California Travel Tips

Irish Eyes are Smiling in California

Published on: January 15, 2020


QUESTION: Why are Irish eyes smiling in California?

ANSWER: The U.S. has more citizens of Irish ancestry (33.3 million) than the country of Ireland (4.6 million,) and California has more citizens or Irish descent than any state in the nation, exceeding 2.5 million. While lots of Californians have reported their Irish roots to the Census Bureau, many have not.

Often overlooked, when Forbes published, “Top 10 Irish Cities in America”, not a single city in California made the list. Irish immigrants began coming to California several hundred years ago after word spread that the climate and countryside were similar to their native land. We can thank California’s Gold Rush (1848-1855) for attracting enterprising Irishmen such as Sam Brannan, believed to be the first person to become a millionaire in the wake of the Gold Rush. He owned approx. 20% of the land in San Francisco.

To this day San Francisco City Hall beams bright with green lights in March, paying homage to the city’s Irish settlers. The spectacular building sets the mood for a huge, annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival.

Each March Irish men, women and children throughout California anticipate St. Patrick’s Day celebrations honoring their heritage, culture and roots–from an island influenced by the Atlantic Ocean with milder winters and cooler summers than continental Europe. Similarly, California coastal weather is influenced by the Pacific Ocean. No wonder those Irish eyes are smiling!


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