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Pre-Famine Irish in Vermont

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10/12/2004

As part of his research on the Vermont Irish, Vincent Feeney has investigated the surprisingly large numbers of Irishmen who found their way to the Green Mountains in the years prior to 1840. In this seminar he reports on what he has discovered about early Irish proprietors like Crean Brush, Matthew Lyon, and John Kelly, and on the interesting figure of Bethel's Michael Flynn. Flynn's story raises interesting questions about assimilation and ethnic identity in eighteenth-century America. Feeney also relates his findings concerning Vermont's oldest Irish community - Fairfield. Irishmen coming into Vermont via Quebec first settled in Fairfield in the 1820s, and through letters home, encouraged others to follow. By the late 1830s, Fairfield had a large, well established Irish community. At the same time, Burlington and Underhill witnessed a large influx of Irishmen. By the time of the Great Famine, there was already a significant Irish presence in Vermont.

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