As some will be aware, I am chiefly researching P.S. Gilmore at present. However, while researching Irish musicians and their contribution to the American Civil War, I started researching another topic slightly related to the poor musicians -- namely, the historic prevalence of "No Irish Need Apply" (NINA) signs. On the subject of "No Irish Need Apply," there is a group of academics who question its very existence.

In response, I did a little survey through the New York Times archives and the Library of Congress newspapers. Such signs seem to have been widespread, and it appears that these attitudes were active in the U.S., Britain, and even Ireland itself. This is not an accurate survey, but rather a random search through both archives. It does, however, indicate that only did "NINA" adverts and attitudes occur, but they were also widespread. I was aware of Irish discrimination specifically, of course, because of Gilmore's experience.

Here is a selection of links which show quite clearly that the "Irish Need Not Apply" sentiment is more than just historical myth:

For those of you who wish to explore this subject further, please view the old Western series, "High Chapparal," on YouTube. The episode is called, "No Irish Need Apply." Where did this come from? Are there other referenes to this topic from Hollywood?

Am I premature in declaring that this attitude existed throughout the U.S. and beyond. Any comments?

Regards, Jarlath

Views: 6074

Tags: Britain, Emigration, United States

Founding Member
Comment by Nollaig 2016 on May 27, 2013 at 6:04pm

Founding Member
Comment by Nollaig 2016 on May 27, 2013 at 6:23pm  Just look at the images of Puck and Punch magazines.  The anti Irish sentiment existed.

Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on May 30, 2013 at 5:55am

Some great finds here, Jarlath.  Thanks a million.

It seems rather apparent that at least SOME measure of this "No Irish Need Apply" attitude and practice existed in reality.  These newspaper excerpts are difficult to deny.  On what evidence have some said this was all a myth??

Comment by Joe Gannon on May 30, 2013 at 10:49am

Jarlath, we had a retired professor, Richard Jensen, visit the forum of our original website back in the early 2000s and discuss this issue. He later wrote an article throwing doubt on the existence of these signs, and indeed on the entire idea that the Irish were discriminated against at all in employment. His article was in the Journal of Social History 36.2 (2002) 405-429.

Comment by Jarlath MacNamara on May 30, 2013 at 5:43pm

Thank you for that Joe . There is no doubt in my mind from looking at the Library of Congress newspaper files quickly that this practice was widespread throughout the country and seems to have been almost accepted practice amongst communities . I have'nt got access here to Patrick Fords Irish World newspaper but I wonder was there commentary in this at some stage . Did anyone have a look at the "High Chapparal " episode on YOU TUBE , and does anyone have any idea as to where it came from or what was its motivation . Was there and Irish influence in editorial etc ?  I posted the link to the words for the poem NO IRISH NEED APPLY however there seems to be another song called "No Irish" written by Kathleen O Neill in 1863 . Its amazing that there was such an anti Irish sentiment when the songs sung throughout the Civil War on both sides had such an Irish Influence . 

Comment by Patricia Burns on June 6, 2013 at 11:32am

The NINA signs appeared on factory buildings in Connecticut  during the Depression in the 1930s.  My father saw them when he was looking for work then.

Comment by Jarlath MacNamara on June 6, 2013 at 1:50pm

Patricia -Was an Anti Irish feeling evident at this stage in many areas of Connecticut or was this confined to an area known for not appreciating the Irish ?. 

Comment by Patricia Burns on June 6, 2013 at 3:02pm

I  can't answer that, and my dad died years ago,  so I can't ask, but Connecticut is part of New England which was very WASP even when I was a child, Boston notwithstanding.

Comment by Neil F. Cosgrove on June 7, 2013 at 5:01pm

Don't forget that there were many variations on No Irish Need Apply. Before the Civil War in New York many want ads would end " any nation or RACE (capitalization is mine) except Irish". The race part is important as in many descriptions of the NY Draft Riots historians talk about the Irish fear that freed blacks would take their jobs. Ads like this show the fear was not unfounded
Comment by Jarlath MacNamara on June 7, 2013 at 5:54pm

Mr Cosgrave  thanks for that . But do you know has ever written a book or done some serious research into the subject . Has Glucksmann House or other institutions done any work or research  on the topic of Irish discrimination through history , the reasons , and how our ancestors lived through it . I can get Patricia's dad out of my head for example him coming home after looking for work and seeing these signs . Must have been so hard on the man and others beside . 


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