We Irish are proud of being the great green machine in America with everyone from President Biden on down claiming heritage to that shamrock shore.

But here is an extraordinary opportunity this July 4th to widen the Irish franchise to memorialize far more of the Irish Diaspora and to bring women and the Northern Irish dissenters into the commemoration of 1776 in America.

The Irish are proud of the role our people played in the creation of the United States of America (a phrase now acknowledged as first written by Stephen Moylan from Co Cork, Washington’s aide de camp when seeking a position as Ambassador to Portugal,) but is it not enough to rest on our green laurels - our story is wider and more diverse than that 

The opportunity is there to tell the truth that those Irish men and women are mostly forgotten and so few of their contributions have been acknowledged that it remains an unknown story even though their valor was a foundation stone of the Republic.

Brief portraits of six people follow:

Richard Thomson

Richard Thomson, Secretary to the Second Congressional Congress came to America and started life as an orphan after his father died on the ship over. He was the person who officially informed Washington, his very close friend, that he was president. As, famed historian, Ron Chernow writes: "The legislators had chosen a fine emissary."

Washington said, “It is a peculiar gratification to have received the communication from you.”

He also created the Great Seal of America.

Hercules Mulligan, master spy

Washington dined with the obscure haberdasher the day after Evacuation Day to everyone’s shock. It was only then revealed that the Co Tyrone native had been among his best spies and saved Washington's life twice.

Former CIA Director William Casey called him” America’s greatest ever spy “and proposed a statue to him. A young man called Alexnder Hamilton boarded with him when he first came to New York as is recorded in the musical “Hamilton."

Mary Waters from Dublin

The Florence Nightingale of the Continental Army whose work was so astounding and caring that the army’s chief medical officer Benjamin Rush, the most famous physician in America, announced his intention to write a biography of her which, alas, did not survive.

John Barry from Co Wexford

Founder of the US Navy, a former cabin boy who took passage to America as a second mate when he could find no work at home.

Elizabeth Thompson 

Washington’s housekeeper whom he hired at age 72. To elude the British, Washington moved residence 25 times and Irish woman Elizabeth Thompson was in charge of every fraught move. She became the most familiar face to him outside his family and a person he deeply trusted. Washington became so devoted he offered her to spend her final years with his family at Mount Vernon.

Elizabeth Hutchinson

Elizabeth fled Northern Ireland with her husband and son and settled in the Carolinas but soon after they arrived, her husband was killed by a falling tree. Penniless, pregnant, and a widow, she moved in with a relative who was ill and cared for her for the rest of her life. She became known as a compassionate career. She died of fever while treating afflicted passengers on a ship. Her son, born in America, was future President Andrew Jackson.

*Originally published in July 2022.