It took a long time before St. Louis finally accepted its Irish population. When the first waves of Famine Irish arrived on the landing in the 1840s, the city was appalled by their poverty. As subsequent waves of Irish fled political oppression after the Civil War, anti-Catholic sentiment sparked bloody riots in which the Irish gave as good as they got. But after seven centuries of enslavement in their own country, nothing would stop them from creating a place in their adopted city.
The story of their assimilation is as multifaceted as the Irish character itself. The Irish in St. Louis introduces us to a range of St. Louis Irish, from priests like Timothy Dempsey and Charles Dismas Clark (the “Hoodlum Priest”) to gangstersfrom the Bottoms Gang and Egan’s Rats. We meet artists and revolutionaries, entrepreneurs, and entertainers. It takes us to the rough and tumble neighborhoods of 19th-century Kerry Patch and Dogtown, where immigrants and their children forged paths into the city’s mainstream while preserving their Irish identity.
We visit contemporary Irish St. Louis, where Irish dance and music thrive. At McGurk’s Pub and the Pat Connolly Tavern we discover what makes an Irish pub truly Irish. We also learn the behind-the-scenes story of why St. Louis has two St. Patrick’s Day Parades. Local author and artist Patrick Murphy uses photos and interviews to compile this comprehensive collection dedicated to the Irish immigrants who helped make St. Louis what it is today.
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