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The most Irish cities in America

  • John Hoey // Wikimedia Commons
    1/ John Hoey // Wikimedia Commons

    The most Irish cities in America

    It’s almost time to pull out your green garments and shamrocks—Saint Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. The Irish holiday is celebrated throughout the United States, with cities boasting their own festivities. Travel down south to Savannah, Ga. to experience the third largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the world, or head up to Chicago to see the city’s river dyed green in celebration of the holiday.

    Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t the only day Irish-Americans celebrate their heritage—many cities feature events and festivals throughout the year. Here at Stacker, we calculated the 50 most Irish metropolitan areas throughout the country using estimated figures found on American Community Survey Data from 2016, which is the most current information available on the Census website. We cross-referenced the overall populations with the Irish populations to show the percent of Irish-Americans in each metropolitan area. See which cities boast large Irish communities, learn about their history and discover how they celebrate their heritage. Sláinte!

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    #50. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

    Total Population: 1,968,768
    Irish-American Population: 201,177
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 10.22%

    Saint Patrick’s Day starts on March 15 in Indianapolis, making it a three day festivity. This year will mark the 21st year Hoosier Lottery will turn the downtown canal green in celebration of the Irish holiday.

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    #49. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI

    Total Population: 1,028,173
    Irish-American Population: 106,062
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 10.32%

    In 1835, the first wave of Irish immigrants came to Grand Rapids. The community celebrates its heritage every year with the Irish on Ionia downtown street party.

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    #48. Charleston-North Charleston, SC

    Total Population: 728,271
    Irish-American Population: 76,286
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 10.47%

    The city boasts a South Carolina Irish Memorial that commemorates the Irish community’s deep roots in the city.

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    #47. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

    Total Population: 3,671,095
    Irish-American Population: 384,614
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 10.48%

    Thousands of Irish immigrants came to Seattle in the late 1890s because of the Klondike Gold Rush. The Irish community celebrates its heritage and Saint Patrick’s Day with Irish Week, a month-long series of festivities.

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    #46. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI

    Total Population: 1,571,730
    Irish-American Population: 165,226
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 10.51%

    The city hosts its own Irish Fest, which is a four day event in August featuring food, sports and a Jameson Lounge.

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    #45. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL

    Total Population: 680,970
    Irish-American Population: 74,291
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 10.91%

    See numerous live Irish bands and enjoy traditional Irish dance at the annual Cape Coral Irish Festival. The festival also offers games, food, arts and crafts, Irish beer and more. 

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    #44. Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC

    Total Population: 862,064
    Irish-American Population: 96,334
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 11.17%

    In 1992, the Cara Club met for the first time in Greenville to connect people of Irish descent. Since then, the city has become a hub for preserving Irish culture.

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    #43. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

    Total Population: 9,528,396
    Irish-American Population: 1,064,729
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 11.17%

    The first wave of Irish immigrants came to Chicago after the Irish potato famine in 1845. The city began its famous South Side Irish parade in 1979 when a group of local families marched through Morgan Park.

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    #42. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

    Total Population: 2,351,319
    Irish-American Population: 263,351
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 11.20%

    Irish workers found their way to Portland during the 1870s. The city’s Kells Irish Pub celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day and Irish traditions with an annual festival that benefits the Providence Child Center.

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    #41. Knoxville, TN

    Total Population: 857,111
    Irish-American Population: 96,769
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 11.29%

    Knoxville boasts its own Irish Society where members can play the ancient Irish sport of hurling, read Irish literature and participate in traditional Celtic music sessions.

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    #40. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

    Total Population: 3,488,436
    Irish-American Population: 395,206
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 11.33%

    St. Paul was named the No. 3 spot in America for the top places to consume Guinness beer.

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    #39. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

    Total Population: 2,752,056
    Irish-American Population: 313,162
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 11.38%

    Denver has its own Gaelic game team dubbed the Denver Gaels, and they partake in games such as hurling, football, handball, camogie and rounders.

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    #38. Tulsa, OK

    Total Population: 970,603
    Irish-American Population: 112,691
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 11.61%

    For the first time ever, the city will host the Tulsa Irish Festival. The free event will feature Irish food, art, music and culture.

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    #37. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

    Total Population: 2,927,714
    Irish-American Population: 342,744
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 11.71%

    All things should be green on Saint Patrick’s Day. In Tampa, you can even drink green beer on the holiday—but don’t worry, traditional Irish beer that’s not dyed will also be offered.

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    #36. Dayton, OH

    Total Population: 800,950
    Irish-American Population: 94,486
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 11.80%

    The Ohio city hosts an annual Celtic Festival in July that’s complete with music, whiskey tastings, games and more. 

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    #35. Colorado Springs, CO

    Total Population: 688,643
    Irish-American Population: 82,206
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 11.94%

    Attend the city’s annual parade or get decked out in all-green to run a 5K in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day.

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    #34. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL

    Total Population: 751,422
    Irish-American Population: 91,860
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 12.22%

    The city features numerous block parties with music, beer and food to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day.

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    #33. Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA

    Total Population: 561,447
    Irish-American Population: 68,683
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 12.23%

    Celebrate Irish culture for two weeks at Irish Fest, which features live Celtic music and performances from local Celtic dance companies.

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    #32. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL

    Total Population: 613,723
    Irish-American Population: 77,258
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 12.59%

    Enjoy traditional Irish music near the beach or, in Daytona Beach style, watch a motorcycle race this Saint Patrick’s Day.

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    #31. Toledo, OH

    Total Population: 606,684
    Irish-American Population: 76,607
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 12.63%

    The city boasts multiple Irish groups, such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians chapter and the Toledo Irish American Club.

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    #30. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

    Total Population: 2,780,873
    Irish-American Population: 353,164
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 12.70%

    Baltimore, which is said to have Irish associations in its naming, is home to the Irish Railroad Workers museum and its own “Little Dublin” section in the Patterson Park neighborhood.

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    #29. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN

    Total Population: 1,269,550
    Irish-American Population: 163,265
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 12.86%

    This September, celebrate everything Irish at the Louisville Irish Festival, which is thrown by the Irish Arts Foundation of Kentucky.

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    #28. Kansas City, MO-KS

    Total Population: 2,070,147
    Irish-American Population: 266,886
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 12.89%

    Irish immigrants came to the city during the mid-1800s, and with them they brought the knowledge and the labor that shaped the city’s construction. 

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    #27. Madison, WI

    Total Population: 634,269
    Irish-American Population: 82,245
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 12.97%

    Madison is home to its own Celtic Music Association, and the city also hosted a Mad Gael Music Festival last year.

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    #26. St. Louis, MO-IL

    Total Population: 2,803,449
    Irish-American Population: 369,813
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 13.19%

    St. Louis celebrated its first Saint Patrick’s day in 1820. In 1984, local Hibernians hosted their own holiday parade for the first time, and now it’s held annually.

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    #25. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

    Total Population: 2,061,630
    Irish-American Population: 271,862
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 13.19%

    The Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival, which is held in July, boats music, Irish dance, pipe bands, arts, food and more.

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    #24. Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA

    Total Population: 542,604
    Irish-American Population: 73,108
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 13.47%

    The mayor of Spokane declared a Week of the Irish last year to celebrate the culture. Since 1990, the city has been a Sister City with Limerick, Ireland.

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    #23. Columbus, OH

    Total Population: 1,995,004
    Irish-American Population: 268,962
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 13.48%

    This year, the city will boast multiple parades, a 5K run, a scavenger hunt and more to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day.

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    #22. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA

    Total Population: 552,521
    Irish-American Population: 75,809
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 13.72%

    The first Irish man settled in Youngstown in 1796, and others immigrants later came to the area following the Irish potato famine.

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    #21. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

    Total Population: 941,618
    Irish-American Population: 129,987
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 13.80%

    The city hosted its first Saint Patrick’s Day parade in 1983 and it has remained a tradition since. Other events—such as a Mr. & Miss Shamrock scholarship contest, a golf tournament and karaoke—will also be held to celebrate the holiday.

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    #20. Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ

    Total Population: 830,737
    Irish-American Population: 115,438
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 13.90%

    Bethlehem hosts an annual Celtic Classic festival in September, and it includes Highland games, live music, food, beer, competitions and more.

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    #19. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

    Total Population: 2,146,410
    Irish-American Population: 300,520
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 14.00%

    The Irish first made their way to the city during the mid-1840s as a result of the potato famine. Now, Cincinnati is home to its own Irish Heritage Center that was created to preserve the culture through the study of customs, theatre, literature and more.

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    #18. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL

    Total Population: 560,683
    Irish-American Population: 78,851
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 14.06%

    Start celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day a week early on Florida’s Space Coast with an Irish pub crawl. And when it’s the actual holiday, you can attend the city’s 19th annual Shamrockin’ Festival, which begins with an Irish breakfast buffet and is followed by a parade.

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    #17. Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA

    Total Population: 611,755
    Irish-American Population: 88,010
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 14.39%

    In 1856, a group of Irish immigrant families started a frontier Irish colony along the Des Moines River.

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    #16. Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA

    Total Population: 904,834
    Irish-American Population: 130,371
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 14.41%

    The first Irish native moved to Omaha in 1854 and built many of the city’s early buildings. In 10 years, more members of the Irish community began flocking to the city.

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    #15. Akron, OH

    Total Population: 703,168
    Irish-American Population: 101,963
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 14.50%

    The majority of the town’s early Irish residents helped construct the nearby Ohio and Erie Canal during the early 1800s.

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    #14. New Haven-Milford, CT

    Total Population: 860,874
    Irish-American Population: 127,285
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 14.79%

    New Haven’s first Saint Patrick’s Day parade began in 1842 and it claims to be the six oldest parade in the country.

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    #13. Rochester, NY

    Total Population: 1,082,226
    Irish-American Population: 164,432
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 15.19%

    In addition to the city’s parade, Rochester also hosts a Celtic Family Fair to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. The event boasts Irish dance performances, a petting zoo, a magician, crafts and more.

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    #12. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT

    Total Population: 1,211,826
    Irish-American Population: 185,255
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 15.29%

    Festivities for the city begin a week early on March 10 with the 47th annual Greater Hartford Saint Patrick's Day parade.

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    #11. Springfield, MA

    Total Population: 629,107
    Irish-American Population: 102,283
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 16.26%

    Springfield is home to its own Irish Cultural Center that was established to help preserve the heritage.

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    #10. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY

    Total Population: 1,135,503
    Irish-American Population: 188,049
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 16.56%

    Hold on to your kilt: The city’s Buffalo Irish Festival—complete with food, entertainment, crafts and more—takes place in August.

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    #9. Pittsburgh, PA

    Total Population: 2,354,926
    Irish-American Population: 421,703
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 17.91%

    The annual Pittsburgh Irish Festival is held in September to celebrate the halfway mark to Saint Patrick’s Day. The festival strives to promote cultural awareness with all things Irish.

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    #8. Providence-Warwick, RI-MA

    Total Population: 1,609,359
    Irish-American Population: 288,569
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 17.93%

    The area celebrates Saint Patrick’s day with a parade, a 5K, a pub crawl, block party and more.

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    #7. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

    Total Population: 6,047,721
    Irish-American Population: 1,120,713
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 18.53%

    Irish families began moving into the city during the 19th century to escape famine and economic depression. The influx of Irish immigrants coming to America lead to economic growth and industrialization.

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    #6. Worcester, MA-CT

    Total Population: 930,667
    Irish-American Population: 182,250
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 19.58%

    The city has been hosting Saint Patrick’s Day parades since 1890, and Irish immigrants began moving to Worcester as early as 1718.

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    #5. Portland-South Portland, ME

    Total Population: 523,874
    Irish-American Population: 105,619
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 20.16%

    Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t the only time you’ll see live Irish music performances. The Maine Irish Heritage Center, located in Portland, boasts events centered around Irish culture all year round.

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    #4. Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA

    Total Population: 559,898
    Irish-American Population: 116,818
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 20.86%

    Scranton celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day with a parade, and claims it’s the second largest one in the country. A mass is also held before the parade begins.

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    #3. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

    Total Population: 4,728,844
    Irish-American Population: 1,032,116
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 21.83%

    Many Irish immigrants came to Boston because of the potato famine, and the city now boasts a high number of Irish-Americans. In Boston, Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated with numerous events including an Irish Heritage Trail and an Irish Film Festival.

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    #2. Syracuse, NY

    Total Population: 660,652
    Irish-American Population: 144,597
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 21.89%

    The first Irish family is said to have come to Syracuse in 1821. The city celebrates its proud Irish heritage with the Syracuse Irish Festival and the Syracuse Trade Festival.

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    #1. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY

    Total Population: 879,291
    Irish-American Population: 194,226
    Percent of Metro Population That is Irish-American: 22.09%

    Irish immigrants made their way to Albany as early as the 1640s, and the city is now home to the Irish American History Museum to preserve the heritage.

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