Boston Irish Pride and History

Boston Irish Pride and History

January 19, 2021

The Boston area has long been known as an enclave for the Irish. But just how Irish is it?

Growing up just outside of Boston in Burlington Massachusetts I got a first hand look at just how Irish our state is. It seemed like every third person I went to High School with had an Irish last name. McGonigal, McDermott, O’Brien, McDonagh, McNeil, O’Leary and so on. Of course being of Italian decent I though we were the most plentiful ancestry, but that is a topic for another blog.

According to the US Census Bureau, pretty darn Irish.

In the Boston metropolitan area, 22.8 percent of the population said they were of Irish descent — the highest percentage of the top 50 most populous US cities, beating out other notable areas of Irish heritage like Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia, according to a 2014 survey.

In Massachusetts, 21.5 percent of the population — or just under 1.5 million people — claimed Irish ancestry, according to the survey. And in Braintree, a whopping 42.3 percent of residents said they were Irish.

“Braintree is just one example of the many communities near Boston that are close to having a majority Irish population,” agency officials wrote in a statement, listing Scituate, Hanover, Marshfield, and Norwell as others.

At 20.9 percent, New Hampshire is the only other state in the US with more than one-fifth of the population claiming Irish heritage, according to the Census Bureau.

What is it that brings the Irish to the North East in such massive numbers? My guess is the tough North East climate/lifestyle. The Irish are known to be a resilient and tough people. They were made this way by repeatedly surviving and thriving through tough times. Disease, war, famine, and environmental hardships. The Irish continue to stare down and defeat these catastrophes emerging ever stronger.

That reminds me of all the people I grew up with in and around Boston.

Another interesting Census tidbit about Irish-Americans: the median income for Irish-led households clocked in at $62,141, which is nearly $10,000 higher than the national median. And, Irish-Americans tend to hold a higher rate of high school diplomas and college degrees than the national average.

In the United States, 33.1 million people claimed Irish heritage in 2014 — more than seven times the actual population of Ireland at 4.6 million, according to the agency.

Finally the only people I know of that are prouder of their heritage than Bostonians, are Irish Bostonians. Some of the most fun people to have a beer with (or whiskey) I might add.

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