From Ohio History Central
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People of Irish heritage were among the earliest white settlers of Ohio. Many migrated from Pennsylvania during the late 1700s and the early 1800s along Zane's Trace. Others came later to help build the numerous canals constructed during the 1820s and 1830s. Many of these people came to Ohio as a direct result of the potato famine in Ireland during the 1840s. Unable to pay mortgages for their land due to the poor potato crop, many of these people hoped to come to the United States to start their lives again. Many arrived with nothing more than a few pieces of clothing.
While most of the Irish immigrants hoped to become farmers, without any money, they took whatever jobs they could receive. These jobs were usually among the least desirable ones in the United States, because of the hard work and the poor wages. Many of these people who came to Ohio first served as laborers on canals like the Ohio and Erie Canal and the Miami and Erie Canal. Once railroads arrived in the state, many of these same workers helped lay the track. Other Ohioans did not always receive the Irish migrants with open arms. Most Ohioans were from Protestant faiths and opposed the Irish, who usually followed Roman Catholicism. Struggling Ohioans also did not like competition from the recently arrived migrants. During the 1850s, many Ohioans joined the new Know-Nothing (American) Party. This political party vehemently opposed new
immigrants�especially the Irish�from coming to the United States. Hatred of the Irish was so deep during this time period that many communities required deceased Irishmen and women be buried in Irish-only cemeteries. Despite their difficulties, many of the Irish migrants succeeded in establishing successful lives in Ohio. They also helped improve Ohio's economic standing by helping the state establish a transportation infrastructure.
While many Irish Ohioans faced discrimination, these same people also commonly opposed the arrival of new groups to the state, especially free African Americans or runaway slaves. Race riots sometimes occurred, especially if whites feared that African Americans were gaining too much power or infringing upon white opportunities. For example, in 1829, one such riot occurred in Cincinnati, because Irish immigrants disliked economic competition from the African-American community. The Irish tried to drive African Americans from Cincinnati, but they were unsuccessful in this effort.
At the start of the twenty-first century, Irish culture and institutions continue to thrive in Ohio. Irish social organizations, such as the Irish American Club-East Side, Inc., and the West Side Irish-American Club both of Cleveland, exist in most of the state's major cities.
[[Category:Early Statehood]][[Category:Industrialization and Urbanization]]