Irish-American Heritage Month and St. Patrick’s Day: March 2017

Congress proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month in 1991, and the President issues a proclamation commemorating the occasion each year.

Originally a religious holiday to honor St. Patrick, who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a celebration of all things Irish. The world’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred on March 17, 1762, in New York City, featuring Irish soldiers serving in the English military. This parade became an annual event, with President Truman attending in 1948.



32.7 million or 10.2%

The number and percentage of U.S. residents who claimed Irish ancestry in 2015. This number was more than seven times the population of Ireland itself (4.6 million). Irish was the nation’s second-most frequently reported European ancestry, trailing German.


The percentage of Massachusetts residents who claimed Irish ancestry in 2015. New Hampshire, at 20.6 percent, was the only other state in which at least 20.0 percent claimed Irish ancestry. (The rates for the two states were not statistically different from each other.) California had 2.5 million people who claimed Irish ancestry, which was the highest of any state. Two other states — New York and Pennsylvania — also had more than 2.0 million Irish-Americans.



The percentage of the population of Braintree, Mass., who claimed Irish ancestry in 2015. Braintree is just one example of the many communities near Boston with a large percentage of the population claiming Irish ancestry. Scituate and Marshfield Hills are two others.


The number of Irish-Americans living in Chicago in 2015, the location of one of the nation’s most renowned St. Patrick’s Day traditions: dyeing the Chicago River green. Chicago’s Irish-American population was second among cities only to New York (357,147), home to the world’s oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day parade. Philadelphia was third at 176,725.

Irish-Americans Today


The percentage of people of Irish ancestry, age 25 or older, who had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2015. In addition, 94.1 percent of Irish-Americans in this age group had at least a high school diploma. For the nation as a whole, the corresponding rates were 30.6 percent and 87.1 percent, respectively.


The median income for households headed by an Irish-American, higher than the median household income of $55,775 for all households in 2015. In addition, 6.5 percent of family households headed by a householder of Irish ancestry were in poverty, lower than the rate of 10.6 percent for all Americans.


The percentage of employed civilian Irish-Americans age 16 or older who worked in management, business, science and arts occupations in 2015. Additionally, 24.5 percent worked in sales and office occupations; 15.1 percent in service occupations; 9.4 percent in production, transportation and material moving occupations; and 7.8 percent in natural resources, construction and maintenance occupations.


The percentage of householders of Irish ancestry who owned the home in which they lived, with the remainder renting in 2015. For the nation as a whole, the homeownership rate was 63.0 percent.


The number of foreign-born U.S. residents with Irish ancestry in 2015. Of these, 143,972 had become naturalized citizens.


The median age of those who claimed Irish ancestry, which was higher than U.S. residents as a whole at 37.8 years in 2015.

Sports Celebration of Irish Heritage


The population of South Bend, Ind., home to the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame. About 8.1 percent of South Bend’s population claimed Irish ancestry in 2015.


The percentage of the Boston metropolitan area population that claimed Irish ancestry, the highest percentage among the 50 most populous metro areas in 2015. Boston is home to the Celtics of the National Basketball Association.

79,846 and 17,256

The population of New Rochelle, N.Y., and Moraga, Calif., home to the Gaels of Iona University and Saint Mary’s College of California, respectively, in 2015. About 8.3 percent of the New Rochelle population and 14.1 percent of the Moraga population claimed Irish ancestry.


Reminders of the Old Country


The number of places (incorporated places and census designated places) or county subdivisions in the United States that share the name of Ireland’s capital, Dublin. The most populous of these places in 2015 was Dublin, Calif., at 57,721.

If you’re still not into the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, then you might consider paying a visit to Emerald Isle, N.C., with 3,720 residents.

Other places and county subdivisions that might conjure up images of the old country include the township of Irishtown, Ill., several named Clover (in South Carolina, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin) or one of the six places and county subdivisions named Shamrock (in Oklahoma, Texas [two], Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska)


The estimated number of U.S. residents who spoke Irish Gaelic. All except about 2,500 of them also spoke English “very well.”


The number of foreign-born people in 2015 who reported Ireland as their birthplace.

$39.0 billion

The value of goods imported from Ireland in 2015. Of that, the highest commodity category was Pharmaceuticals and Medicines at $25.0 billion.

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

$133.0 million

The value of U.S. imports of cabbage in 2015. Cabbage is a well-known culinary tradition in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations


238,987 and 40,989

The number of full-service restaurants and drinking places (bars and taverns), respectively, in the United States in 2014. Many people will head to one or the other to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.


The number of synthetic dye and pigment manufacturing establishments around the United States in 2014. Part of the Windy City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration is to dye the Chicago River green. One of these establishments could have produced the dye they used.


3.7 billion and 2.2 billion

The number of pounds of U.S. beef and cabbage production, respectively, in 2015. Corned beef and cabbage is a staple at St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.