Gallarus Oratory, 6th/12th? century, Dingle, County Kerry…as always, click on the pix for larger images…

The Irish National Library and the Catholic Church in Ireland have launched a major project which will be helpful to those researching Irish ancestors. Church records from almost 1,100 parishes, previously only available in Ireland on microfilm, are being digitized and will be available through a free website beginning sometime next summer. The information will vary from parish to parish, but will typically include marriage and baptismal records, including names of godparents and witnesses. The period covered is the 1740s through the 1880s.

You can read the Catholic News Service story here:

Worldwide, some 80 million people claim full or partial Irish ancestry. That includes about 36 million Americans, 14 million Brits, 7 million Australians, 4.5 million Canadians and up to 1 million Argentines. The population of the Republic of Ireland itself is only about 4.6 million.

Of course, on St. Patrick’s Day, we all claim Irish ancestry, which entitles us to wear green and quaff a pint or two of Guinness. Contrary to popular belief, some Guinness is still brewed at St. James Gate in Dublin. Guinness Extra Stout sold in the US is brewed in Toronto or New Brunswick, Canada.


But perhaps there is not as much exaggeration as some might think. The most recent data for the USA on ancestry/ethnicity show Irish as the third largest group, after German and Black/African American. The numbers, in millions:

German  49.2
Black/African American  41.3
Irish  35.5
Mexican  31.8
English  26.9
American  19.9*
Italian  17.6
Polish  9.7
French  9.1  (Basque not included)
Scottish  5.7
Scotch-Irish  4.9
American Indian/Alaska Native  4.9
Dutch  4.8
Puerto Rican  4.6
Norwegian  4.6
Swedish  4.2
Chinese  3.2  (Taiwan not included)
Russian  3.1
Asian Indian  2.8
West Indian  2.6  (non-Latino)
Filipino  2.5
French Canadian  2.1
Welsh  1.9
Cuban  1.8
Salvadoran  1.7
Arab  1.6
Vietnamese  1.6
Czech  1.6
Hungarian 1.5
Portuguese  1.4
Korean  1.4
Danish  1.4
Greek  1.3

*American is a new reporting category which was intended to accommodate those whose pre-American ancestry is mixed or uncertain, but the vast majority of those reporting this category are white southerners attempting to make some sort of political statement. They are mostly Irish, English, Scottish, German.

Here is a map showing where the Irish live in the USA: