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Did ads for workers really say that?

It’s March 17 here in the United States.

It is, of course, St. Patrick’s Day.

When, according to the memes at least, everybody is Irish…

Except the Scots. They stay Scots.

No arguments there.

So… despite the great popularity of being Irish today,1 we all know it wasn’t always so. Just as one example, we can look to the work Cartoonist Thomas Nash, who drew editorial cartoons for Harper’s Weekly from 1862-1886 and fed the fires of anti-Irish prejudice with a series of cartoons over the years.2

But that one story we all hear…

The one even The Legal Genealogist wondered about…

Were there ever really advertisements that said, flat out, “no Irish need apply”?


Sure were.

ad saying no irish apply

As reported in The New York Times, in the classified of that newspaper alone:

“No Irish need apply” turned up at least 29 times in Times classifieds advertising for jobs, and the sentiment was wider than the frequency of those exact words. A variation, “Irish need not apply,” turned up at least 7 times, and there were other examples, from “No Irishman need apply” to “Irishmen need not apply,” to the simple, brutal “No Irish.”3

Check it for yourself. Try any newspaper website of your choice and search for those words.

There are lots of stories out there that turn out, in the end, not to be true.

This isn’t one of them.

There really were ads saying “no Irish need apply.”

Which may just explain something that needs explaining.

Like why that ancestor became Kinney, instead of McKinney… Or went to school to lose the brogue… Or claimed to be Scots and not Irish…

There are usually reasons why people did what they did when they did it.

Something to remember on St. Patrick’s Day.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “On St. Patrick’s Day…,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 17 Mar 2022).


  1. Sigh… I have a cousin who can’t forgive me for my inability to turn up an Irish ancestor. Scots-Irish, sure. Irish, no.
  2. See, generally, “Thomas Nast Anti-Irish Cartoons,” Catholic Historical Research Center, Archdiocese of Philadelphia ( : accessed 17 Mar 2022).
  3. Mark Bulik, “FIRST GLIMPSE: 1854: No Irish Need Apply,” New York Times, posted 8 Sep 2015 ( : accessed 17 Mar 2022).
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