The Irish in the San Francisco Bay Area, was published on the 60th anniversary of the Irish Literary and Historical Society, reflecting both the history and principles of the Society and its continuing commitment to the sponsorship of Irish and Irish American scholarship. This book, sponsored by the ILHS and edited by Professors Timothy J. O’Keefe and the late Don Jordan, followed an earlier U.S. Bicentennial publication, The San Francisco Irish: 1850-1976

Read New Hibernia review of The Irish in the San Francisco Bay Area


The Irish of the San Francisco Bay Area – Essays on Good Fortune
by Donald Jordan & Timothy J. O’Keefe

The Irish of the San Francisco Bay Area: Essays on Good Fortune, offers a fresh perspective on the history of the Irish in North America. In twenty essays and shorter contributions by recognized scholars—both Irish and American—and Irish Studies experts, its authors describe how the Irish adjusted rapidly and well into the open society they encountered in California and the Far West. This significant reinterpretation of the 19th and 20th century Irish emigrant experience examines women’s history, the performing arts, literature, education, labor, politics, religion, race, diplomacy, and the high-tech revolution, biography and autobiography.

Neither a comprehensive study nor a narrative of the Irish experience in Northern California, the book addresses important aspects of the Irish American story and provides new insights into the role of the Irish community within the multi-ethnic San Francisco Bay area, a setting altogether different from Boston, New York, and the old industrial East.

The 11-page bibliography is the most extensive in existence on the history and culture of the Irish in the West. Contributing editor Timothy J. O’Keefe of Santa Clara University provides a valuable research tool for scholars doing new research on the Irish Diaspora.

The book, published on the 60th anniversary of the Irish Literary and Historical Society, reflects both the history and principles of the Irish Literary & Historical Society and its continuing commitment to the sponsorship of Irish and Irish American scholarship.

Copies of the book can be ordered here for $35, including shipping. Questions? Email or call Eileen Kivlehan at (415) 681-2078.

Table of  Contents & Preface  – download

Introduction  by Timothy J. O’Keefe  download

Part One – Irish Identity in Literature and the Popular Press – download

  • A Literature of Good Fortunes by Matthew L. Jockers
  • Irish Catholic Identity and California Public Life:  Peter Yorke versus C.K. McClatchy 1890-1916 by Stephen M. Avella
  • Vignette: The Irish Literary and Historical Society of San Francisco by Donald Jordan 

Part Two – Ethnicity and Troubled Ethnic Relations download

  • California Clash: Irish and Chinese Labor in San Francisco, 1850-1870 by Daniel J. Meissner
  • St. Peter’s Parish in San Francisco: The Rise and Eclipse of an Irish Parish 1913-1964 by Jeffrey M. Burns
  • Vignette: Michael Casey (1860-1937) by Peter Imperial
  • Vignette: Vivian Moore Hallinan (1910-1999) and Vincent Hallinan (1896-1992) by James P. Walsh 

Part Three – Irish American Culture and Acculturation download

  • Old Age Pipers and New Age Punters: Irish Traditional Music and Musicians in San Francisco, 1850-2000 by Gearóid Ó’hAllmhuráin
  • Women in Irish Dance in San Francisco, 1900-1935 by Lynn Lubamersky
  • Maggie’s Boarding House: Irish-American Assimilation in San Francisco, 1910-1930 by Daniel P. Walsh
  • Vignette: An Irishman Goes to San Francisco by Michael Corrigan 

Part Four – Education and Educators download

  • Pioneers in the Classroom: Irish-American Teachers in San Francisco in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries by Janet Nolan
  • Educating Catholic Young Men – “Principally Irish”: Men’s Catholic Colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area by Timothy J. O’Keefe
  • Vignette: Frank Quinn Remembers: Irish Oral History of the Mission District by Cecilia McDonnell 

Part Five  – San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Ireland download

  • Diplomatic Snapshots: The Irish Consul in San Francisco, 1933-1947 by Dermot Keogh
  • San José-Silicon Valley and Ireland by Tom McEnery
  • Vignette: San Francisco’s Robert Emmet Monument by Timothy J. O’Keefe  

Part Six – Irish-American Identity: Personal Experience and Historical Evaluation download

  • Fragments of Identity, Lost and Found by Kevin Starr
  • The Evolution of the Thesis: The Irish Experience in California was different by James P. Walsh 
    • In Memoriam: Donald J. Jordan, Jr. (1945-2003) by Robert Tracy

Essay Contributors and Bibliography download

Reviews and Comments

The Irish of the San Francisco Bay Area demonstrates the unique aspects of the Irish experience in Northern California, and implicitly argues for similar studies of regions which depart from the urban, Eastern paradigm…” Read full New Hibernia review.

“An impressive collection of essays….thoughtful, well researched….a readable, much needed exploration of the Irish presence in the Bay Area.”Rose Murphy, Review.California History: The Magazine of the California Historical Society, Vol. 84, No. 2, Winter 2006-2007, 80-81.

“[A] highly informative and readable study that poses a number of questions and possibilities.”Lawrence J. McCaffrey, Review. Irish Literary Supplement. Vol. 26, Issue No. 2, Spring 2007, 10.

“The rich collection of works found in [this book] both builds on and contributes to recent scholarship on Irish America that emphasizes the importance of regional context.”John W. Hink, Jr., Review. New Hibernia Review, Vol. 11, No. 4, Winter 2007, 153-155.

“The collection gives the reader far more than the old ‘luck of the Irish’ story; it tells how the San Francisco Irish, given a level playing field, could and did succeed. The sense of the settlement and breakneck growth of the Bay Area: the grasping of chances, the social and religious networks, the people and the politics all come across in full color. Its contributors are professional and local historians, established academics and folklorists and the essays are personal and learned, which adds to the richness of the book.” Comments by David Owens, whose extensive review appears in The Field Day Review, Vol. 3, 2007, 298-303.