No Snobbishness

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER I (7) start of chapter

The majority of those who now constitute the strength of the Catholic element in Halifax came without funds or friends, some literally without a shilling in their pocket; but with honesty, intelligence, and a determination to work. From the humblest occupations, natural to their first efforts in a strange place, many of the Irish in Halifax have risen to wealth and influence. Industry and good conduct—these their all, their sword and buckler, their wand of magic power. And as they rose in the world they carried with them the respect of the community by whom the successful architect of his own position is justly estimated at a higher value than the fortunate inheritors of the wealth of those who went before them.

It may perhaps be too much to assert that the transplanting of the Irishman from his own soil to a new country and a healthier atmosphere has been of unmixed benefit to him in every sense; but in one respect his improvement is unquestionable—he is above that shamefaced snobbishness which he too often displays at home. It is not every one in the old country who will make the story of his own elevation in life a matter of honest pride. In Halifax—in America—it is different. From several of my countrymen, of different degrees of prosperity and social standing, I have heard the history of their early struggles and ultimate success. Some of these had not the advantage of an early education, and were self-made and self-taught; but they were men of great sagacity and fine natural talent, whom cultivation would have well fitted for the administration of public affairs. One of these gave as his reason for not accepting an office which had been placed at his disposal, his own consciousness of the want of early training, which was unavoidable in his case, owing to the circumstances of Ireland at the time of his leaving it; and yet he dealt with the question of the hour—the proposed Confederation of the British Colonies—with a breadth of thought and a mastery of detail that proved the very fitness which he modestly repudiated.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America