US Irish Catholics defended after backlash to social media trend

US Irish Catholics defended after backlash to social media trend

A trend on social media among Catholics in the US with Irish heritage, which was criticised by some online users who took issue with them describing themselves as Irish, has been defended by EPIC (The Irish Emigration Museum).

The TikTok trend involved people uploading videos of themselves starting sentences by saying ‘We’re Irish Catholics’ and describing a personality trait they associate with their religious identity. Some critics levelled the claim that an Irish American can’t declare they act in a certain way because of their ‘Irishness’.

The condemnation was shut down by Dr Catherine Healy, Historian-in-Residence at EPIC who told the Irish Star that the Irish diaspora’s Catholicism gave families a sense of belonging “in a society where they often faced discrimination”.

Dr Healy said: “It is understandable that people of Irish descent still identify with their Catholic roots. Catholics made up the vast majority of Irish emigrants to America in the decade after the Great Famine, and many of them retained a strong allegiance to their faith in the face of nativist hostility.

“Religion gave these families a sense of purpose and belonging in a society where they often faced discrimination. Across the US, Irish communities provided huge sums of money to the building and maintenance of churches. They were arguably the most influential ethnic group in American Catholicism until the early 20th century.”

“Irish-American identity these days might be less focused on religion, but Catholic traditions remain an important cultural touchstone for members of the diaspora,” she said.