Irish immigrants faced a punishing arrival in our state, and their forward progress over the years was not much kinder. By the end of the 1800s, Rhode Island Irish had at least progressed from “shanty” Irish to “lace curtain” status in some quarters. Prof. Molloy will discuss the conditions in Providence’s Irish-dominated Fifth Ward (Newport did not have a patent on fifth wards!) and describe the breaking of the barriers for Irish-Catholics to get into Brown University—and who those students were. Learn how a pro-Irish Yankee editor of the Providence Journal treated the Gaels in the 1880s with fairness, and even published the essays and stories of some of the most famous Irish literary figures in the world. That editor’s collection of Irish sources is now one of the most important collections of its kind in the world and is housed at the Providence Public Library. Prof. Molloy will also outline the continued, almost angrier, animosity against the Rhode Island Irish as they finally climbed the ladder of success by the end of the Gilded Age and the beginning of a new century in 1900.
SCOTT MOLLOY is an award-winning professor at the Schmidt Labor Research Center, University of Rhode Island. He previously drove a bus, was a union activist, and was chief of staff to a United States Congresswoman. He earned his doctorate in American History from Providence College. A prolific writer, Molloy wrote, Trolley Wars: Streetcar Workers on the Line (U. of New Hampshire, 2007) and Irish Titan, Irish Toilers: Joseph Banigan and Nineteenth-Century New England Labor (U. Press of New England, 2008), the latter the topic of a past lecture for the Museum. Professor Molloy has a bibliographic essay about the John Gordon case about to be published and was recently inducted into the R.I. Labor History Society Hall of Fame as well as the R.I. Hall of Fame. We welcome him for this, his fourth speaking engagement with the Museum.