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THIS POST IS A COLLABORATION WITH LAWNSTARTER. THEY PROVIDED THE STATS FROM THEIR Most Irish CITY RESEARCH AND I ADDED additional INFO ABOUT EACH CITY.
March celebrates National Irish American Heritage Month by honoring the achievements and contributions of Irish immigrants and their descendants living in the US. Choosing March was intentional, to coincide with Saint Patrick’s Day on the 17th.
To add to the celebrations and fun, discover where the ten most Irish cities in the US are located and why they are at the top of the list.
The Criteria for the Ten Most Irish Cities in the US
Lawnstarter compared the 200 largest US cities based on the following criteria:
- the size of their Irish population
- availability of Irish restaurants and pubs
- number of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations and other Irish cultural events
- number of Irish cultural groups and organizations such as Irish dance schools, cultural centers and networking groups.
As the saying goes, “everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day”. And many of us, me included, do claim Irish ancestry. According to my AncestryDNA results, I am 9% Irish. Some cities have a large concentration of descendants from Irish ancestors. Check to see if your city made the list, based on the criteria above.
1. Boston, MA
Unsurprisingly, Boston ranks as the top Irish city in the US. Irish immigrants began arriving in Massachusetts during and after the potato famine in the 1840s.
Today slightly more than 20% of Boston’s population is made up of Irish Americans, making it the city with most concentrated Irish population. Irish American Bostonians celebrate big with an annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade. And the city boasts plenty of Irish inspired restaurants and pubs featuring Guinness.
Fun Fact: The influx of Irish immigrants resulted in the distinct Bostonian accent heard today.
2. Chicago, IL
Chicago is the fourth largest Irish city, population wise, and claims the second spot on the list due to holding the most Irish community events…143 of them. The McNutty School of Irish Dance also began in this city.
The Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago is a non-profit organization that offers programs featuring Irish dance, literature, heritage, music and cultural contributions to the US.
Fun Fact: The city dyes the Chicago River green for Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. This year the river begins flowing green on Saturday March 12.
3. New York, NY
New York takes the third Irish city spot. They rank high for number of Irish restaurants and pubs.
And the city holds the largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the nation. The six hour long parade features Irish dancers, pipers playing bagpipes and other performers marching down the street with more than 2 million spectators in attendance. They also host many other Irish celebrations.
Fun Fact: New York sponsors the “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” Saint Patrick’s Day bar crawl.
4. Pittsburgh, PA
Coming in at #4, Pittsburg’s first Scots-Irish immigrants arrived in the 1700s with Catholic Irish arriving 100 years later. The potato famine brought thousands more, many of whom found work with the railroads. Today nearly 11% of the city’s population list Irish as their ancestors.
The Irish Centre of Pittsburgh educates its members and the community about the Gaelic culture. It hosts lectures, classes, arts and crafts, music, drama and dance as well as social and athletic events to preserve the city’s Irish culture.
Fun Fact: Pittsburgh is one of only three cities in the US that boasts a chapter of the Knights of Equity. The club promotes traditional Irish dance and folk music.
5. Naperville, IL
Naperville ranks 5th with a high Irish population of about 14%. They host an annual family oriented Saint Patrick’s Day parade that celebrates Irish American heritage and culture.
West Suburban Irish is a non-profit organization headquartered here that promotes, nurtures and strengthens Irish culture in the western suburbs of Chicago.
Fun Fact: Quigley’s Irish Pub in Naperville serves up classic Irish fare. The West Suburban Irish calls this pub home, holding their meetings there once a month.
6. Philadelphia, PA
In Philadelphia, 12% of the city’s residents claim Irish heritage, with most of those living in the suburbs. Philadelphia’s founder, William Penn, was part Irish on his mother’s side. The Society of the Friendly Sons of St Patrick was founded in Philly in 1771.
Today the city boasts a large number of Irish pubs such as Isabella Barry’s Faithful Irishman and The Jolly Irishman. Philadelphia celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day big time with a parade and a bar crawl.
Fun Fact: The Philadelphia Fleadh is a one day Irish American festival held annually in May. It features local and international traditional Irish music plus dance, shopping, food, spirits and activities.
7. Denver, CO
Leaving the East Coast and Midwest, we head to Denver, #7 on the top ten list. Irish immigrants headed west after the discovery of silver. When the silver boom ended, the Irish moved to Denver.
Today the Mile High City ranks high in Irish food and drink locations and hosts multiple Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Fun Fact: The famous unsinkable Molly Brown raised funds to build the Cathedral Basilica of Immaculate Conception in Denver. Through her legacy, the Molly Brown House, Colorado’s rich Irish heritage is preserved.
8. Spokane, WA
In Spokane, nearly 14% of the population lists Irish ancestry. Irish settlers arrived in the area in the mid 1800s, eager to claim land and take advantage of the many opportunities the northwest offered.
Spokane often plays host to Irish musicals and theater performances.
Fun Fact: Spokane is the sister city to Limerick, Ireland and encourages the appreciation of Irish and American cultures between the two communities,
9. Syracuse, NY
Irish immigrants came to the Syracuse area between 1778 and 1910. While some came from Ireland, others came from Canada and other countries they previously immigrated to. Currently 1/6 of the population claims Irish ancestry.
Syracuse hosts a yearly parade and an Irish Festival that features music, dance, folk songs, genealogy, culture and activities.
Fun Fact: Early Irish immigrants settles in a far west neighborhood called Tipperary Hill, named for County Tipperary in Ireland. It’s still proudly Irish today. The neighborhood has a traffic light from the 1920s with green at the top instead of red, as a strong identity with Ireland, the Emerald Isle.
10. Worchester, MA
Coming in at 10th place on the list, Worchester received its first Irish and Scottish immigrants in 1718. However it was the building of the Blackstone Canal, connecting Worchester with Providence, RI, that caused the growth of the Irish population. Between 1826 and 1828 1,000 Irish immigrants moved to Worchester to help construct the canal. Today nearly 1/3 of the small city’s residents still claim Irish ancestry,
The community offers several Irish pubs and on Saint Patrick’s Day, a parade and an Irish Festival.
Fun Fact: To mark the 150th anniversary of the Irish settlement in Worchester, the Irish American community erected a Celtic Cross on Worchester Common in 1977.
Celebrating Irish American Ancestry
How many of these cities have you visited? On this list, I’ve visited Philadelphia and Denver. Boston and Chicago are on my Adventure List. I’d love to create a second list with some of these cities on it.
And I traveled to Dublin, Ireland in 2017 with four other family members. What a fun time connecting with my Irish roots there. It’s a beautiful country with a rich heritage.
Pop over to see LawnStarter’s study post HERE on Irish cities. They have other fun studies too such as Best Cities for Cat Lovers and Best Cities for Carless Weekend Trips.
LawnStarter is a startup company that makes lawn care easy, affordable and reliable. They have a blog for lawn care…and these fun studies.
How do you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day and your Irish ancestry?
Add to your Irish celebrations with these Amazon finds:
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5 Replies to “Ten Most Irish Cities in the US”
I’ve actually been to most of these! Just like Chicago, we dye our canal green for St. Patricks Day (Indianapolis).
I probably should celebrate my Irish heritage more…usually green beer. Loved learning which cities are most Irish. I visited NYC over St. Patrick’s Day once and it was so much fun!
There are towns in that list that I would not have thought of for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
I experience the Irish traditions here in Boston every day. However, Denver really surprised me.
I would love to see the Chicago River Green! That would be so cool!