“No Irish Need Apply”

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The Basics

Time Required

1-2 class periods

Subject Areas


Language Arts

Development of the Industrial U.S., 1870-1900

Common Core Standards Addressed:

Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12


Mark Dillon (2006)

The Lesson


This lesson will address North Carolina standards for Intermediate Low/ Intermediate High ESL as well as English I standards 2.01, 3.01, 3.02, 5.01, 5.02.  Once again, the lesson is directly tied to the ESL level III curriculum but can be easily modified to be used in the English I classroom.  This lesson will be used in the investigation of fact versus opinion. This lesson is also designed to have a public presentation component as ESL students often lack the opportunity to practice spoken English. It is also designed to build on the previously lesson idea that immigration has a long history in the United States as well as the rest of the world.  Students will use the Immigrants: The Living Mosaic of People, Culture, and Hope website as source material for investigation.

Guiding Questions

Are all immigrants to the United States only from one country? What are some of the countries that you can think of where immigrants came from?

What were some of the similar experiences that immigrants we’ve looked at have shared?

How long has immigration been happening in the Americas?

What is an opinion? What is the opposite of an opinion?

What is an editorial cartoon and where would you find it?

Preparation Instructions

Song used in this lesson

“No Irish Need Apply”

Lesson Activities

Using the Immigrants website and technology lab (see “Resources” below), divide students into 8 groups. Each group will be responsible for reporting on one immigrant group.  If in an ESL class divide students so that students with stronger language skills are with weaker students and if in inclusion English classroom try to have at least one native speaker in each group.  Assign one of each immigrant groups to a group of students.  Students should investigate the immigrant group and write a 1-2 paragraph description of the immigrant group.  The paragraph should consider the following questions. 

What were the years that this immigrant group primarily immigrated?

What was the push / pull factor that caused this group to come to the United States in such great numbers?

How was this group’s immigration experience similar / different from current immigration trends?

How was this group of immigrants greeted by the United States?

After investigation and writing, the small group of students should orally present their findings to the class as a whole. On a white board or similar media draw out the similarities and the differences? See if the class as a whole can find what is fairly universal about immigration and what is variable. Once again the focus of this lesson is on how immigration has a long history in the United States. 

The second activity tied directly to this activity would be to investigate stereotypes of immigration using primary resources including political cartoons, sheet music covers, music, and other examples of racial stereotyping.  How are opinions portrayed through historical documents, particularly editorial documents? Students can either investigate using predefined web-links, or teacher can lead student through recommended web-links. Links for historical material containing editorials and examples of racial stereotyping are available in the listed resource materials.


The young adult novel Esperanza Rising is an ideal tie into this lesson as well as lesson three.  This book discusses immigrant stereotyping of not only immigrants but also migrants moving within the United States, a factor that many students don’t take into account.


The song “No Irish Need Apply” shows the racial stereotyping that was applied to the Irish during the mid to late 1800’s.  An appropriate exercise would be to have the students listen to the song and document what they are hearing. How are the Irish portrayed in the song?  How does the Irishman react to the stereotyping?                          

This would be an opportunity to have students write about contemporary racial stereotyping.  What kind of stereotyping do we see in modern media? Find a modern editorial cartoon and reflect on how immigration is presented now.


Students may present their two-paragraph summary of selected immigration groups.  Students should make sure that they answer the questions listed above.


Completion of paragraph from the lesson. 


Song Lyrics

“No Irish Need Apply”

I'm a decent boy just landed from the town of Ballyfad
I want a situation, yes, and wants it very bad
I seen employment advertised - "It's just the thing," says I
But the dirty spalpeen ended with 'No Irish Need Apply'

"Woah," says I, "but thats an insult, though to get the place I'll try"
So I went to see the blaggard with his 'No Irish Need Apply'
Some may think it a misfortune to be christened Pat or Dan
But to me it is an honor to be born an Irishman

Well I started out to find the house, I got it mighty soon
There I found the old chap seated, he was reading the Tribune
I told him what I came for, when he in a rage did fly
"No!" he says, "you are a Paddy, and no Irish need apply"

Well I gets my dander risin', I'd like to black his eye
To tell an Irish gentleman, 'No Irish Need Apply'
Some may think it a misfortune to be christened Pat or Dan
But to me it is an honor to be born an Irishman

Well I couldn’t stand it longer, so ahold of him I took
And I gave him such a whelping as he'd get at Donnybrook
He hollered "Milia murther," and to get away did try
And swore he'd never write again 'No Irish Need Apply'

Well he makes a big apology, I bid him then good-bye
Saying "when next you want a beating, write 'No Irish Need Apply'"
Some may think it a misfortune to be christened Pat or Dan
But to me it is an honor to be born an Irishman

Other Sources

Immigrants: The Living Mosaic of People, Culture, and Hope - http://library.thinkquest.org/20619/index.html

Recording: “No Irish Need Apply” - Pete Seeger. American Favorite Ballads Vol. 3. Rec. 1 July 2004.

Available on Itunes

The Chinese in California 1850 –1925 – website


Vintage Immigration Cartoons – website http://www.cartoonstock.com/vintage/directory/i/immigration.asp

Teaching Diversity with Multimedia – website


Ryan, Pam M. Esperanza Rising. 4th ed. (New York: Scholastic, 2000)




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