Who said "It's better to be Irish in America than it is to be Irish in England"?
September 3, 2011 6:10 PM   Subscribe

Hi Folks, Does anyone know who may have said (something along the lines of) "Being Irish in England is a bit of a disadvantage. But, in America it is a bit of an advantage."?

Unfortunately, the only other information I have to go on is that the person who said it in an Irish National who became the head of a major American (or American subsidiary) company in the past 20 years or so. It was suggested that the person was Tony O'Reilly, head of Heinz at some point, but I have not been able to confirm that.

Anyone have any ideas?

posted by coollibrarian to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hmm, could it be from Hugh Heinrick's A Survey of Irish in England from 1872? I didn't see a quote with those exact words, but there are a few sentences that pretty much say that. Here's the Google Books result with the search term "America" highlighted. Look at page 1 in this result list.

Here's one relevant snippet: "In the United States of America we have an Irish nation more powerful than that which exists in the cradle of our race." A sentence or two later he contrasts that with England.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:34 PM on September 3, 2011

Oops, I posted that before I read the inside info. So it's much more recent than I thought...

Could it be from this 1998 PBS documentary "The Irish in America"? Stories are told by famous Irish-Americans, including Roy Disney.

Here's a list of some famous Irish-American business people.

And here's the Irish American Museum of DC website in case that helps.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:46 PM on September 3, 2011

Can't help much with the quote, but as an American living in London in the late 1980s and hanging around with a bunch of Irish, this was a pretty common theme that was oft repeated.
posted by HeyAllie at 9:18 PM on September 3, 2011

I have to say now in the naughties being Irish in the UK is a distinct advantage....YMMV
posted by Wilder at 10:09 AM on September 4, 2011

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