On a normal Saint Patrick’s Day, marching bands, bagpipers, pub owners and revelers would be gearing up for a celebration of all things Irish on an occasion when some 13 million pints of Guinness are consumed across the globe (enough to fill two and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools). This year, unfortunately, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is set to result in deserted streets in Dublin and across the rest of Ireland for the second year running.
The event will also be a subdued affair on the other side of the Atlantic where Americans usually celebrate Ireland’s national holiday in style. In some cases, U.S. Saint Patrick’s Day traditions even go a step further than in Ireland itself such as in Chicago where the river is dyed green in an impressive display. In fact, Americans have led the way in making the event what it is today and the world’s very first Saint Patrick’s Day parade actually occurred in New York City on March 17, 1762.
The connection between the two countries remains strong and Congress designated March as Irish-American Heritage Month in 1991 while the Irish taoiseach (prime minister) flies to Washington every year to present the U.S. president with a bowl of shamrock, though that will be a virtual affair in 2021.
Given the lengths to which Americans go to embrace their Irish roots and enjoy the Saint Patrick’s Day festivities, just how many U.S. citizens can actually claim Irish ancestry today? Research conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that some 30.4 million Americans, or 9.2% of the population, claimed Irish ancestry in 2019. That is second only to German with an estimated 40.4 million U.S. citizens claiming ancestral ties to Europe’s economic powerhouse, or 12.3% of the population. English ancestry is the third most commonly claimed among Americans with 7.2 mllion people claiming links with Ireland’s neighbor.
*Click below to enlarge (charted by Statista)