The Irish Faith

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XVIII (2) start of chapter

It has been confidently stated that the moment the Irish touch the free soil of America they lose the old faith—that there is something in the very nature of Republican institutions fatal to the Church of Rome. Admitting, as a fact which cannot he denied, and which Catholics are themselves the first to proclaim, that there have been some, even considerable, falling off from the Church, and no little indifferentism, it must be acknowledged that there has been less of both than, from the circumstances of the country, might have been reasonably expected; and that the same Irish, whose alleged defection en masse has been the theme of ungenerous triumph to those whose 'wish was father to the thought,' have done more to develop the Church, and extend her dominion throughout the wide continent of North America, than even the most devoted of the children of any other of the various races who, with them, are merged in the great American nation. This much may be freely conceded to them, even by those who are most sensitively and justly proud of what their own nationality has done to promote the glory of the Universal Church. Fortified by suffering and trial at home, and inheritors of memories which intensify devotion rather than weaken fidelity, the Irish brought with them a strong faith, the power to resist as well as the courage to persevere, and that generosity of spirit which has ever prompted mankind to make large sacrifices for the promotion of their religious belief.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America