Irish-American Heritage Month (March) and St. Patrick’s Day (March 17): 2016

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.

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Where They Live

33.1 million, or 10.4%

Number and percentage of U.S. residents who claimed Irish ancestry in 2014. 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.
Sources: 2014 American Community Survey, Table B04006
and Ireland Central Statistics Office    


Percentage of Massachusetts residents who claimed Irish ancestry in 2014. New Hampshire, at 20.9 percent, is the only other state in which more than 20 percent claimed Irish ancestry. (The rates for the two states were not statistically different from each other.) California had 2.5 million people claiming Irish ancestry, which was the highest of any state. Two other states — New York and Pennsylvania — also had more than 2 million Irish-Americans.
Source: 2014 American Community Survey, Table B04006|0400000US25|0400000US33|0400000US36|0400000US42


Percentage of the population of Braintree, Mass., who were of Irish ancestry. Braintree is just one example of the many communities near Boston that are close to having a majority Irish population. Scituate, Hanover, Marshfield and Norwell are some others.
Source: 2010-2014 American Community Survey, Table DP02


Number of Irish-Americans living in Chicago, 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 (363,045), home to the world’s oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day parade. Philadelphia was third at 176,568.
Source: 2014 American Community Survey, Table B04006

 Irish-Americans Today


Percentage of people of Irish ancestry, 25 or older, who had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In addition, 93.7 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 30.1 percent and 86.9 percent, respectively.
Source: 2014 American Community Survey, Table S0201


Median income for households headed by an Irish-American, higher than the median household income of $53,657 for all households. In addition, 7.0 percent of family households headed by a householder of Irish ancestry were in poverty, lower than the rate of 11.3 percent for all Americans.
Source: 2014 American Community Survey, Table S0201


Percentage of employed civilian Irish-Americans 16 or older who worked in management, business, science and arts occupations. Additionally, 24.8 percent worked in sales and office occupations; 15.6 percent in service occupations; 9.5 percent in production, transportation and material moving occupations; and 7.6 percent in natural resources, construction and maintenance occupations.
Source: 2014 American Community Survey, Table S0201


Percentage of householders of Irish ancestry who owned the home in which they live, with the remainder renting. For the nation as a whole, the homeownership rate was 63.1 percent.
Source: 2014 American Community Survey, Table S0201


Number of foreign-born U.S. residents with Irish ancestry in 2014. Of these, 143,256 had become naturalized citizens.
Source: 2014 American Community Survey, Table S0201

40.1 years old

Median age of those who claimed Irish ancestry, which is higher than U.S. residents as a whole at 37.7 years.
Source: 2014 American Community Survey, Table S0201


Sports Celebration of Irish Heritage


Population of South Bend, Ind., home to the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame. About 11.5 percent of South Bend’s population claimed Irish ancestry in 2014.
Source: 2014 Population Estimates and 2014 American Community Survey, Table DP02


Percentage of the Boston metropolitan area population that claimed Irish ancestry, the highest percentage among the 50 most populous metro areas. Boston is home to the Celtics of the National Basketball Association.
Source: 2014 American Community Survey, Table DP02

79,637 and 17,032

Population of New Rochelle, N.Y., and Moraga, Calif., home to the Gaels of Iona University and Saint Mary’s College of California, respectively. About 8.5 percent of the New Rochelle population and 12.7 percent of the Moraga population claimed Irish ancestry.
Sources: 2014 Population Estimates and 2010-2014 American Community Survey (Table DP02

Reminders of the Old Country


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 2014 was Dublin, Calif., at 54,695.
Source: 2014 Population Estimates

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 3,717 residents.
Source: 2014 Population Estimates

Other places that might conjure up images of the old country include the township of Irishtown, Ill., several places or county subdivisions named Clover (in South Carolina, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin) or one of the six places that are named Shamrock (in Oklahoma, Texas [two], Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska).
Source: 2015 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files


Estimated number of U.S. residents who spoke Irish Gaelic. All except about 2,500 of them also spoke English “very well.”
Source: Detailed Languages Spoken at Home and Ability to Speak English for the Population 5 Years and Over: 2009-2013


Number of U.S. residents who were born in Ireland.
Source: 2014 American Community Survey, Table B05006

$34.0 billion

Value of goods imported from Ireland in 2014. This compared with $7.8 billion exported there.
Source: Trade in Goods with Ireland

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

235,701 & 41,582

Number of full-service restaurants and drinking places (bars and taverns), respectively, in the U.S. in 2013. Many people will head to one or the other to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Source: 2013 County Business Patterns


Number of synthetic dye and pigment manufacturing establishments around the U.S. in 2013. It is an annual tradition to dye the Chicago River green as part of the Windy City’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The dye used very well could have been produced by one of these establishments.
Source: 2013 County Business Patterns|325130

40.3 billion & 2.2 billion

U.S. beef and cabbage production, respectively, in pounds, in 2014. Corned beef and cabbage is a staple at St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statsitics Service and

Editor’s note: The preceding data were collected from a variety of sources and may be subject to sampling variability and other sources of error. Facts for Features are customarily released about two months before an observance in order to accommodate magazine production timelines. Questions or comments should be directed to the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office: telephone: 301-763-3030; fax: 301-763-3762; or e-mail: <>.