Irish History

Irish in America

The U.S. 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.

The following facts are made possible by the invaluable responses to the U.S. Census Bureau’s surveys. We appreciate the public’s cooperation as we continuously measure America’s people, places and economy.

Did You Know?

32.6 million or 10.1%  The number and percentage of U.S. residents who claimed Irish ancestry in 2017. Source: 2013-2017 American Community Survey

124,411  The number of foreign-born U.S. residents who reported Ireland as their birthplace in 2017. Source: 2013-2017 American Community Survey

31.1%  The county with among the highest percentage of people who claimed Irish ancestry in 2017 was Plymouth County, Mass. Source: 2013-2017 American Community Survey

20,590  The estimated number of U.S. residents who spoke Irish Gaelic.

Source: 2009-2013 American Community Survey