Irish American Trivia

An Irish flag blowing in the wind

Wenzday/Flickr.com

How many facts and figures do you know about the Irish American population? Did you know, for example, that March is Irish-American Heritage Month? If so, you belong to a small group of Americans.

Too few people know that there is such a month at all, let alone which month it falls in, according to the American Foundation for Irish Heritage. While a number of events internationally take place in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, celebrating the Irish throughout the month of March has yet to become a routine practice.

The American Foundation for Irish Heritage aims to make the cultural heritage month, first celebrated in 1995, as popular as Black History Month or Hispanic Heritage Month. The group even offers tips on how to get the public to take more of an interest in celebrating the month-long observance, such as contacting public radio and television stations, Irish-American organizations and state governors.

The foundation already has one agency in its corner; the US Census Bureau. Each year, the bureau acknowledges Irish-American Heritage Month by releasing facts and figures about the Irish population.

Irish Ancestry in the US Population

Although Oktoberfest is nowhere near as popular as St. Patrick’s Day in the US, more Americans claim to be of German ancestry than any other. Irish is the second most popular ethnicity Americans claim. Nearly 35 million Americans report having Irish heritage, according to the census. That’s seven times the population of Ireland, which is an estimated 4.58 million.

Where Irish Americans Live

New York is home to the largest percentage of Irish Americans in the country. The state boasts an Irish-American population of 13%. Nationwide, the Irish-American population averages 11.2%. New York City also has the distinction of being host to the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It took place on March 17, 1762, and featured Irish soldiers in the English military. In the 5th century, St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland, but the day in his honor has now come to be associated with anything Irish-related.

Irish Immigrants to America

Precisely 144,588 Irish immigrants became naturalized US residents in 2010.

Wealth Among Irish Americans

Households headed by Irish Americans actually have higher median incomes ($56,363 yearly) than the $50,046 average for US households generally. Not surprisingly, Irish Americans also have lower poverty rates than Americans as a whole. Just 6.9% of households headed by Irish Americans had incomes at the poverty level, while 11.3% of American households generally did.

Higher Education

Irish Americans are more likely than the US population as a whole to be college graduates. While 33% of Irish Americans 25 or older have at least earned a bachelor’s degree and 92.5 have at least a high school diploma, for Americans generally, the corresponding numbers are only 28.2% and 85.6%, respectively.

The Workforce

About 41% of Irish Americans work in management, professional and related occupations, the census reports. Next in line are sales and office occupations. Just above 26% of Irish Americans work in that field, followed by 15.7% in service occupations, 9.2% in production, transportation, and material moving occupations, and 7.8% in construction, extraction, maintenance, and repair occupations.

Median Age

Irish Americans are older than the general US population. According to the 2010 census, the average American is 37.2 years old. The average Irish American is 39.2 years old.

The Most Irish President

John F. Kennedy broke the glass ceiling in 1961 by becoming the first Irish-American Catholic president. But he wasn’t the president with the most direct ties to Ireland. According to the "Christian Science Monitor," Andrew Jackson holds this distinction. Both of his parents were born in Country Antrim, Ireland. They relocated to the United States in 1765, two years before his birth.