“With St. Patrick’s Day and Spring right around the corner, I find myself thinking about a few things in no particular order: my Irish ancestry, beer, and cookouts. Syracuse is home to one of the country’s richest Irish heritage communities… The Irish tradition here stretches back more than two centuries, as Irish immigrants were one of the first groups to settle this area in large numbers.”
So writes Robert Searing, Curator of history, Onondaga Historical Association in this article published by Syracruse.com.
The Irish came first to work in the burgeoning salt industry, he writes. Irish immigration to the country and the region exploded after the Great Potato Famine, which ravaged Ireland from 1845 to 1852. By the time of the Civil War, the Irish community was, along with the German, the largest demographic group in the city.
“Now, all this talk of Irish immigrants, potatoes, and salt provides this historian with a perfectly delicious convergence,” Searing writes. “Without knowing it, the men that worked in the mighty Onondaga Salt Works provided us, their posterity, with a simple and sublime souvenir of their time and their toil: the salt potato.”