This website grew from a University of Cincinnati Honors Program seminar, “The Irish in America,” in coordination with the Archives & Rare Books Library. The focus is on the history and the living heritage of the Irish in Cincinnati and is designed to be a sustainable and informative site that is a collaborative effort between archivists, students, scholars, and the general public.

Category: Film

Balancing of Traditions and the Calendar

By: Lauren Higginbotham

Leap Year is a 2010 film, starring Amy Adams as Anna Brady, and Matthew Goode as Declan O’Callaghan.  Frustrated with her long time boyfriend’s lack of a marriage proposal, Anna decides to travel to Dublin and propose to him on leap day, while he is there at a conference.  She hits a few bumps in the road on her way to Dublin, and ultimately finds a travel partner in a surly Irish innkeeper, named Declan.  By the end of the film, Anna comes to realize Declan is the person she wishes to spend the rest of her life with, as opposed to her long time boyfriend, and the two are married in Cork.

Aside from the cheesy love story and abundance of clichés used throughout the film, the underlying plot centers around an old Irish legend, which allows women to propose to men on leap day.  Supposedly, the tradition began when St. Brigid struck a deal with St. Patrick, in order to balance the traditional roles of men and women, similar to how leap day balances the calendar.  Despite the folklore’s romantic undertone, according to The Huffington Post’s Stephanie Hallet, “The roots of the Irish tradition are dubious…St. Brigid was just 9 or 10 years old when St. Patrick died in 461 A.D…making the pair’s friendship unlikely.”

Regardless of the story’s validity, Americans such as myself, view the film as simply a romantic comedy, capitalizing on the differences between Americans and the Irish.  Throughout the film, Anna continuously comments on Declan’s strong Irish brogue, the relaxed attitudes of those she meets, and the importance placed on a true Catholic marriage.  In turn, Declan is caught off guard by the value Anna places on material objects, her seemingly conceited personality, and low tolerance to alcohol.  On each side of the spectrum, the film focuses on stereotypes typical to each nationality, yet considering the majority of the film occurs in Ireland, it is plausible the Irish may reject the movie for its subpar portrayal of Irish life.  As a whole, the film did not receive rave reviews in the United States, yet Roger Ebert counters this negativity by saying, “When was the last time you saw a boring Irishman in a movie?”


Works Cited

Hallett, Stephanie. “Leap Year Proposal: What’s The Story Behind It?” The Huffington Post., 27 Feb. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.

On the Outside Looking In

By: Jessica Heskett

InAmericaMoviePosterThe Irish filmmaker, Jim Sheridan, directs the 2002 film, In America.  This film tells the story of a family of Irish emigrants who struggle to find their way in New York City after the loss of their young son.  With the help of his two daughters, Jim Sheridan wrote this film based upon their lives.  When Sheridan was 17, his younger brother, Frankie, died from a brain tumor.  As a way for Sheridan to grieve and honor his late brother, the character Frankie is included in the film.  The family’s struggles with poverty and immigration in America are taken from Sheridan’s experiences when he moved his family to New York City in the 1980s.  Sheridan has notable accomplishments in film, writing or directing such movies as My Left Foot, The Field, and In the Name of the Father. Collectively, these films received 13 Academy Award nominations. Continue reading

“The Quiet Man” Impact on Irish Tourism

By: Remy Nering

2_Nering_The Quiet ManThe Quiet Man is a 1950s romantic comedy starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Sean Thornton (Wayne) returns home to Ireland from American to claim right to his childhood home but in the process, he angers a local man, Will Danaher, who wanted the land Thornton purchases for himself. To Danaher’s dismay, Thornton ends up falling in love with his sister, Mary Kate (O’Hara).  With a little scheming by locals, Danaher agrees to permit Thornton and Mary Kate to marry. When the scheme is discovered, Danaher refuses to give Mary Kate her fortune which she deems necessary to be wed to Thornton. The fortune is of no consequence to Thornton, but Mary Kate will not stand to be with him if she does not have it. It’s only after Thornton confronts Danaher about the ridiculous custom of a fortune’s necessity that Danaher hands it over. Thornton then begins a fight with Danaher; the fight takes an intermission for the men to have a drink then ends shortly after with the two agreeing on grounds of mutual respect. Continue reading

Luck of the Irish

By: Sydney Vollmer

Disney_-_The_Luck_of_the_Irish“The luck of the Irish” is a fairly common saying. Most probably think it means the Irish are a people of great luck.  Anyone who knows the history of Ireland and its people will be able to tell you that wasn’t always the case.  In fact, for most of history, the Irish have been a very unlucky people.  When people started immigrating to America, they were met with hatred and stereotypes were quickly formed.  The phrase, “the luck of the Irish” was born out of a stereotype.  Irish who struck gold during the 19th century rush were said to have found the gold by luck, because no one believed an Irishman could succeed through skill or intelligence (Walsh). Continue reading

Who Was the Public Enemy?

By: Gabe Brown

My perception of The Public Enemy is that it is, first and foremost, a fascinating piece of propaganda.  It’s release date, in 1931, put it shortly after the start of the Great Depression and the rise of organized crime powers throughout the nation.  In both its opening and conclusion, the film specifically allies itself with the cause of raising public activism against organized crime.  Irishmen are very obviously associated with gang activity in the film, despite several characters who sport the stereotypical brogue who are on the far opposite end of the spectrum.  The devotion of lead James Cagney’s character (Tom Powers) to his mother (Ma Powers, played by Beryl Mercer) and closest friends is also an extension of the stereotypical Irish character.  That is to say, he is fiercely loyal to her, even to the point of hiding his own questionable deeds from her.  On her part, Ma Powers refuses to see him as anything but her “baby boy” and is happy to accept money from him without questioning its origins. Continue reading

“Philomena” & Irish Catholicism

By: Meredith Anness

Organized religion, I’ve always thought, is mostly good.  It provides a motivation to be a better person, follow a moral compass, and remain a humble servant of something other than oneself.  In particular, Christianity gives its followers the promise of an everlasting life in return for good deeds and faithful following of the omnipotent God.  But what happens when one of the tenants of that religion goes against your own sense of right and wrong?  This was the dilemma I faced watching Philomena, a 2013 movie adapted from the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith, published by Pan Books in 2010.  Starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, it won accolades at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals, and for good reason. This movie opened my eyes to a serious injustice that I believe should be recognized rather than swept under the rug. The suffering that the main character, Philomena, endured in the name of her religion and God is beyond my scope of understanding. But to me, it speaks volumes on the true devotion she had, as well as how her Irish upbringing may have affected the circumstances of her tale. In many ways, she is a typical Irish Catholic woman with an atypical story to tell. Continue reading