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The Irish in Illinois

The Irish in Illinois

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Mathieu W. Billings and Sean Farrell


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
270 pages, 6.125 x 9.25, 28 illustrations


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About the Book

The first statewide history of the Irish in the Prairie State
Today over a million people in Illinois claim Irish ancestry and celebrate their love for Ireland. In this concise narrative history, authors Mathieu W. Billings and Sean Farrell bring together both familiar and unheralded stories of the Irish in Illinois, highlighting the critical roles these immigrants and their descendants played in the settlement and the making of the Prairie State. Short biographies and twenty-eight photographs vividly illustrate the significance and diversity of Irish contributions to Illinois.

Billings and Farrell remind us of the countless ways Irish men and women have shaped the history and culture of the state. They fought in the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, the Civil War, and two world wars; built the state’s infrastructure and worked in its factories; taught Illinois children and served the poor. Irish political leaders helped to draw up the state’s first constitution, served in city, county, and state offices, and created a machine that dominated twentieth-century politics in Chicago and the state.

This lively history adds to our understanding of the history of the Irish in the state over the past two hundred fifty years. Illinoisans and Midwesterners celebrating their connections to Ireland will treasure this rich and important account of the state’s history.


Mathieu W. Billings is a faculty associate in the history and political science department at the University of Indianapolis.
Sean Farrell is a professor of history at Northern Illinois University. He is the author of Rituals and Riots: Sectarian Violence and Political Culture in Ulster, 1784–1886 and a coeditor of Shadows of the Gunmen: Violence and Culture in Modern Ireland.