When I was teaching Social Psychology to college students, one of its many sub-topics was the fascinating study of prejudice and discrimination. Prejudices and discriminatory behaviors are almost always learned from parents and other significant adults in a child's life. Very rarely throughout history are progressive and thinking human beings encountered, such as Sarah and Angelina Grimke, who actually learn to think beyond the status quo lived by their parents, their community, and their nation.
Despite growing up on a Carolina plantation in the mid-1800s, the daughters of the "master" whose fine living was at the expense of those brutalized by slavery, Sarah and Angelina became abolitionists and feminists. They used intellect, knowledge and study, and critical thinking to evolve beyond what was "accepted" in American society at that time.
American slaveowners, on the other hand, used Old Testament (also the Torah of Judaism) references, often vague and taken out of context, to justify slavery by "Christians". (How interesting to note that whenever "Christians" choose to do something cruel, exploitative, brutal, violent, etc., they leave behind the New Testament on which Christianity is based, and embrace the "eye for an eye" violence, revenge, war, and cruelty of the Old Testament.) American slaveowners twisted and mocked their religion to embrace the evil their greed had created, and the hypocrisy and corruption of "Christian" society at that time, allowed them to do so even to the point of believing they were entitled to do anything they chose to do in their pursuit of wealth, an attitude still part of daily life among the rich worldwide in the 21st century!! We see the evil consequences everywhere in exploitation, corruption, war for profit, on and on......and the worst hypocrisy of all: overwhelming racism in the United States of America in the 21st century!
No racist nation is a great nation. Ever.
But, I digress.....the Irish are one of the many ethnic groups who were treated with contempt, as well as exploited by, English Protestants. Irish jokes prevail to this day in England. When the Irish began immigrating to the United States, as well as Australia, Canada, England, and Europe, they did not escape the prejudice and discrimination they had faced at the hands of their English masters who had controlled Ireland for centuries with the help of the R. C. Church in Ireland. In fact, American employment advertisements in the 1800s openly stated "No Irish Need Apply".
Historians now speculate that the Labor Movement was probably delayed by decades due to the willingness of Irish workers to work for any wage, no matter how low. It's also now recognized that African-Americans and Irish-Americans did the majority of physical labor building this nation's now neglected bridges, tunnels, highways and roads, railroads, etc.
But what the Irish realized and understood, that in nations where Protestants ruled such as Australia and the United States, they would have to help themselves. So they created Irish cultural socieities and clubs, clubs and groups for women, men, children, old people, got involved in politics (although often in unsavory ways), created networks used by Irish everywhere to find housing and jobs, on and on.
Irish towns grew up in diverse places such as Iowa and Montana where mostly Gaelic was spoken. In fact, one of the most Irish of cities, at least for awhile, was Butte, Montana after 1881. Marcus Daly, born in Ireland, bought the Anaconda Copper Mine in Butte in 1881, developing it into the largest such operation in the world. Supposedly, he hired mostly Gaelic-speaking workers whom he treated well as he never forgot his own humble roots. He built housing for his workers, provided schools and amusements, and created a lovely town of almost 100% Irish.
By the turn of the 20th century, the Irish had risen from starving immigrants fleeing the Great Hunger in Ireland to those who controlled Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Within another decade or two, most of Hollywood's leading stars were Irish-American including James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, Patrick O'Brien, Maureen O'Hara, and later, Grace Kelly,Liam Neeson, etc., to name a few.
The Irish are one of the few groups ever to face severe prejudice and discrimination and overcome it. They prevailed because they helped each other and were always willing to work hard. Do we even notice an Irish name these days? We may comment on a German or Italian or Jewish or Asian name, but do we comment on Gallagher, O'Leary, Finnegan, McLaughlin? Unlikely.
It's heartening to know that prejudice and discrimination can and have been overcome! On a planet filled with religious, ethnic, and racist prejudice and discrimination. not to mention sexism and ageism, at least once, the horrors wrought by prejudice and discrimination have been overcome, and total assimilation has occurred! Hallelujah!