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7 Surprisingly Irish Cities in America

These cities may not be huge, but they deliver big fun on St. Patrick's Day. 

By Livability on March 15, 2023

7 Surprisingly Irish Cities in America

Most people know places like BostonChicago and New York City have large Irish populations — and as a result, big St. Patrick’s Day parties. But you don’t often hear about the smaller cities across the U.S. These cities also boast a high percentage of Irish residents and celebrate accordingly. These lesser-known cities not only lay claim to Irish pubs, dance halls, clubs and festivals, but they are also perfect places to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

1. Butte, Montana

Nearly twenty-five percent of Butte-Silver Bow’s residents are Irish, and it shows. Often referred to as Ireland’s fifth province, Butte’s strong Irish history can be traced back to the city’s mining days. In the late 1800s, the local copper mine brought thousands of Irish immigrants to the area. By 1900, a quarter of the city’s population were Irish. As a result, Butte was once awarded the title of the ‘Most Irish Place in the U.S.‘ Today, the city is home to Maloney’s, a pub in the Butte District that draws crowds throughout the year but is especially known for its St. Patrick’s Day parties. Butte hosts a famous St. Patrick’s Day parade attracting more than 30,000 spectators and features floats, food vendors and more.

2. Atlantic City, New Jersey

Because of MTV’s Jersey Shore, you may associate the Atlantic City area with Italian Americans. However, the city also has a high percentage of residents with Irish roots. One of the city’s most popular destinations is The Irish Pub, which is open 24/7. This local spot has received rave reviews from locals and tourists alike for its authentic food and welcoming atmosphere. In addition, Atlantic City hosts a parade along the world-famous Atlantic City Boardwalk with marchers, Irish step dancers, bagpipers, and floats to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. At the same time, local casinos offer promotions and host special events in honor of the holiday. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Check out the running list of things to do in Atlantic City to celebrate St. Paddy. 

3. Hot Springs, Arkansas 

Hot Springs is home to the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. No, seriously. Each year, the parade takes place on the 98-foot-long Bridge Street at Hot Springs National Park. Legend has it that the idea was formed by a group of buddies sharing a few pints with some friends at a pub situated along the Bay Bridge, which is known as the World’s Shortest Street in Everyday Use. The first parade was held nearly 20 years ago, in March 2004 and has become a time-honored tradition ever since. 

Though the route may be short, Hot Springs doesn’t skimp out on the fun. The city goes big and has plenty of the luck of the Irish on its side, including the World’s Largest Leprechaun and the World’s Largest Inflatable Irish Pub. Yes, that’s a real thing!) In addition, locals love The Copper Penny, a downtown restaurant serving traditional Irish fare. Roughly 15% of Arkansas residents can trace their lineage back to Ireland. 

4. Savannah, Georgia

Southern charm meets Irish influence in Savannah, Georgia, where the  St. Patrick’s Day Parade, one of the nation’s largest and oldest parades, is held each March. The celebrations here last nearly all of March. However, the weekend closest to the holiday includes the St. Patrick’s Celebration on the River, the city’s biggest party of the year. Savannah can also take credit for being the first city to die their waterways green and keep up the tradition by dyeing the water green in nine fountains across the Historic District. In addition, the Savannah Shamrocks Rugby Club also hosts the annual St. Patrick’s Day Savannah Rugby Tournament, the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day rugby tournament. 

Roughly 15% of Savannah’s population is of Irish descent, and there is plenty of Guinness to go around at one of the city’s various Irish pubs. In addition, the city pays homage to its Irish roots at Emmet Park, commemorating Robert Emmet, the leader of the Irish Rebellion of 1803. Finally, there are various other ways to explore Savannah’s Irish side, including a visit to the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist or Savannah’s Blarney Stone. 

5. Auburn, New York

Auburn, New York, has the luck of the Irish year-round. McGeary’s Irish Pub allows the area’s many Irish residents to celebrate their heritage year-round. The city is also home to a Crane Irish Dance studio, and in nearby Marcellus, the McDonald School of Irish Dance offers classes for all skill levels. 

When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, Auburn does not disappoint. The local Ancient Order of Hibernians, the oldest Irish-Catholic lay organization in the U.S., hosts St. Patrick’s Day events each year, including a 300-foot parade giving Hot Springs a run for its money. Downtown, A.T. Walley & Co. bills itself as “the place to be on St. Patrick’s Day” as it features corned beef, flights of Irish whiskey and Irish step dancing.

6. Colorado Springs, CO

Downtown is the place to be for Colorado Springs residents looking to have a good time on St. Patrick’s Day. Locals celebrate the holiday with running and cycling events, including the Leprechaun Fun Run and a parade that draws more than 30,000 spectators and includes bands, floats, fire trucks and more. Jack Quinn Irish Alehouse and Pub, also downtown, marks St. Patrick’s Day with several days of parties, live music and family-friendly events. Abby’s Irish Pub and Alchemy are other can’t-miss spots for Irish-themed food, drinks and fun. Or, test your luck at The Triple Crown Casinos in Cripple Creek, just an hour outside Colorado Springs. 

7. Naperville, Illinois

Thanks to Chicago’s iconic green river, the city is usually top of mind when it comes to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish; however, Chicago’s nearby neighbor, Naperville, shouldn’t be left out. The greater Chicago metro area, which includes Naperville, has the fourth-largest Irish population in the country. Western Suburban Irish, Inc., located in Naperville, is a non-profit working to promote Irish pride and culture in the western suburbs of Chicago through cultural events, parades and charitable giving. The organization was created out of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and has since evolved and now hosts both the parade and an annual Irish Fest

Thanks to the large Irish population, Naperville celebrates its roots. The city is home to the McNulty School of Irish Dance, one of the Midwest’s largest and most active dance schools, which teaches all ages and experience levels traditional Irish dancing. Several independent businesses throughout Naperville mark their Irish heritage, including Casey’s Independent Foods, which keeps stock of beloved Irish dishes, and Quigley’s Irish Pub, where guests can enjoy an authentic Irish pub. 

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