ACIS Logo Green Space: The Transformation of the Irish Image

A historical exploration of the Irish image in popular culture

It only took a century or so to segue from phrases like “No Irish Need Apply” to “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” in American popular culture. Indeed, the transformation of the Irish image is a fascinating blend of political, cultural, racial, commercial, and social influences.

The Green Space examines the variety of factors that contributed to remaking the Irish image from downtrodden and despised to universally acclaimed. To understand the forces that molded how people understand “Irish” is to see the matrix—the green space—that facilitated their interaction between the 1890s and 1960s. Marion R. Casey argues that, as “Irish” evolved between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, a visual and rhetorical expanse for representing ethnicity was opened up in the process. The evolution was also transnational; both Ireland and the United States were inextricably linked to how various iterations of “Irish” were deployed over time—whether as a straightforward noun about a specific people with a national identity or a loose, endlessly malleable adjective only tangentially connected to actual ethnic identity.

Featuring a rich assortment of sources and images, The Green Space takes the history of the Irish image in America as a prime example of the ways in which culture and identity can be manufactured, repackaged, and ultimately revolutionized. Understanding the multifaceted influences that shaped perceptions of “Irishness” holds profound relevance for examining similar dynamics within studies of various immigrant and ethnic communities in the US.

Published on: January 9, 2024