No such thing as "No Irish Need Apply" signs argues history professor
“A myth of victimization” he claims as no “No Irish Need Apply” signs were ever found
In 1862 or 1863 at the latest John Poole wrote the basic NINA song that became immensely popular within a matter of months.
NO IRISH NEED APPLY.
Written by JOHN F. POOLE, and sung, with immense success, by the great Comic-Vocalist of the age, TONY PASTOR.
I'm a dacint boy, just landed from the town of Ballyfad;
I want a situation: yis, I want it mighty bad.
I saw a place advartised. It's the thing for me, says I;
But the dirty spalpeen ended with: No Irish need apply.
Whoo! says I; but that's an insult—though to get the place I'll try.
So, I wint to see the blaggar with: No Irish need apply.
I started off to find the house, I got it mighty soon;
There I found the ould chap saited: he was reading the TRIBUNE.
I tould him what I came for, whin he in a rage did fly:
No! says he, you are a Paddy, and no Irish need apply!
Thin I felt my dandher rising, and I'd like to black his eye—
To tell an Irish Gintleman: No Irish need apply!
I couldn't stand it longer: so, a hoult of him I took,
And I gave him such a welting as he'd get at Donnybrook.
He hollered: Millia murther! and to get away did try,
And swore he'd never write again: No Irish need apply.
He made a big apology; I bid him thin good-bye,
Saying: Whin next you want a bating, add: No Irish need apply! [End Page 408]
Sure, I've heard that in America it always is the plan
That an Irishman is just as good as any other man;
A home and hospitality they never will deny
The stranger here, or ever say: No Irish need apply.
But some black sheep are in the flock: a dirty lot, say I;
A dacint man will never write: No Irish need apply!
Sure, Paddy's heart is in his hand, as all the world does know,
His praties and his whiskey he will share with friend or foe;
His door is always open to the stranger passing by;
He never thinks of saying: None but Irish may apply.
And, in Columbia's history, his name is ranking high;
Thin, the Divil take the knaves that write: No Irish need apply!
Ould Ireland on the battle-field a lasting fame has made;
We all have heard of Meagher's men, and Corcoran's brigade. 2
Though fools may flout and bigots rave, and fanatics may cry,
Yet when they want good fighting-men, the Irish may apply,
And when for freedom and the right they raise the battle-cry,
Then the Rebel ranks begin to think: No Irish need apply
After a few rounds of singing and drinking, you could easily read the sign. Note that in the New York City version, Poole changed the London maid to a newly arrived country boy; the maid lamented, but the lad fights back vigorously. This is a song to encourage bullies. The lad starts his job search by scanning the want ads in the city's leading Republican newspaper, the New York Tribune, which seems an unlikely resource for a new arrival from a remote village. In the draft riots of 1863 the Tribune was a special target of Irish mobs.
Did the Irish feel discriminated against before the NINA slogan became current? First note the last stanza of the 1862 London song shown above. If the NINA slogan had been current in America surely the songwriter would not have included the line "you will not deny, A place in your hearts for Kathleen, where 'All Irish may apply."' The second evidence comes from the Confederacy in 1863. The Rebels hailed and incited Irish unrest in the North. A major editorial in the Richmond Enquirer May 29, 1863 enumerated multiple reasons for the Irish to hate the Yankees, such as convent attacks and church burnings. The catalog of grievances focused on anti-Catholicism and did not mention job discrimination or NINA—probably because the Poole song had not yet reached Richmond. 25
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