to degrade them.
The Irish fought for their dignity and the Catholic church helped them fight for their human rights. They fought back sometimes with the same brutality that others bestowed upon them. Some of you may have heard of the Molly Maguires, an organization of Irish men who fought for living wages and safer working conditions in the coalmines of Pennsylvania.
Finally, the need for Irish labored soared in the early years of the 20th century when industry boomed and the United States moved into an economic power. The Irish won their claim to America society with grit and determination. Yes, America is a melting pot of cultures and humanity but, I have to say, each ethnic group has had to fight its way into that melting pot. Sometimes the scars are so deep, it takes generations to heal them.
For Love of Banjo by Sarah j. McNeal
Western Trail Blazers
In my new release, For Love of Banjo, the hero fights for the right to dignity and justice. He was born in a bordello to an Irish immigrant mother who died in childbirth. Until the age of ten, a woman who worked in the bordello who had lost her family to fire raised him. When she died, Banjo became homeless and found ways to fend for himself in the streets of Hazard until Harmonica Joe and Lola saw his worth. Still, Banjo felt compelled to find the father who abandoned him and his mother. He wanted the right to his personal history and dignity because he wanted to earn the right to ask for Margaret Ann O’Leary’s hand in marriage. He yearned to feel good enough. When he learns that his father may be an industrial magnate in New York City, he is hell bent on finding him.
Here is a little bit from the book just before he leaves for New York to find his father.
In one graceful movement, he dismounted the pinto then stepped to the porch where Maggie stood with unrestrained tears that flowed down her cheeks. Banjo swept her into his arms and kissed her. The kiss wasn’t his brotherly, friendly peck on the cheek. He kissed her with a slow burning need and ran his tongue along the groove of her lips then slipped inside.
He tasted of coffee and mint. Maggie reached up to weave her arms around his neck. She stepped on her tiptoes to better reach him and taste him. Her heart raced and heat rushed hungry waves of yearning into places in her body she never knew existed as she responded to his explorations with her own. If only she could slip into his pocket and follow him wherever he went. She wanted to become the marrow in his bones, to always be a part of him.
Just when she thought he would take her to her room and make love to her as she had asked, the kiss ended. Banjo bent his head his rough cheek rasped against hers. The fragrance of him, a combination of horse, pine and crisp snow, caressed her senses. He slipped his hand into her hair and gently rubbed the tender skin of her neck where her blood pulsed beneath his thumb.
His mouth so close to her ear she felt the warm moisture of his breath as he spoke his last words. She would never forget them, not as long as she lived. Breathless from the kiss, he said, “Don’t forget me. Write to me every day and I’ll write back. You are the star in my sky and my compass home. I’ll come back, if it’s the last thing I do, I will come back. I swear it.”
Monkey Bars :
Available in all online bookstores in e-book or paperback.
Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride
Western Trail Blazers
A Time Travel Western