Health regularly, taking tonics and extra vitamins, enjoying

Care Beliefs and Practices in the Irish-American Culture

Immigration of the
Irish helped boast skilled tradesmen and were willing to work any kind of job
for money. Many of the families that came to America in the eighteenth century was
due to fleeing from religious freedom that was happening in Ireland which were
mostly Protestants. During the 1820s and 1830s, a numerous amount of Irish
immigrants were fleeing to America but they were unskilled, Catholic, and
peasant labors. Being Catholic and an Irish immigrant caused problems due to a
Protestant nation that they’ve entered. When the Potato Famine of 1845-1851 in
Ireland struck, the flood of Irish immigrants to America happened. Over 1.7
million Irish immigrated but brought the much needed skilled or semi-skilled
craftsmen lifestyle (Irish Americans).

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The flow of Irish
immigrants was strong throughout the twentieth century until the United States
Congress decided to limit immigration during the 1920s. Throughout the 1960s
and 1980s, there was a significant drop in Irish immigrants but also there was
a spike in undocumented Irish immigrants. The immigrants coming in undocumented
were mainly young, well-educated individuals that stated they preferred to work
illegally in the United States rather than remain unemployed in Ireland. With
the amount of Irish immigrants in the United States, there are “Irish Centers”
such as New York, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco where there are highly
concentrated Irish immigrants in these cities (Irish Americans).



Irish Americans
have strong traditional medical beliefs that still exist to this day. Irish
Americans believe to keep good health and prevent sickness is to wear holy
medals and scapulars, blessing the throat, never going to bed with wet hair,
never sitting in a draft, taking laxatives regularly, taking tonics and extra
vitamins, enjoying bountiful exercise and fresh air, and avoiding physicians
except when seriously ill. Like many ethnic groups, Irish Americans also kept
their teachings about folk medical remedies and traditional treatments (Irish

According to the
article, Irish Herbal Medicine
(2013), the traditional way of medicine for the Irish is herbalism. It states
that there are clay tablets that were discovered that had hundreds of medical
plants and what their uses were. Which can still be seen that Irish Americans
use these remedies to treat their illnesses.


Americans are like other ethnic groups which are effected by old age,
pollution, stress, excessive use of tobacco and alcohol, overly rich diet,
employment and other economic problems, discord in marriage and personal
relationships. Heart-related diseases are the number one cause of deaths for
Irish Americans and surprisingly, they have a above-average rate of mental health
diseases (Irish Americans).

The Irish are
known for their drinking which can obviously be a negative thing. The Irish are
known for their drinking holiday, St. Patrick’s Day which involves a lot of
alcohol. However, alcohol plays a strong role in the Irish Americans social
life. Unfortunately, alcohol can cause illness like heart disease and cause a
high rate of alcoholism (Irish Americans). 


Whether visiting
Ireland or helping an Irish American patient, the Irish are known to being
friendly.            Majority of Irish
Americans speak English and only a few still are able to speak the native
tongue of Gaelic. When meeting an Irish American patient for the first time,
handshake is the appropriate way to handle the greeting (Living in Ireland).

Irish Americans
are known to use stories to relay information and would expect a logical
response to their story. Irish Americans appreciate modesty which could be
beneficial to know in the healthcare system. Understanding that Irish Americans
would appreciate modesty, nurses and doctors might have to approach certain
subjects differently or have a same-sex doctor for the patient to be more
comfortable (A Look at Irish Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette).


to Living in Ireland (2017), Irish
Americans don’t keep track of time well. They tend to be relaxed on time which
can cause issues in the healthcare system. Scheduling appointments in the
healthcare system which focuses on being on time and showing up. Since Irish
Americans don’t seem to keep track of time, this can cause issues for the
doctors and make them more agitated towards their patient. Informing an Irish
American how important it is to be on time to appointments would make them more
conscious about their timeliness.


There’s not much
information on the types of space Irish Americans enjoy, however it was stated
in the article, Irish Americans (2017), that individuals maintain a public
personal space around themselves and that public touching is rare.

Beliefs and Practices

the Irish first came to the United States, they were forced with the decision
to either stay in their faith of Catholicism and be hated, or convert to
Protestantism to fit in and get a job. Whenever the majority of Irish
immigrants came to America, they decided to stick with their roots and remain
faithful to Roman Catholicism. According to Irish
Americans (2017), “Until the mid-twentieth century, the life of Catholic
Irish Americans revolved around their parish”. Being a part of the parish
helped families stay connected in their faith and feel belonged to a community
(Irish Americans). As time goes on, churches and people’s faith start to get
tested. When the Catholic Church decided to make some changes and innovations
to attract more people, it did the opposite. Members of the parish became
unhappy with how services were being held, the clergy showed discontent, and
many Irish Americans began to question doctrines (Irish Americans).

Health Traditions for Maintaining, Protecting, and Restoring Health

Irish American
treatments that are still are painting a sore throat with iodine or soothing it
with lemon and honey, putting a poultice of sugar and bread or soap on boil,
drinking hot whiskey with cloves and honey for coughs or colds, and rubbing
Vicks on the chest or breathing in hot Balsam vapors, which can also be used
for coughs and colds (Irish Americans). However, more modern Irish Americans
have adjusted to the Western medicine and prefer getting the medication from

Current Use of the American Health Care System

When Irish
immigrants came to the United States, they might have had a shock when they
realized they had to pay for their healthcare system. In Ireland, medical
services are provided free of charge by the state to approximately a third of
the population and all others pay minimal charges at public health facilities
(Ireland). However, the practices of the Western medicine is favored by most
Irish Americans due to having a system that tests everything that it gives to
patients. However, the holistic approach of Eastern medicine still survives
throughout cultures and can be seen in the Irish American community (Cultural
Group Guides: European American).

Irish Americans
are still hesitant about going to the doctor without being worried that it can
be fixed on their own remedies or with medicine that they own. There are 50,000
undocumented Irish immigrants that live in the United States. However, these undocumented
Irish immigrants are living in rural areas that don’t have many jobs and aren’t
about to apply for health care. They have to think twice about taking their
child to the emergency room because of their documentation (O’Sullivan, 2017).