When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, no one does it like Massachusetts.
From performances by the Dropkick Murphys to the parade in Southie, Boston puts on a St. Patrick’s Day spectacle that outshines even Dublin itself. St. Patrick’s Day zeal comes as no surprise to natives of the Bay State, where Irish heritage of some kind is claimed by over 20% of residents, the highest concentration in the nation.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day — and the conveniently timed Evacuation Day holiday, which Boston stages on the same day to celebrate the exit of British troops from the city — NerdWallet has put together a list of the Most Irish places in Massachusetts, according to U.S. Census Bureau data on Irish heritage.
We examined over 86 places in Massachusetts. Towns with populations of less than 10,000 weren’t included.
The most Irish places in Massachusetts
Weymouth claims not only the mantle of the No. 1 most Irish place in Massachusetts, it’s also No. 10 in the nation. The town is known for its celebrated former residents — ranging from pro-football players to politicians and even “The Daily Show” correspondents. Irish immigrants who settled in Weymouth in the 20th century helped support the town’s shoe-making industry, which at one point employed 80% of residents. Today, the town is a sizable bedroom community for residents who commute to work in Boston.
Birthplace of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, Braintree traces its history to 1640. In 2008, Braintree was incorporated, and the city now has about 36,000 residents. Braintree, a Weymouth neighbor, falls just short of the most Irish place in the state, with 42.4% of residents claiming Irish ancestry.
Abington, which is tied for second in the share of residents who claim Irish ancestry, is known for its Irish Pride. The town has hosted a popular St. Patrick’s Day parade for the past 35 years. The tradition is such an important part of the town that the parade’s starting point at Abington Center is affectionately nicknamed St. Patrick’s Square.
At least 40.1% of residents claim Irish ancestry in the small town of Hull, which is in Plymouth County — home to Scituate, the self-proclaimed Irish Riviera. People in Hull celebrate with Irish step dancing at the annual Mad Hatter’s Ball or at the Scituate St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Milton is widely known for its high quality of life, as well as its rich history. Former residents range from former president George H.W. Bush to Ron Tynan, a member of the Irish Tenors. Our analysis found that 39.7% of residents have Irish roots.
Dedham demonstrates its Irish pride in a very unique way: a literary themed race. In the annual James Joyce Ramble, participants are treated to costumed actors reciting the works of Joyce as they run in a 10k fun run.
Wakefield, similar to Weymouth, is a historic town that saw its first Irish residents arrive with the rapid industrialization in the 19th century. Nowadays, its carefully preserved historic buildings are home to Boston commuters. Those looking for Irish flair can visit Harrington’s Pub, a celebrated local pub known to host Irish dancing by groups such as Irishsetdancing.org.
Only 10 miles north of Boston, Reading is home to a host of historic buildings, including Parker Tavern and the Stephen Hall House. In the town of 25,000 residents, 35.6% are of Irish descent.
Wilmington, Reading’s neighbor and rival, makes our list with just a 0.1% difference between the two places when it comes to residents with Irish heritage. Nearby Irish pubs include Waxy O’Connors and Emerald Rose.
Rounding out our top 10 is Melrose, where over a third of residents claim Irish descent. Like many places on our list, the city saw rapid growth during the industrialization of the 19th century.
Check out this interactive map of NerdWallet’s top 10 most Irish places in Massachusetts. Click on an icon to see the percentage of residents with Irish ancestry.
Most Irish places in Massachusetts (full data)
|Rank||Location||Percentage of residents with Irish heritage|
For this study, residents who listed “Irish” or “Scottish-Irish” were counted as “Irish.” Only places with populations of 10,000 or over were ranked.