Irish culture area
Long under English domination, the Irish have always left their homeland, in numbers large and small, to find fortune elsewhere. Irish families settled in small groups in many area of Texas but made up the greatest percentage of the San Patricio and Refugio colonial populations before the Texas Revolution. Here, McMullen and McGloin as well as Power and Hewetson in 1828 were allowed to set up colonial areas north and west of modern Corpus Christi and bring in Irish families. Rumor, and some fact, attest that the Catholic Irish were seen by the Mexican government as good, loyal buffer colonies between themselves and the troublesome Anglos. Even so, many Irish were members of Stephen F. Austin’s colony to the east, and after the start of the revolution, the Mexican army became well aware on which side the Irish stood. The Irish colonist near present Corpus Christi lived in one of the lines of march for the Mexican army. So, in today’s terms, the Irish became excellent guerrilla soldiers.
Even their music was revolutionary. At San Jacinto to fifers and a drummer played “Will You Come to the Bower.” The music is a British army tune, and the words are an Irish love song by Sir Thomas Moore, whose Irish Melodies were popular in Europe, particularly among Irish nationalists. The lyrics, by today’s standards and unlike may Irish love lyrics, are only mildly suggestive. Some verses later were printed in Texas schoolbooks.
Texas Irish, during the revolution, did not spend all their time singing. Some 25 Irishmen signed the early Goliad Declaration of Independence, 11 died at the Alamo, 14 were with Fannin at Goliad, and about 100 fought at San Jacinto – a seventh of Sam Houston’s army. Texas became a defended home. In the next 50 years, Ireland was wracked by economic oppression and famine. The old country send many settlers to Texas.
Some of the newcomers’ work was stereotypical. The later 19th century Irish, arriving in substantial numbers after other established groups – as well as being Catholic, strange talkers, and considered “dumb” in the prejudice of the day – received the worst jobs: day labor. In Texas Irish crews worked east to west o the Southern Pacific railway. This route, the second transcontinental link in the U. S. was finished near Langtry. Even the railroad handcar, the velocipede car, became the “Irish Mail.”
The Irish, in fact, entered most lines of work. Today, more than a half million Texans identify themselves as Irish – direct descendants or recent arrivals. A number of Irish fraternal and social organizations exist in Texas, including the Irish Cultural Society of San Antonio; the Harp and Shamrock Society of Texas, a division of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians; and a chapter of the Friendly Sons and Daughters of St. Patrick.