View Full Version : The Black Irish

03-20-2004, 07:11 PM
I have recently joined this forum...I was interested in an article about the origins of or the definition of the "Black Irish:. I thought that the term originated in the US and referred to those imigrant Irishman who worked in the coal fields of Ohio and West Virginia. There was no mention of that theory...is this an oversight ?

03-20-2004, 08:20 PM
Where I come from the Black Irish are those with wavy blue-black hair and perfect translucent skin; what one would actually expect a banshee to look like, rather than the incredibly healthy and robust red-haired and freckled kind.

In grammar school I was taught that they were the result of the sailors who survived the wreck of the Spanish Armada washing up on the shores of Ireland. Maybe that would be possible, but mixing Irish and Iberian blood didn't work that way in my family.

I have read, and I am sorry but I do not have a cite, that the Black Irish have strong Celtic blood. It seems to me (again no cite) that the Welsh are also known for that pure white skin.

03-20-2004, 08:26 PM
Other threads that have addressed this are




03-20-2004, 08:34 PM
By the way, gaeilge, welcome to the boards. Is Who are the "Black Irish?" (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a5_077.html) the column to which you're referring. They like you to link to Cecil's column so that we can all read along.

How long ago did you hear about your theory of the coal miners in the US? From where? Who? What country?

03-20-2004, 08:59 PM
Just to add something that I don't think was available to Cecil when he wrote the original column---

The OED now shows the first use of the term in 1888 by Rudyard Kipling. I found the term first used in the US in the 1920's in mid-American newspapers. The Kipling cite would indicate British origin, perhaps, but kinda would put doubt on a US/coal miner origin. IMHO.

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