A Parade of Books for Irish-American Heritage Month

While there were many a St. Patrick’s Day celebration this past weekend, few can ever match the annual New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade up Fifth Avenue. Now in its 257th year, the parade features an estimated 100,000 marchers and two million spectators, and has for decades been traditionally reviewed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York on the steps of the architectural masterpiece that is St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

It wasn’t always so.

The streets of SoHo were in fact the original route in the early years of the parade, and marchers stopped at the steps of the first St. Patrick’s cathedral, now called the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral. This all changed with the dynamic leadership of Archbishop John Joseph Hughes, who, among many things, founded the construction of the current St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Street.


Archbishop John Hughes’s galvanizing work in the creation of the Cathedral as well as St. John’s College (now Fordham University), and his controversial political battles on behalf of Irish-Americans and Roman Catholics are the subjects of the riveting new biography, Dagger John: Archbishop John Hughes and the Making of Irish America. Written by Pulitzer-nominated author John Loughery, the new book has been praised by the New York Times which stated, “Loughery prodigiously profiles the most transformative archbishop of them all…He has written a comprehensive, insightful and robust biography of a transcendent but neglected figure.”

The Irish Times also praised the book, calling it “a fascinating glimpse of the world of Irish America in the 19th century,” and America magazine applauded Loughery for telling the story of John Hughes “with verve and just enough detail to keep the reader moving eagerly forward to the next chapter.” The popular history podcast Backstory also just interviewed John Loughery, and we encourage you to listen to it here.

Discover more about the rich legacy of Irish-Americans in our additional books below.

On the Irish Waterfront by James T. Fisher
This book provides a remarkable and engaging historical backstory to Elia Kazan’s classic 1954 film On the Waterfront. The central protagonist in the story is John M. “Pete” Corridan whose courageous and selfless actions were the inspiration for the film’s character “Father Pete Barry.”

Becoming American under Fire by Christian G. Samito
The experiences of Irish Americans during the Civil War helped bring about recognition of their full citizenship through naturalization and also caused the United States to pressure Britain to abandon its centuries-old policy of refusing to recognize the naturalization of British subjects abroad.

A Union Forever by David Sim
Focuses on how Irish nationalists and their American sympathizers attempted to convince legislators and statesmen to use the burgeoning global influence of the United States to achieve Irish independence.

United Irishmen, United States by David S. Wilson
Among the thousands of political refugees who flooded into the United States during the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, none had a greater impact on the early republic than the United Irishmen. They were, according to one Federalist, “the most God-provoking Democrats on this side of Hell.” This lively book is the first to focus specifically on their experiences, attitudes, and ideas.

The Orange Riots by Michael A. Gordon
Examines the causes and consequences of the tragic and bloody “Orange Riots” that rocked New York City in 1870 and 1871. The violence of 1870 left eight people dead; the following year, more than sixty died.

Jonathan Hall is our Digital Marketing Manager. March 17th is a special day for him as he celebrates both his son’s birthday as well as St. Patrick’s Day.

A Parade of Books for Irish-American Heritage Month