The New York Irish Channel
March 17th in New York wouldn’t be the same without at least a glimpse of the annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade which moves slowly up 5th Avenue turning the Big Apple into a Big Green Apple. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg opened the ceremonies with a word about the Irish in New York…that New York now had more Irish-born citizens than Dublin!
Thousands upon thousands of people were dressed in any one or more of the 40 shades of Irish green and the police were out in full force to contain the potentially drunken crowds along the parade route. The police force is well known to be made up of a very high percentage of Irish (Irish-born men made up 11% of America’s policemen in the late 19th-century).
Upon stopping to cross 5th Avenue (no easy task while the parade was in progress), one very non-Irish policeman was grumpily controlling the crowd until I asked him what he had to be so gloomy about on such a gloriously sunny Tuesday afternoon…and then he purposely stepped right into my shot of the “Green People” wearing a broad smile just to prove me wrong.
The Irish began to land in New Orleans about the same time after the famine in Ireland in the 1840s. An area of the city known as the “Irish Channel” near the Garden District is where so many of the immigrant population settled and is today one of the city’s most eclectic and interesting districts. You may recall it becoming famous by way of a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “A Confederacy of Dunces,” written by John Kennedy Toole — a novel which remained unpublished during his lifetime.
Strangely, native New Orleanians speak with a “Yat” accent that strongly resembles “Brooklynese.” The name “Yat,” comes from the common usage if the greeting, “Where y’at?,” meaning “Where you at?,” or in other words, “How are you?” Speakers of the dialect originated in the (now famous) 9th Ward and the Irish Channel. I have always contended that the origins of the accent coincides with the same wave of Irish immigrants who settled in Brooklyn at about the same time, making up almost half of the European-born immigrants in Brooklyn.
is where we are headed, and by the time the plane lands, my “Yat” will be in full form, ready to take on all that awaits us there. It is both a family reunion and conference event. The Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference takes place over the weekend at Tujague’s, the city’s second oldest restaurant, and part of my extended family. And it is there, among the Fleur de Lys, that we will be focusing, not on the Irish, but on the French!