Irish Americans in New York City

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The Irish community is one of New York City's major and important ethnic groups, and has been a significant proportion of the city's population since the waves of immigration in the late 19th century.

As a result of the Great Famine in Ireland, many Irish families were forced to emigrate from the country. By 1854, between 1.5 and 2 million Irish had left their country. In the United States, most Irish became city-dwellers. With little money, many had to settle in the cities that the ships landed in. By 1850, the Irish made up a quarter of the population in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Baltimore.

Today, Boston has the largest percentage of Irish-Americans of any city in the United States, while New York City has the most Irish Americans in raw numbers.[1] During the Celtic Tiger years, when the Irish economy was booming, the city saw a buying spree of residences by native Irish as second homes[2] or as investment property.[3]


Irish Americans (most of whom are Irish Catholic) make up approximately 5.3% of New York City's population, composing the second largest non-Hispanic white ethnic group.[4] Irish Americans first came to America in colonial years (pre-1776), with immigration rising in the 1820s due to poor living conditions in Ireland.[5] But the largest wave of Irish immigration came after the Great Famine in 1845.[5] The largest number of Irish immigrants came from some of Ireland's most populous counties, such as Cork, Galway, and Tipperary, surprisingly large numbers also originated in Counties Cavan, Meath, Dublin, and Laois, places not usually associated with the highest levels of emigration.[6]

In the "early days", the 19th century, the Irish formed a predominant part of the European immigrant population of New York City, a "city of immigrants", which added to the city's diversity to this day.[7]

After they came, Irish immigrants often crowded into subdivided homes, only meant for one family, and cellars, attics, and alleys all became home for some Irish immigrants.[8] In fact, New York once had more Irishmen than Dublin itself.[8] New York has long been a destination for Irish immigrants because they speak English, and there has long been a large Irish population there.[9]

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, was originally developed as a resort for wealthy Manhattanites in 1879, but instead became a family-oriented Italian- and Irish-American community.[10] Another large Irish-American community is located in Woodlawn Heights, Bronx,[9] but Woodlawn Heights also has a mix of different ethnic groups.[11] One large Irish community in Manhattan was Hell's Kitchen.[12]

Other sizable Irish-American communities include Belle Harbor and Breezy Point, both in Queens.[13][14] Two big Irish communities are Marine Park and neighboring Gerritsen Beach. The Irish have also settled "to a far lesser extent [in] Maspeth, Woodside, and Sunnyside, Queens."[9]

The Irish in New York developed a particular reputation for joining the New York City Police Department as well as the New York Fire Department.[citation needed]

Irish colleges and universities[edit]

  • Fordham University Founded by Archbishop John Hughes an Irish immigrant, and built by Irish labor. Most of the Jesuits are Irish-Americans and Irish Americans make up a sizeable amount of the student body. The University president Rev. Joseph McShane, SJ is an Irish American.
  • St. John's University Founded by Bishop John Laughlin an Irish immigrant aiming to educate Irish and other immigrants in a strong Catholic atmosphere. Almost every president of the University has been an Irish American, and many of the Vincentian priests that run the University are Irish as well as lay staff and professors. The University president Rev. Brian Shanley, OP is an Irish American.
  • Manhattan College A large amount of the student body, staff and professors are Irish American. Its athletic teams are named the Jaspers, in honor of Brother Jasper of Mary, an Irish immigrant, administrator at the school and inventor of the seventh inning stretch. The College president Brennan O'Donnell, is an Irish American.

Irish neighborhoods[edit]

Rory Dolan's Irish pub in Yonkers



Notable Irish New Yorkers[edit]

Irish mayors[edit]

Irish Bishops of the Archdiocese of New York[edit]

Irish Bishops of the Diocese of Brooklyn[edit]

Notable Irish New Yorkers[edit]

Irish gangs[edit]

Entertainment about Irish in New York City[edit]


Fairytale of New York by Irish band The Pogues refers to the NYPD choir singing Galway Bay. This is traditional because the force traditionally was largely made up of Irish Americans.

Notable movies[edit]



  • Helmreich, William B. (2013). The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6000 Miles in the City. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton U. Press. ISBN 978-0-691-14405-4.


  1. ^ Irish American Fun Facts & Trivia
  2. ^ The Real Estate Bloggers
  3. ^ An Irish Taste for Real Estate in Manhattan, by Patrick McHeehan, N.Y. Times, May 8, 2007 (The page number is not available; it is available on-line with registration).
  4. ^ "New York city, New York – QT-P13. Ancestry: 2000". American Fact Finder. United States Census Bureau. 2000. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved April 23, 2009.
  5. ^ a b "Immigration... Irish: Irish-Catholic Immigration". Library of Congress. Retrieved April 23, 2009.
  6. ^ Anbinder, Tyler (2015). "Which Irish men and women immigrated to the United States during the Great Famine migration of 1846-54?". Irish Historical Studies. 39 (156): 620–642. doi:10.1017/ihs.2015.22.
  7. ^ Helmreich 2013, p. 25.
  8. ^ a b "Immigration... Irish: Adaptation and Assimilation". Library of Congress. Retrieved April 23, 2009.
  9. ^ a b c Helmreich 2013, p. 27.
  10. ^ Goode, Kristen. "Bay Ridge, Brooklyn". The New York Times Company. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  11. ^ Wilson, Claire (February 16, 2003). "If You're Thinking of Living In/Woodlawn; A Bronx Enclave With a Suburban Feel". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. p. 1. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  12. ^ Manhattan||publisher=Prime Manhattan Realty|accessdate=May 4, 2009
  13. ^ "Walking Around – Belle Harbor – Irish New York City's Ethnic neighborhoods". 2004. Archived from the original on 2009-03-02. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  14. ^ "Walking Around – Breezy Point – Irish New York City's Ethnic neighborhoods". 2004. Archived from the original on 2009-03-02. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  15. ^ A bit o' the Irish brogue: Woodlawn: An Irish enclave in the far reaches of the Bronx, by Patrick Ward, amNY, February 8, 2007, at pp. 34, 36, 38; see also at [1].
  16. ^ page on Woodlawn
  17. ^ Irish restaurants in N. Riverdale
  18. ^ NY Times article, requires registration
  19. ^ "Irish fire-fighter obit". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2020-01-26.
  20. ^ "Top 7 Brooklyn Irish Pubs and Bars", by Wendy Zarganis, About:New York:Brooklyn web site Archived 2007-07-07 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Blog: "A Shamrock Grows in Brooklyn"
  22. ^ Henry Grattan's Pub web site Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Congressman' s site Archived 2007-04-30 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Neighborhood web site". Archived from the original on 2013-06-17. Retrieved 2007-05-08.
  26. ^ "Civic group". Archived from the original on 2013-11-16. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
  27. ^ Irish dance group
  28. ^ Forgotten NY web site
  29. ^ "Close up on Vinegar Hill", by Danial Adkinson, Village Voice web site
  30. ^ "If You're Thinking of Living in Vinegar Hill...", by Dulcie Leimbach, N.Y. Times, August 31, 2003 on line.
  31. ^ a b Ellen Freudenheim, Queens: What to do, where to go (and how not to get lost) in New York's Undiscovered Borough, pp. 15-16 (Woodside), 262-265 (Rockaways), 267-275 (Sunnyside), 277-287 (Woodside). (St. Martin's NY 2006) ISBN 0-312-35818-0.
  32. ^ Bayor and Meaghar (1996). The New York Irish. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-5199-5. (p. 414)
  33. ^ Staten Is. Cultural web site Archived 2007-05-06 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ Staten Island Irish Fair web site[permanent dead link]
  35. ^ Information on Norwood, a.k.a. page on Norwood
  36. ^ St. Barnabas' Parish web site
  37. ^ Diana Shaman, If You're Thinking of Living In /Woodhaven, Queens; Diversity in a Cohesive Community, New York Times September 20, 1998, found at NY Times article on the diversity of Rego Park including Irish-Americans. Accessed November 8, 2007.

External links[edit]