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Irish Heritage Statistics in the USA 2021

Written by: Doug
Published: 1st June 2021

Irish Heritage has been a talking point in the US for many years now. There are so many people, not only in the USA itself, but all over the world who identify as Irish, have Irish history in their family tree or simply just wish they were Irish! And who’s to blame them given Ireland’s rich history and lore?

Here, we delve into the numbers behind the rise of this Irish craze, revealing everything you need to know, and more, about Irish Heritage in 2021. 

Irish Heritage: The Quick Version

Our research found that: 

  • More than a quarter (25.75%) of US residents say they have Irish ancestry.
  • People in Massachusetts search online for ‘Irish citizenship’ more than any other US state.
  • People in Oregon appear to be most keen to move to Ireland, as residents here search for the term ‘move to Ireland’ more frequently than those in any other state. 

How many people in the USA Are Irish?

In May 2021, we conducted a survey using Google Surveys and asked a representative sample of 1,000 US adults ‘How Irish Are you?’, providing them with the following list of options: 

  • I have no Irish heritage at all
  • I know that I have Irish ancestors/relatives
  • I don’t know
  • I suspect I have Irish ancestors/relatives
  • I wish I were Irish – but I’m not at all

Our survey revealed that: 

  • 1 in 4 US adults have Irish ancestors or relatives. That’s 25.75% of the adult population of the USA, equating to over 52 million people. 
  • 8.23% of US adults suspect they have Irish heritage, that’s around 1 in every 12 people.
  • And another 6.97% are not Irish in any way, but wish they were! 

According to the most recent Census data, Cook County in the state of Illinois has the largest Irish population of all the US counties, being home to almost 440,000 Irish-American citizens.

However, when it comes to the states with the largest population of people identifying as being Irish (with single ancestry), New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania top the list. According to the most recent US census, this accounts for approximately 528,000 people.

How Many Americans Want to Move to Ireland?

As we know, there’s a wealth of history between Ireland and America which compelled us to discover how many people in the US are thinking about taking the leap across the pond to Ireland. To do this, we conducted analysis using the tool Keyword Finder

State Average Yearly Searches in Google USA Per Million People For ‘Move to Ireland’
Oregon 38
Massachusetts 35
Wyoming  34
Washington 34
Vermont 32
Colorado 31
Maine 30
New Hampshire 29
Alaska 28
North Dakota 26
USA (average) 20.5

Our analysis found that: 

  • People in Oregon conduct more online searches for the term ‘move to Ireland’ than any other US state, as the term is searched here almost twice as many times a year than the national average. 
  • People in Massachusetts, Wyoming and Washington also appear to have an interest in moving to Ireland, as the term ‘move to Ireland’ is also searched for frequently in these states. 

To discover the number of searches per million people, we took the average yearly search volume for each state and divided this by each state’s population, before multiplying this by 1000,000. This gave us the average search volume per million people.

Irish Citizenship in the United States

Even amongst those who don’t have Irish Heritage, many Americans appear to be on the lookout for ways to obtain Irish citizenship. Using the same methods as above, our analysis found that: 

  • Each month in the US, the term ‘Irish passport’ is searched almost 2,300 times
  • The term ‘Irish citizenship’ is also frequently searched for in the US, averaging at 4,000 searches a month. That’s equivalent to 129 times, every single day. 
  • It appears that the largest proportion of searches, based on population per state, comes from Massachusetts with an average of 25 searches per million people for the term ‘Irish citizenship’. This is then followed by New York and New Jersey

‘Irish Passport’ Interest Over Last 12 Months – USA: Google Trends

The graph above shows that between July 2020 and March 2021, there were two clear spikes in the number of people searching online for Irish passports. These peaks appear to have correlated with news of the new post-Brexit border and immigration system.

How many people in the USA have Irish Heritage?

  • Across the United States, just over 30.3 million people claim they have Irish ancestry. This accounts for approximately 9.2% of the population of the US and makes Irish the second most common ancestry type after German. 
  • Cook County in the state of Illinois has the largest Irish population of all the US counties, being home to almost 440,000 Irish-American citizens.

However, when it comes to the states with the largest population of people identifying as being Irish (with single ancestry), New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania top the list. According to the most recent US census, this accounts for approximately 528,000 people.

How Many Irish People Are There Around The World?

Both Ireland itself and the Irish are hugely popular around the globe. It’s estimated that there are now around 70 million people who claim Irish heritage or ancestry worldwide. Considering the relatively small population of Ireland (4.9 million), this number is incredible.

But which countries outside of Ireland are home to the most Irish people?

To find out, we took a look at the United Nation’s most recent population figures and pulled a list of the top 10 countries worldwide with the highest proportion of people with Irish Heritage:

Country Number Of Irish Migrants Percentage Of Irish Heritage Dispersion
United Kingdom 503,288 57.1%
United States of America 132,280 15%
Australia 101,032 11.5%
Canada 33,530 3.8%
Spain 14,651 1.7%
South Africa 13,009 1.5%
Germany 11,373 1.3%
France 9,828 1.1%
New Zealand 9,398 1.1%
Poland 7,592 0.9%

Figures from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Although these figures are from 2015, they’re unlikely to have changed drastically since this time. These figures really highlight just how widespread Irish heritage actually is across the globe.

It’s quite clear that the Irish, their culture, history and traditions have had a huge impact on the rest of the world, leaving their mark on the lives of many, both in America and further afield.  It’s great to see that more and more people appear to be making attempts to tune into that side of their past and learn more about their ancestors.

 


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Written by: Doug


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