Appropriately, March 17, Saint Patrick’s Day, is set in the middle of “Irish-American Heritage Month.” Forty-four million Americans proudly share their Irish ancestry, especially in celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with parades, family gatherings, masses, dances, etc. Click here to learn more about The American Foundation for Irish Heritage which has been established to honor the glorious contributions that the Irish in America have made to the growth and development of the United States of America.
In the 2013 Proclamation designating March as Irish-American Heritage Month, President Obama mentioned that “Generations of Irish left the land of their forebears to cast their fortunes with a young Republic.” He spoke of the tenacity of the Irish who came to America and what the nation learned from them: “In time, what it meant to be Irish helped define what it means to be American. And as they did their part to make this country stronger, Irish Americans shared in its success, retaining the best of their heritage and passing it down to their children.”
President Obama concludes the Proclamation by stating, “So as we celebrate Irish-American Heritage Month, let us retell those stories of sweat and striving. And as two nations united by people and principle, may America and Ireland always continue to move forward together in common purpose.”
Without question, Irish-Americans have made notable contributions to the nation in numerous ways. One of their significant influences occurred serendipitously with the origins of tap-dancing which is said to be derived from African Americans imitating Irish immigrants doing the Irish jig which is one of the hallmarks of ethnic dance.
Click here to read more about Irish American Heritage Month with videos showing the influence of the Irish jig on African American tap dancing.
One video shows the influence of Irish folk dancing in an excerpt from Riverdance, the musical production featuring Irish step dance infused with Russian, folk, tap and Spanish dance.
Also take a look at the amazing legendary Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in a remarkable display of tap-dancing talent, along with Shirley Temple in “The Little Colonel” filmed in 1935.
In a display of Irish humor, “Lots O’Blarney—Happy St. Patrick’s Day” asked this question:
Q. How did the Irish Jig get started?
A. Too much to drink and not enough restrooms!
Indeed, the Irish have contributed much to richness of America, as a fascinating display of a diverse cultural mosaic.