Where No Irish Need Apply

Image from the Food @ Hunters Hill website.

Hurray for the Irish!

The other day we tossed a scallion to an Irish-owned Employment Agency on 6th Avenue because it posted a sign reading: “No Irish Need Apply.”

Now comes a reminder from William Kenny of East Haven, Conn., who says that this is taken from an old Dean Swift quotation. Swift saw the same sign on a factory — No Irish Need Apply!

So he took out his pencil and under that sign be swiftied: “Who ever wrote this wrote it well, For the same is written on the Gates of Hell!”

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Mar 23, 1932

Image from the Lehman College website.

The New York Sun supplies the following ingenious explanation of the origin of the expression, “No Irish need apply.” “The words for a time were common in advertisements of servants wanted. The story is that Dean Swift and his Irish servant were travelling near Cork and reached that city, then governed by some Englishman. He had fastened a sign on the gates to the effect that Irishmen would not be admitted. The dean passed in, Patrick was left outside. He saw this sign, and presently added this couplet:

“”‘Whoever wrote this, wrote it well,
For the same is written on the gates of hell.’”

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Feb 23, 1896

A girl, presenting herself for a situations, at a house “where no Irish need apply,” in answer to the question where she came from, said: “Shure, couldn’t you persave by me accint that it’s Frinch I am?”

Decatur Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Feb 25, 1869

DURING a recent engagement of Mr. and Mrs. Barney Williams in Philadelphia, a woman, with an infant, attended one of the performances. The baby kept up an incessant cry. At the end of the play, Mr. Williams was called before the curtain. The baby was bawling lustily. Mr. Williams looked around for a moment then said:

“Shure there’s a nurse wanted.”

A roar of laughter followed. When the mirth had subsided, the woman with the infant arose and replied:

“No Irish need apply.”

There was a tremendous burst of applause, amid which the woman, with the musical baby, triumphantly retired.

Decatur Review (Decatur, Illinois) May 25, 1871

New York Daily Times – Mar 25, 1854

The New York Times – May 10, 1859

The Daily Republican -(Illinois) – May 7, 1873

The Ohio Democrat – May 10, 1883

“No Irish Need Apply.”

Editors Morning Herald.

In running my eye over your list of local news items April 1st, my attention was particularly attracted by an advertisement for the respectable and responsible position of “maid of all work” with the qualifying (but not obsolete) phrase “no Irish need apply.” The advertiser did well to add this last phrase, lest all the Irish in the city might apply together, as the position was too good to miss it there would be a rush sure of the “wild Irish.”

I fear the advertisers have outlived their time, as Irish-phobia and Knownothingism are dead and buried so deep as to be past resurrection. I am told the same phrase, “no Irish need apply,” is posted on the doors and gates of the nether world, as well as on some of their facsimiles on terra firma. The occupants of the house referred to must be sleeping, or out of the country, for the last ten or eleven years, as during that time their fell of bigotry toward the Irish was crushed out and Irish have held positions of trust and danger from the time the first gun was fired on Fort Sumpter down to the present date. In conclusion my Irish friends are better off without such anglicised bigots for employers.

Yours, &c,
“IRISH”

Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Apr 2, 1872

“Dennis, my boy,” said a schoolmaster to his Hibernian pupil, “I fear I shall make nothing of you — you’ve no application.”

“An’ sure enough, sir,” said the quick-witted lad, “Isn’t myself that’s always been tould there is no occasion for it? Don’t I seen every day in the newspapers that ‘No Irish need apply,’ at all at all?”

The Fitchburg Sentinel (Fitchburg, Massachusetts) Aug 18, 1883

IT will be noticed that our city government is a regular knownothing concern. The first year of the present administration the Irish and Germans were recognized, in a small way, and even Johnny Bull got a small slice, but the second year every foreign born citizen was bounced. Not only has the promise to “take care” of the men who like a glass of beer been violated, but the men who were largely instrumental in the election of the republican city ticket aer not now recognized in the appointments. No Dutch or Irish need apply, except to shovel on the streets.

Decatur Morning Review (Decatur, Illinois) Jul 15, 1884

“No Irish Need Apply.”

TO THE EXPRESS: — An unknown poetic friend sends me the following stirring poem. It deserves circulation, and will be read with pride by all lovers of distressed Erin — the laurel-twined isle, so ignobly oppressed that station comes not till at treason’s behest:

J.N. GALLAGHER.

Shame on the lips that utter it, shame on the hands that write;
Shame on the page that publishes such slander to the light.
I feel my blood with lightning speed through all my being fly
At the old taunt, forever new –
No Irish need apply!

Are not our hands as stout and strong, our hearts as warm and true
As theirs who fling this mock at us to cheat us of our due?
While ‘neath our feet God’s earth stands firm and ‘bove us hangs his sky,
Where there is honor to be won –
The Irish need apply!

Oh! have not glorious things been done by Irish hearts and hands?
Are not her deeds emplazoned over many seas and lands?
There may be tears on Ireland’s cheek, but still her heart beats high,
And where there’s valor to be shown –
The Irish need apply!

Wherever noble thoughts are nurs’d and noble words are said,
Wherever patient faith endures, where hope itself seems dead,
Wherever wit and genius reign, and heroes tower high,
Wherever manly toil prevails –
The Irish will apply!

Wherever woman’s love is pure as soft, unsullied snow,
Wherever woman’s cheek at tales of injury will glow,
Wherever pitying tears are shed, and breathed is feeling’s sigh,
Wherever kindliness is sought –
The Irish need apply!

If there is aught of tenderness, If there is aught of worth,
If there’s a trace of heaven left upon our sinful earth;
If there are noble, steadfast hearts that uncomplaining die
To tread like them life’s thorny road –
The Irish will apply!

Till on Killarney’s waters blue the soft stars cease to shine,
Till round the parent oak no more the ivy loves to twine.
Till Nephin topples from his place and Shannon’s stream runs dry,
For all that’s great and good and pure –
The Irish will apply!

F.R.H.

San Antonio Daily Express (San Antonio, Texas) Aug 26, 1886

The defeat of John W. Corcoran for lieutenant governor, and the putting aside of Owen A. Galvin as a mayoralty candidate, may be regarded by the Irish-American voters as a notification from the mugwumps that when it comes to offices “no Irish need apply.” — {Boston Traveller.

The Fitchburg Sentinel (Fitchburg, Massachusetts) Nov 14, 1890

Mrs. Noshape — There, you careless creature, you have dropped that beautiful statue of Venus and Broken it all to pieces.

Bridget — Well, mum, you ought to be glad av it. Sized up alongside of Vaynus your figure was at considerable disadvantage.

And no Mrs. Noshape has advertised for a new servant that is respectful and well-behaved. No Irish need apply.

– Texas Siftings.

The Stevens Point Gazette (Stevens Point, Wisconsin) Jun 12, 1895

Image from the Parlor Songs website, and includes an interesting article about the Irish Immigrants and the song.

FAIR ENOUGH By Westbrook Pegler

[excerpt]
Hated Like Present Jew Refugees

The Irish refugees of those days, men and women of the same faith and stock from which Father Coughlin himself has sprung, were hated like the Jewish refugees of the present. Election frauds and immigration frauds were bitterly resented by the native Americans as politicians exploited the greenhorns to thwart native proposals and defeat their tickets at the polls.

The immigrants were untidy, disorderly and troublesome, speaking in general terms. So, even as late as the turn of the century, a music hall song, possibly one of Harrigan and Hart’s, sounded the refrain, “And they were Irish, and they were Irish, and yet they say ‘no Irish need apply’.”

This referred to the virtues of Irish heroes and to the open prejudice against the Irish expressed in the employment ads in American cities.

The bill against the Irish and, of course, the Catholics — for they were almost all Catholic — also accused them of carrying into their new life here their active hatred of a foreign nation with which this country was on friendly terms. It was argued that immigrants who took citizenship here had no right to imperil the life of their new country by activities which might involve the United States in a war with Great Britain.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Feb 25, 1939

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One Response to “Where No Irish Need Apply”

  1. No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs - no facts? - Historum - History Forums Says:

    […] This may interest you. Where No Irish Need Apply | YesterYear Once More […]

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