Understanding the Truth Behind the Irish Community at Hagley Museum

Plus: The Delaware Home Show, The Hit Men at The Grand and more.

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More than 2,000 Irish immigrants moved to northern Delaware between 1802 and 1902. Many found work in the black powder yards at what is now Hagley Museum and Library. Learn more about their experiences at Hagley’s Author Talk, “Black Powder, White Lace: The Irish Community at Hagley,” by Margaret Mulrooney on March 27 at 7 p.m. in Hagley’s Soda House auditorium. Admission is free. Mulrooney will tell the story of the Irish immigrants and their descendants who lived and worked along the banks of the Brandywine Creek, many employed at the DuPont Co.’s powder yards. Explosives work was dangerous, but the du Ponts provided many benefits, including assisted migration, free or low-cost housing, interest-bearing savings accounts and widows’ pensions. As a result, the Irish remained loyal to their employers, convinced by their everyday experiences that their interests and the du Ponts’ were the same. Learn about their vibrant, close-knit community that differed in important ways from popular portrayals of the Irish experience in America. Mulrooney’s talk will draw on material in the archives of the Hagley Library, including oral interviews with many who lived in the Irish communities along the Brandywine. Mulrooney first visited Hagley Museum on an elementary school field trip, just like many other native Delawareans. A graduate of Padua Academy, she received her bachelor’s from the University of Delaware and her doctorate from the College of William & Mary. She presently serves as associate vice provost for university programs at James Madison University and teaches regularly in the history department. Her talk is based on her book, “Black Powder, White Lace: The du Pont Irish and Cultural Identity in Nineteenth Century America” (2002). She is currently completing a new manuscript called “Deep Currents: Race, Place, and Memory in Wilmington, N.C.” Reservations to her talk are requested; call 658-2400, ext. 243, or email clockman@hagley.org

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