Irish Women and Chinese Men: Meant for Each Other

by Molly Matthews in


19th Century Irish Women and Chinese Men: Meant for Each Other

Couple: Irish and Chinese.png

My heart was pounding the day I attended a lecture at a Yale college reunion (my husband is the grad.)  Professor Mary Ting Yi Lie was speaking about her book, The Chinatown Trunk Mystery: Murder, Miscegenation, and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-of-the-Century New York City, which takes place about the same time as Irish Luck, Chinese Medicine.

I had followed my muse, not studied history. In the book, my characters, Irish woman and Chinese man, fall in love. They connect after Irish and Chinese laborers built the transcontinental railroad. Although they come from opposite sides of the world, the two grow together over shared experiences fleeing oppression, facing discrimination, and longing for a better life, 

I entered the hall wondering if the Yale expert would declare the love match impossible.

Turns out, in this case at least, my characters channeled the truth. I learned from Dr. Liu and subsequent research that Irish “Bridget’s” came to America as domestics in the east and Chinese men came to build the railroad out west – thus the gender imbalance in both communities led to relationships and some marriages too.  

Isn’t it great when the Universe sends us gifts from our subconscious imagination?

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