Lieutenant Thaddeus Clark was the first known Irishman to settle in Maine in 1662, in what is now Portland. Irish immigrants trickled into Maine until the mid-nineteenth century, when economic depression and famine made Ireland a difficult place to live.
Maine experienced a vastly greater number of Irish immigrating to the state, but they managed to slowly eke out a living in their new home. Irish immigrants worked on ambitious engineering projects like the Grand Trunk Railroad and the Cumberland and Oxford Canal. John Bundy Brown's sugar factory employed Irish immigrants, as did the Portland Company, which produced locomotives, railroad cars, and ship engines.
Prejudice against the Irish grew strong starting in the 1830s in Maine and elsewhere, in conjunction with the start of a large flood of Irish immigration. In the face of discrimination and difficult working conditions, people of Irish descent grouped together to pull themselves out of poverty. They played active roles in organizations like trade unions, and as the Irish began to move into the middle classes in larger numbers, Irish-owned businesses became more common.
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