The Irish in the San Francisco Bay Area, Essays on Good Fortune

This book presents original essays on the distinctive experience of Irish American in the American West. It contains twenty essays and shorter contributions by many recognized scholars.


In the front hallway of my home in San Jose, I have a trunk that measures four by five feet.  Although it is empty, it carries the history of my family.  In Ireland in 1898, a young woman in her early twenties packed all of her worldly possessions into that trunk and took a solitary, one-way voyage to a land of myth called California.  Succeeding generations of her family would find many opportunities in the great place of hope.  Yet her journey would never have begun if circumstances had been different; if only my grandmother – and the millions like her – had any reason to stay home and an opportunity to build a life in the land of her birth.

Ninety years after my grandmother left Ireland, I was returning from an international seminar in Italy and had the opportunity to stop in Ireland , where a seminal event was about to take place.  In the sprawling county of Kildare, west of Dublin, Silicon Valley’s Intel Corporation, the world’s largest microchip maker, was having what the locals called a “sod turning”.  This was to be its major European facility, and I had played a small part with the Industrial Development Authority of Ireland (IDA) in Intel’s decision to located in this Celtic outpost on the European fringe.

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