The Irish in America


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What’s the most Irish town in America?

The 2010 US Census returns are in and the “most Irish town” in the country is Scituate, Massachusetts.  Scituate is located about 30 miles from Boston in an area known as the “Irish Riviera” – read the story from the Irish Central here.

In the article Richard Finnegan of Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts explains the Irish migration from inner-city Boston to the South Shore suburbs as the natural path in light of improved economic and social positions  attained by the Irish during the twentieth century.  It is interesting that the Irish seemed to replicate their urban neighborhoods in the new suburban landscape.  Professor Finnegan says that, “Family goes where their family and friends are.”  This was true of the nineteenth century Irish immigrants and it remains true for Irish Americans and new twenty-first century immigrants as well.

Professor Finnegan’s statement helps to make family history research a bit more manageable.  Searching US Census records on Ancestry.com for a family member who emigrated to America?  When you find a match, take a minute to look at the names of the neighbors…you might recognize names from your home town in Ireland. The same is true when searching passenger lists – especially those from the twentieth century which sometimes indicate a family or friend’s name and address in the US – the emigrant’s destination.

And when you reach a dead-end with your research, just remember what Professor Finnegan said…”Families go where their family and friends are.”  This simple and spot-on description of the Irish migratory experience may lead to new discoveries.

For more on Scituate, Massachusetts visit the town’s website.

If you would like to learn more about the Irish in Boston, click here.