Falls Road Curfew

The Falls Road Curfew of 1970 severed any future of Catholics having good relationships with the British army. The army sealed off an area of the Lower Falls district while they ransacked the houses, looking for weapons, but leaving much destruction in their wake. This causes about 20,000 people unable to leave their homes in the time, and four deaths by the army, all innocent civilians.

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British Soldier search Houses during the Curfew

This curfew increased tension between the Catholics and Britain since it left many people frightened of the power of the British army. It also increased their desire to rid Ireland of British influence, rooted out of fear of what else the British army would do.

Burntollet Bridge Incident

People’s Democracy organized a peaceful protest from Belfast to Derry, this was called the Long March. This march was delayed many times by mobs of Protestants blocking the way. Many times the police rerouted the march to avoid violence, even though many  times they could have forced the mob to move. When the march was close to Derry, a mob attacked the march on Burntollet Bridge. When the mob attacked, chaos ensued and the marchers were scattered, and tried to run away from the mob. The police were either escorting marchers out of the way, doing nothing, or even helping the attackers. This event was broadcasted all over the world and everyone was outraged at the violence that broke out against peaceful protestors. This incident is seen as the boiling point of the tensions and fueled the events afterward. This event was the boiling point because it was broadcasted everywhere so all eyes were on Northern Ireland afterwards

Employment in Northern Ireland

Discrimination of Catholics by Protestants also occurred in the workplace. One example of this discrimination in the workplace is through the hiring processes. During an interview in the hiring process, many times they asked what school the person went to. If the school had saint in the name, they knew you were Catholic. As a result, the majority of the time they were passed over for being Catholic and going to a Catholic school. Protestants received priority over Catholics when searching for jobs. Many Catholics were placed in poor working conditions. Some of these harsh working conditions included long work hours, and unequal pay. Most of the time, Catholics were not employed in positions of higher power within the workplace, and did not receive promotions.

In the 1960s, an economic recession occurred in Great Britain. This resulted in an increased rivalry for jobs between the Catholics and the Protestants. The loyalists argued that because Northern Ireland had profited from their connections, such as trade with Great Britain, then the jobs should be reserved for those who were loyal to Great Britain. During this recession unemployment was high, and there were many people looking for jobs. Protestants were fearful that the Catholics were taking their jobs away from them, so firms would not hire them because they’d rather give the job a “good” Protestant. Due to many Catholics not having work, many of them were very poor which made them anxious of their lives in this society where the government system set in place blatantly discriminated against them.

Due to jobs given to mostly Protestants, especially government jobs, the Royal Ulster Auxiliary was 90% Protestant which did not help with discrimination of Catholics. In 1922 the Special Powers Act enacted which made it possible for police to arrest people without a warrant, send them to prison without a trial, and unlimited search powers. When tensions ran high this act law made Catholics fearful of what could happen to them. When the civil rights movement started and peaceful marches were breaking out into violence, policeman did very little to help the Catholics from the violence. In many cases they watched and did nothing. Bernadette Devlin watched a policeman look on as four Protestants and beat a protester in the incident of Burntollet Bridge. The Catholics knew that they had no government system in place to help them.

Housing in Northern Ireland

A housing crisis was prevalent during this time, due to housing shortage and an unequal distribution of houses. The government started building new houses and giving them to civilians in need. Local councils were in charge of distributing these houses, but because these councils were Protestant controlled, the councils would only give these new houses to other Protestant people. This occurrence was especially bad in Derry, even though Derry was majority Catholic. One example of this is when a whole Catholic family was need of a house, but it instead was given to a single Protestant woman. This was a prevent issue when the civil rights movement began. Some actions taken by the protesters were squatting in houses that were given to Protestants, so the new people would not be able to move in.

A reason why this occurred was due to the government system set in place, the only people who could vote were people who owned land, thus this was another reason why Catholics were discriminated in during the housing crisis. If the councils gave houses to Catholics, more Catholics would be able to vote and maybe become the majority in such places as Derry.

Housing given to Protestants over Catholics was not a mistake, Protestants were very afraid of Catholics and were cautious of what they would do if they would be able to have a say in the government. This housing situation then in turn made the Catholics fearful of their situation in the society. They were living in terrible conditions and the government  system set in place was doing nothing to help them. This made them anxious of their future in Northern Ireland. Catholics were also anxious about how they would never have a vote in the government that controlled their lives because they would not be allowed to own property.

Schooling in Northern Ireland

Even before The Troubles “officially” began, there was a deep segregation in the schooling of children. When the Republic of Ireland formed, both churches refused to give up their own holds on their school systems, resulting in separate Catholic and Protestant schools. This can be attributed as a cause of The Troubles. Since 90% of the children in Northern Ireland grew up without ever talking or associating with people of the opposite religion, this could increase the hatred and uncertainty between the two groups of people. This is echoes of tradition established as far back as the late 1600s, when laws restricted Catholics from being educated in Ireland. This created a tradition of churches controlling schools which led to separation.

Segregation of schools causes children from a young age to be fearful of people from the other religion. By not allowing them to interact with the other group of people, in this case Ireland, the mystery and wonder that comes along with this typically will translate into negative views of the that group. Normally this causes anxiety because we fear the unknown. When looking at school desegregation round the world, there is proof that once the schools began desegregating, this anxiety lessened and lessened because in the minds of school kids, they are simply other children to play with. If we never allow this to happen, they will always think that the other group is bad.

Policing in Northern Ireland

Police blocking approved path of the Long March civil rights protest.

The Special Powers Act enacted in 1922 gave police much power over citizens, which caused great  fear in the Catholic community because the Royal Ulster Constabulary was 90% Protestant. Due to jobs jobs given to mostly Protestants, especially government jobs, the police was majority Protestants. When tensions ran high this act law made Catholics fearful of what could happen to them because this act gave them power to arrest someone and send them to prison without trial. When the civil rights movement started and peaceful marches were breaking out into violence, policeman did very little to protect  the Catholics from the violence. In many cases they watched and did nothing. Bernadette Devlin watched a policeman look on as four Protestants and beat a protester during the incident at Burntollet Bridge. The Catholics knew that they had no government system in place to help them.



Catholicism was a major force in Irish culture and subsequently Irish-American culture. Some aspects of Catholicism that are particularly relevant to the formation of Irish-American identity are:

The emphasis on the family, which was considered the “social and moral

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral NYC

center of the community” (McKenzie). The family was the patriarchal family structure in which the father is at the top of the hierarchy within the family (McKenzie). This results in women be made subservient to men as well. Children were also viewed as the primary purpose and goal of marriage, so using birth control is not allowed (McKenzie).

The ban on homosexuality, within Catholicism, homosexuality was considered an “objective disorder” and that homosexual behavior was “sinful” (McKenzie). This led to the Catholic church opposing same-sex marriage (McKenzie). In addition to that as previously mentioned in Catholicism, the purpose of the family structure was to produce children so any sexual practice that would not result in children and was considered outside the norm was frowned upon, and homosexuality fits into that category.


Works Cited

McKenzie, John L, Martin E. Marty and Others. “Roman Catholicism.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Last updated December 11, 2018. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Roman-Catholicism.

Picture Source

“Saint Patrick Front1.” Wikimedia Commons. Last updated December 9, 2011. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saint_Patrick_front1.jpg

Patriarchal Figures

In this scene, patriarchy is highlighted as the 1974 South Boston Bus Boycotts were taking place (Delmont 2). In this clip, Frank Costello, a mob-boss played by Jack Nicholson, is talking about the diversity that is flooding into Boston.

As one of his roles as a patriarch is to run an ethnically homosocial group, he is angry with different groups coming into South Boston, hence his language.

The very end of the clip also displays patriarchy, as Costello walks into a small, locally owned convenience store and is immediately handed money from the owner of the store. As soon as Costello walks in, the store owner stops what he is doing and heads right over to the cashier, knowing what will happen if he doesn’t pay Costello.

This scene gives credence to one of the main roles of a patriarch, punishment or pain. As the store owner doesn’t want to face the consequences of not paying – and his facial expression says it all – he gives the money right over.



Works Cited

Delmont, Matthew. “The Lasting Legacy of the Boston Busing Crisis.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 29 Mar. 2016, www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/the-boston-busing-crisis-was-never-intended-to-work/474264/.

“Youtube – The Departed Opening (HD) – Jack Nicholson Monologue.” Youtube. Web 10 Dec. 2018 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5AuLTra3t8.

Irish Immigrants to America

Irish people have been immigrating to America since the colonial period (Hershkowitz 11). However, most of these immigrants were Protestant, from the Northern parts of Ireland and were primarily wealthier merchant individuals (Hershkowitz 11: Moss 126). Because of this, these Irish immigrants had no problem assimilating into the greater American society (Moss 126).

During the early 1820s through the early 1830s, there was an increase in Irish immigration and it continued to increase throughout the 1830s and 1840s because of the Irish Potato Famine (Anbinder 117, 125). These Irish immigrants were primarily from the South and West of Ireland and were Catholic causing Irish Catholics to outnumber Irish Protestants in America (Anbinder 125).  Due to their Catholicism and their lower class, these Irish immigrants were unable to assimilate as the previous ones had, and thus were subjected to discrimination, since they were viewed negatively by American society.

The discrimination was why it became necessary for people to attempt to create a cohesive Irish-American identity through the formation of gangs and cultural events like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.


Works Cited

Anbinder, Tyler. City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York. Boston: Mariner Books Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.

Hershowitz, Leo. “Overview: The Irish and the Emerging City: Settling to 1844.” In The New York Irish. Edited by Ronald H. Bayor and Timothy J. Meagher. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996: 11-34.

Moss, Kenneth. “St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations and the Formation of Irish-American Identity, 1845-1875.” Journal of Social History 29, no. 1 (Autumn 1995): 125-148.

Picture Source

Laird, Rachel. “Irish Immigrants Lives Laid Out at New York Tenement Museum.” IrishCentral. Last updated June 25, 2018. https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/irish-immigrants-new-york-tenement-museum

Website Map

If you are unsure of how to navigate this site, here are some ideas to get you started.

  • If you are interested in background information about Irish immigration go to the Immigration to America page.
  • If you are interested in some of the more theoretical aspects of Irish-American identity go to the Authenticity page.
  • If you are interested in examples of things that contributed to the formation of Irish-American identity go to the Gangs or the St. Patrick’s Day page.
  • If you are interested in one of the primary aspects of Irish-American identity, check out the Patriarchy page.

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