St. Patrick's Day and Irish-American Heritage Month (March) 2008

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. President Truman attended the parade in 1948, a proud moment for the many Irish whose ancestors had to fight stereotypes and prejudice to find acceptance in America. Congress proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month in 1995, and the president issues a proclamation each year.

Population Distribution 36 million Number of U.S. residents who claim Irish ancestry. This number is almost nine times the population of Ireland itself (slightly more than 4 million). Irish is the nation's second most frequently reported ancestry, trailing only German.

24% Percent of Massachusetts residents who are of Irish ancestry. This compares with a corresponding rate of 12 percent for the nation as a whole. Source: 2006 American Community Survey

Irish-Americans Today 31% Percentage of people of Irish ancestry, 25 or older, who had a bachelor's degree or more education. In addition, 91 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 27 percent and 84 percent. Source: 2006 American Community Survey

$54,531 Median income for households headed by an Irish-American, higher than the $48,451 for all households. In addition, 9 percent of people of Irish ancestry were in poverty, lower than the rate of 13 percent for all Americans. Source: 2006 American Community Survey

38% Percentage of employed civilian Irish-Americans 16 or older who work in management, professional and related occupations. Additionally, 28 percent work in sales and office occupations; 15 percent in service occupations; 10 percent in production, transportation and material moving occupations; and 9 percent in construction, extraction, maintenance and repair occupations. Source: 2006 American Community Survey

72% Percentage of householders of Irish ancestry who own the home in which they live, with the remainder renting. For the nation as a whole, the homeownership rate was 67 percent. Source: 2006 American Community Survey

Places to Spend the Day

4 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 2,623 and 1,855 residents, respectively. Shamrock Lakes, Ind., had 159 residents and Shamrock, Okla., 124. (Statistic for Mount Gay-Shamrock is from Census 2000; the other statistics are 2006 estimates.) Sources: American FactFinder and population estimates

9 Number of places in the United States that share the name of Ireland's capital, Dublin. Since Census 2000, Dublin, Calif., has surpassed Dublin, Ohio, as the most populous of these places (41,840 compared with 36,565, respectively, as of July 1, 2006). 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 3,716 residents. Sources: American FactFinder and population estimates

The Celebration 42.1 billion and 2.6 billion U.S. beef and cabbage production, respectively, in pounds, in 2006. Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional St. Patrick's Day dish. The corned beef that celebrants dine on may very well have originated in Texas, which produced 6.8 billion pounds worth of beef, while the cabbage most likely came from California, which produced 607 million pounds worth, or New York (462 million pounds). Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

$42 million Value of potted florist chrysanthemum sales at wholesale in 2006 for operations with $100,000 or more sales. Lime green chrysanthemums are often requested for St. Patrick's Day celebrations. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

Trade with the "Old Sod" $22.9 billion The value of U.S. imports from Ireland for January to September 2007. Meanwhile, the United States exported $6.6 billion worth of goods to Ireland.

Source: Census Bureau's Facts for Features series at www.census.gov