The Irish in Philadelphia: Ten Generations of Urban Experience

By Dennis Clark | Go to book overview

SEVEN
HIBERNIA PHILADELPHIA

In the last third of the nineteenth century, the Philadelphia Irish concluded a compact with the rest of the urban society surrounding them. It was a Victorian compromise. Under it the Irish would largely remain within the institutional framework they had been constructing for themselves. They would avoid any attempt to overthrow or supplant the native Philadelphia institutions that dominated the city. The aristocratic clubs, schools, and elite family business connections that structured the leadership levels of the city's life went on unhindered. The Irish were content to deal with more pragmatic and immediate concerns. There was sufficient latitude within the expanding industrial society to accommodate their enlarging Irish social achievement without disrupting the traditional monuments of Protestant upper-class sway. However severe the continued sufferings of the Irish working class, they could not basically threaten the ascendent capitalist group. Whatever the religious and educational goals of the Irish community, they no longer imperiled public order. The intermittent rampant nationalism focused on the old country and was peripheral to the life of the city even though it was central as a concern to the Irish community. The economic and political roles of the Irish in the city were utilitarian in that they provided a medium for manipulation more than a challenge to the status quo.

As the Victorian period moved toward its ponderous consolidation in the 1870s, the Irish began settling themselves into the city's life in an extensive way that previous conditions had not permitted. They helped build the 1876 Centennial celebration site in Fairmount Park to fete the nation's inde-

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The Irish in Philadelphia: Ten Generations of Urban Experience
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • One a Tradition Grows 3
  • Two the Famine Generation 24
  • Three City Shelter 38
  • Four Working to Live 61
  • Five Church and School 88
  • Six Clans and Causes 106
  • Seven Hibernia Philadelphia 126
  • Eight the Tradition Persists 145
  • Nine the Urban Irishman 165
  • Notes 185
  • NOTE ON SOURCES 237
  • Index 243
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