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 for 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 Harry Truman attending in 1948. Congress proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month in 1995, and the president issues a proclamation commemorating the occasion each year.
Here are some statistics about the Irish in America as provided by the Census Bureau:
• 34.5 million - Number of U.S. residents who claimed Irish ancestry in 2011. This number was more than seven times the population of Ireland itself (4.68 million). Irish was the nation’s second most frequently reported ancestry, trailing only German.
• 50,990 - Number of Irish-born naturalized U.S. residents in 2011.
• 39.3 years old - Median age of U.S. residents who claim Irish ancestry is higher than the U.S. residents median age as a whole (37.3 years).
• 12.9 percent - Percent of New York state residents who were of Irish ancestry in 2011. This compares with a rate of 11.1 percent for the nation as a whole.
• 33.3 percent - Percentage of people of Irish ancestry, 25 or older, who had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In addition, 92.9 percent of Irish-Americans in this age group had at least a high school diploma. For the nation as a whole, the corresponding rates were 28.5 percent and 85.9 percent, respectively.
• $57,319 - Median income for households headed by an Irish-American, higher than the $50,502 for all households. In addition, 7.3 percent of families of Irish ancestry were in poverty, lower than the rate of 11.7 percent for all Americans families.
• 69.3 percent - Percentage of householders of Irish ancestry who owned the home in which they live, with the remainder renting. For the nation as a whole, the homeownership rate was 64.6 percent.
• 7 - Number of places in the United States named Shamrock, the floral emblem of Ireland. Mount Gay-Shamrock, W.Va., and Shamrock, Texas, were the most populous, with 1,585 and 1,929 residents, respectively. Shamrock Lakes, Ind., had 228 residents and Shamrock, Okla., 101. Three Shamrock Townships in Minnesota, Nebraska and Missouri had populations of 1,273, 301 and 40, respectively.
• 13 - Number of places in the United States that share the name of Ireland’s capital, Dublin. The most populous of these places is Dublin, Calif., with a population of 43,572.
If you’re still not into the spirit of St. Paddy’s Day, then you might consider paying a visit to Emerald Isle, N.C., with 3,702 residents.
• Other appropriate places in which to spend the day: The township of Irishtown, Ill., several places or townships named Clover (in South Carolina, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and the township of Cloverleaf, Minn.
• In the month of St. Patrick’s Day, the value of U.S. imports of beer made from malt increased, going from $288,073,597 in February 2012 to $374,076,005 in March 2012; in April of that same year the value of beer imports went back down to $334,769,134.
The pattern was the same for nonalcoholic beer. The value of its U.S. imports increased, going from $1,114,450 in February 2012 to $1,234,910 in March 2012; in April of that same year the value of nonalcoholic beer imports went back down to $1,173,111.
• $39.4 billion - The total value of imports from Ireland in 2011 to the U.S.
• $532.1 million - The total value of alcoholic beverages except wine and related products imported from Ireland in 2011 to the United States. The total amount of wine and related products imported from Ireland in 2011 to the U.S. was $6.0 million.
• $2.8 billion and $28.6 million - Value of beef and cabbage imported to the U.S. in 2011. Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish.