Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The New York Irish

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The New York Irish

Article excerpt

The New York Irish. Edited by Ronald H. Bayor and Timothy J. Meagher. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1996. Pp. xxiii, 743. $45.00.) The New York Irish is a welcome and valuable collection of essays organized chronologically rather than topically that discusses aspects of the Irish experience in America's largest city from before Independence to the present. The book is divided into five sections, each containing between three and five essays introduced by an "Overview" written by a distinguished scholar in the field of Irish American history. It is a big book, not only in heft but in import.

Since the book is not organized topically, readers with an interest in religion will have to sift through the essays in order to piece together a coherent picture of the role of the Catholic Church in the lives of NewYork's Irish citizens over time. Nevertheless, in their "Introduction," the editors acknowledge the importance of the Church in the history of the New York Irish. Significantly, they see Irish-America shaping the Church, and not vice versa. This theme is continued in several other essays found in the book.

Religion here is viewed from a sociological rather than a theological vantage point, and mostly from a "bottom-up" rather than a "top-down" perspective. Colleen McDannell's "Going to the Ladies' Fair: Irish Catholics in New York City, 1870-1900," for example, focuses on the often overlooked role of lay women in parish activities. …

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