Irish Settlers in Vermont

      The small agricultural State of Vermont has been largely known as Yankee in culture, but great contributions were also made by Irish men and women.  The Irish were influential in the development of Vermont and its workforce.   In  1823, the building of the Champlain canal created jobs for the Irish and the French living in Canada.  Since the dominant French Canadian culture was so foreign to them, the Irish quickly moved from Canada, south along Lake Champlain.   Many Irish stopped at Burlington in search of menial jobs.  By 1830, 11% of the 3526 people in Burlington were Irish.  In fact there were so many Irish coming Burlington (all of whom were Catholics), that the Bishop of Boston was forced to appoint a priest there.  The Bishop appointed Rev. Jeremiah O'Callaghan from County Cork, Ireland.  He was the first English-speaking priest in the Green Mountain State.   At the age of fifty, he took on the position.   In 1833, Father O'Callaghan had St. Mary's church built in St. Albans, north of Burlington.
    In the late 1840s there were many Irish men and women who migrated to Vermont in search of work, as well as relief from the Irish Potato Famine.   Most of the Irish settlers who came to Winooski during this period, arrived from the ports of Canada.  Some analysts believe that this was due to the highly expensive tariffs that the United states had put on immigration.  So, the Irish were forced financially to enter Vermont by way of Canada. 
         The Irish Famine(1845- 47) affected Vermont no less than the rest of New England.  The Irish poured in from all directions to the north as well as Boston and New York to the south.   Work is what attracted them; strong backs were needed to build railroads connecting Burlington to Boston.  Muscle was needed to work in the granite quarries of Barre, the slate works in Fair Haven, and the marble quarries in West Rutland and Proctor.   In addition, there were plenty of positions available for eager workers in the hundreds of cotton and woolen mills which had opened in New England since the 1830s.  The Irish population continued to grow.  The mills provided thousands of jobs and allowed hundreds of families the opportunity to acquire land.  The Irish have contributed greatly to Vermont with their sweat and tears, and they were an active force behind the wonderful culture as well.  The Irishmen of yesterday helped pave the way to a better life, for their descendants.