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 American Protestants first came to America in colonial years (pre-1776).The largest wave of Catholic Irish immigration came after the Great Famine in 1845. [5] Most came from some of Ireland's most populous counties, such as Cork, Galway, and Tipperary. Large numbers also originated in counties Cavan, Meath, Dublin, and Laois. [6]

In the Civil War, the massive anti-draft riots of 1863 represented a "civil war" inside the Irish Catholic community, according to Toby Joyce. The mostly Irish Catholic rioters confronted police, soldiers, and pro-war politicians who were often leaders of the Irish community. [7] 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. [8] After they came, Irish immigrants often crowded into subdivided homes, only meant for one family, and cellars, attics, and alleys all became home for the poorest immigrants. As they accumulated wealth they moved into better housing. [9] Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, was originally developed as a resort for wealthy Manhattanites in 1879, but instead became an upscale family-oriented Italian- and Irish-American community. [10] Another large Irish-American community is located in Woodlawn Heights, Bronx, [11] but Woodlawn Heights also has a mix of different ethnic groups. [12] Conditions were slow to improve in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen. [13]

Other sizable Irish-American communities include Belle Harbor and Breezy Point, both in Queens. [14] [15] 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." [11]

The Irish Catholic men were successful in joining the New York City Police Department as well as the New York Fire Department. Religious women became nuns teaching in parochial schools; others became public school teachers. In the neighborhoods, the Irish organized to again control over territory, jobs, and political organizations. As the "new immigrants" from Southern and Eastern Europe arrived 1880s-1914, the Irish incorporating them into their established system. It was a process of "Americanization." The Irish dominated the Catholic Church as bishops, priests, pastors and nuns. [16] The Church worked hard to keep Catholicism strong among the new arrivals, opening parish schools and high schools. [17] After 1945, a large-scale movement to the suburbs was made possible by the steady upward social mobility of the Irish. [18]

Irish colleges and universities

  • 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

Rory Dolan's Irish pub in Yonkers



Notable Irish New Yorkers

Irish mayors

Irish Bishops of the Archdiocese of New York

Irish Bishops of the Diocese of Brooklyn

Notable Irish New Yorkers

Irish gangs

Entertainment about Irish in New York City


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



  • 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. ^ Ronald H. Bayor and Timothy J. Meagher, eds. The New York Irish (1996) pp 12-18.
  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. S2CID  163537029.
  7. ^ Toby Joyce, "The New York Draft Riots of 1863: An Irish Civil War?" History Ireland (March 2003) 11#2, pp 22-27.
  8. ^ Helmreich 2013, p. 25.
  9. ^ Bayor and Meagher, eds. The New York Irish (1996) pp. 88, 400-401.
  10. ^ Goode, Kristen. "Bay Ridge, Brooklyn". The New York Times Company. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  11. ^ a b Helmreich 2013, p. 27.
  12. ^ Wilson, Claire (February 16, 2003). "If You're Thinking of Living In/Woodlawn; A Bronx Enclave With a Suburban Feel". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  13. ^ Manhattan||publisher=Prime Manhattan Realty|accessdate=May 4, 2009
  14. ^ "Walking Around – Belle Harbor – Irish New York City's Ethnic neighborhoods". 2004. Archived from the original on 2009-03-02. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  15. ^ "Walking Around – Breezy Point – Irish New York City's Ethnic neighborhoods". 2004. Archived from the original on 2009-03-02. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  16. ^ Thomas Shelley, " 'Only One Class of People to Draw Upon for Support': Irish-Americans and the Archdiocese of New York." American Catholic Studies (2001): 1-21.
  17. ^ James R. Barrett, and David R. Roediger, "The Irish and the 'Americanization' of the 'New Immigrants' in the Streets and in the Churches of the Urban United States, 1900-1930." Journal of American Ethnic History 24.4 (2005): 3-33, focus on New YHork and Chicago.
  18. ^ Morton D. Winsberg, "The Suburbanization of the Irish in Boston, Chicago and New-York." Eire-Ireland 21.3 (1986): 90-104.
  19. ^ 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].
  20. ^ page on Woodlawn
  21. ^ Irish restaurants in N. Riverdale
  22. ^ NY Times article, requires registration
  23. ^ "Irish fire-fighter obit". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2020-01-26.
  24. ^ "Top 7 Brooklyn Irish Pubs and Bars", by Wendy Zarganis, About:New York:Brooklyn web site Archived 2007-07-07 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Blog: "A Shamrock Grows in Brooklyn"
  26. ^ Henry Grattan's Pub web site Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Congressman' s site Archived 2007-04-30 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Neighborhood web site". Archived from the original on 2013-06-17. Retrieved 2007-05-08.
  30. ^ "Civic group". Archived from the original on 2013-11-16. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
  31. ^ Irish dance group
  32. ^ Forgotten NY web site
  33. ^ "Close up on Vinegar Hill", by Danial Adkinson, Village Voice web site
  34. ^ "If You're Thinking of Living in Vinegar Hill...", by Dulcie Leimbach, N.Y. Times, August 31, 2003 on line.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ Bayor and Meaghar (1996). The New York Irish. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN  978-0-8018-5199-5. (p. 414)
  37. ^ Staten Is. Cultural web site Archived 2007-05-06 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ Staten Island Irish Fair web site[ permanent dead link]
  39. ^ Information on Norwood, a.k.a. Bainbridge: page on Norwood
  40. ^ St. Barnabas' Parish web site
  41. ^ 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.

Further reading

  • Almeida, Linda Dowling. Irish Immigrants in New York City, 1945-1995 (Indiana University Press, 2001).
  • Anbinder, Tyler. Five Points: The 19th-century New York City neighborhood that invented tap dance, stole elections, and became the world's most notorious slum (Simon and Schuster, 2001). online
  • Anbinder, Tyler. "We will dirk every mother’s son of you- Five Points and the Irish conquest of New York Politics" Eire-Ireland (2001) 36(1): 29–46. excerpt
  • Barrett, James R., and David R. Roediger. "The Irish and the 'Americanization' of the 'New Immigrants' in the Streets and in the Churches of the Urban United States, 1900-1930." Journal of American Ethnic History 24.4 (2005): 3-33. How the Irish helped the "new immigration" in New York City and Chicago. online
  • Bayor, Ronald H., and Timothy Meagher, eds. The New York Irish (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997) online; 22 topical essays by experts.
  • Bayor, Ronald H. Neighbors in Conflict: The Irish, Germans, Jews, and Italians of New York City, 1929-1941 (U of Illinois Press, 1988). online
  • Bernstein, Iver. The New York City Draft Riots: Their Significance for American Society and Politics in the Age of the Civil War (1990).
  • Burrows, Edwin G., and Mike Wallace. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (Oxford University Press, 1999) 1383pp; a standard scholarly history.
  • Carregal-Romero, José. "The Irish Female Migrant, Silence and Family Duty in Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn." Études irlandaises 43-2 (2018): 129-141. online
  • Cook, Adrian. The Armies of the Streets: The New York City Draft Riots of 1863 (University Press of Kentucky, 1974).
  • Darby, Paul. "Gaelic games, ethnic identity and Irish nationalism in New York City c. 1880–1917." Sport in Society 10.3 (2007): 347-367.
  • Dolan, Jay P. The Immigrant Church: New York's Irish and German Catholics, 1815-1865 (1975) online
  • Glazer, Nathan, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Beyond the Melting Pot: The Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians, and Irish of New York City (MIT Press, 1970). online
  • Gordon, Michael Allen. The Orange Riots: Irish Political Violence in New York City, 1870 and 1871 (Cornell University Press, 1993). online
  • Gurock, Jeffrey S. "'Getting Along' in Parkchester: A New Era in Jewish–Irish Relations in New York City 1940–1970." Religions 9.6 (2018): 181+ [2].
  • Jackson, Kenneth T., ed. The encyclopedia of New York city (Yale University Press, 2010). online
  • Joyce, Toby. "The New York Draft Riots of 1863: An Irish Civil War?" History Ireland (March 2003) 11#2, pp 22-27. online
  • Kelly, Mary C. The shamrock and the lily: the New York Irish and the creation of a transatlantic identity, 1845-1921 (Peter Lang, 2005). online review
  • McGlmpsey, Christopher D. "Internal ethnic friction: Orange and green in nineteenth‐century New York, 1868–1872." Immigrants & Minorities 1.1 (1982): 39-59.
  • McGrath, Patrick. "Secular Power, Sectarian Politics: The American-Born Irish Elite and Catholic Political Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York." Journal of American Ethnic History 38.3 (2019): 36-75. online
  • Marston, Sallie A. "Making difference: conflict over Irish identity in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade." Political Geography 21.3 (2002): 373-392. online[ dead link]
  • Maye-Banbury, Angela. "Emerald City? The case for situational capital in advancing our understanding of Irish immigrants’ attachment to New York City as place." Irish Journal of Sociology (2022): 07916035221082548. online
  • Moses, Paul. An unlikely union: The love-hate story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2017). online
  • Nilsen, Kenneth E. "Irish in nineteenth century New York." in The Multilingual Apple: Languages in New York City (2002) pp: 53-69.
  • O'Donnell, Edward T. "Hibernians Versus Hebrews? A New Look at the 1902 Jacob Joseph Funeral Riot" Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 6.2 (2007): 209-225.
  • Rohs, Stephen Albert, and Stephen Rohs. Eccentric Nation: Irish Performance in Nineteenth-Century New York City (Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 2009), regarding theatres
  • Shelley, Thomas. " 'Only One Class of People to Draw Upon for Support': Irish-Americans and the Archdiocese of New York." American Catholic Studies (2001): 1-21.
  • Winsberg, Morton D. "The Suburbanization of the Irish in Boston, Chicago and New-York." Eire-Ireland 21.3 (1986): 90-104.

External links