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Census: Some area municipalities have a sea of green

More than a third of people in number of region’s towns have Irish ancestry, census says.

Irish flag banners purchased and hung by the Avoca Ancient Order of Hibernians fly on Main Street in Avoca during the month of March.


If there’s luck in being Irish, there should be plenty of good fortune to go around in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Some towns in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties can boast Irish-American populations two to three times the national average per capita rate.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 34.7 million U.S. residents claimed Irish ancestry in 2010. This number was more than seven times the population of Ireland itself (4.58 million). Irish was the nation’s second most frequently reported ancestry, trailing only German.

A look at the numbers shows that 11.2 percent of U.S. residents claimed Irish ancestry in the Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey.

Luzerne County boasts an estimated Irish-American population of 63,846 – about 20 percent of the county’s approximately 320,000 residents.

Lackawanna County’s percentage is even higher, with 58,615 or 27.4 percent of its approximately 214,000 residents claiming Irish ancestry.

Irish-Americans are the top ethnic group in Lackawanna County, with Italians, Germans, Polish and English respectively rounding out the top five.

Irish ancestry trails only Polish in Luzerne County, with about 75,000 Polish-Americans making up 23.5 percent of the county population.

Residents of German, Italian and English descent, respectively, fill in the remaining top five ancestries in the county.

The largest concentrations of Irish can be found in the biggest cities and towns, with an estimated 9,075 in Wilkes-Barre comprising 21.8 percent of the city’s nearly 42,000 residents, and 23,274 in Scranton – 30.6 percent of Scranton’s 76,000 residents.

Small-town concentrations

But some of the smaller municipalities in both counties have even greater concentrations of Irish-Americans.

More than a third of the people living in Sugar Notch and Hughestown in Luzerne County and Carbondale, Clarks Green and Clarks Summit and the townships of Carbondale, Glenburn and Roaring Brook in Lackawanna County have Irish ancestry.

The top 10 towns for Irish-Americans per capita in Luzerne County are:

• Sugar Notch – 35.4 percent

• Hughestown – 35.2 percent

• Forty Fort – 31.0 percent

• Avoca – 30.4 percent

• Black Creek Twp. – 29.9 percent

• Pittston – 29.9 percent

• Pittston Twp. – 27.1 percent

• Bear Creek Twp. – 26.4 percent

• Fairview Twp. – 25.2 percent

• Nuangola – 25.2 percent

The top 10 towns for Irish-Americans per capita in Lackawanna County are:

• Carbondale Twp. – 38.0 percent

• Glenburn Twp. – 36.2 percent

• Carbondale – 36.0 percent

• Clarks Green – 33.9 percent

• Roaring Brook Twp. – 33.8 percent

• Clarks Summit – 33.5 percent

• Dunmore – 32.2 percent

• Abington Township – 31.1 percent

• Dalton – 30.3 percent

• LaPlume Township – 30.3 percent

Other Irish statistics:

• 17.8 percent of Pennsylvania’s 12.6 million residents have Irish roots.

• 144,588 – The number of Irish-born naturalized U.S. residents.

• 33 percent – Percentage of people of Irish ancestry, 25 or older, who had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2010. In addition, 92.5 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 28.2 percent and 85.6 percent, respectively.

• $56,363 – Median income for households headed by an Irish-American, higher than the $50,046 for all households. In addition, 6.9 percent of households of Irish ancestry were in poverty, lower than the rate of 11.3 percent for all Americans.

• 41 percent – Percentage of employed civilian Irish-Americans 16 or older who worked in management, professional and related occupations. Additionally, 26.3 percent worked in sales and office occupations; 15.7 percent in service occupations; 9.2 percent in production, transportation and material moving occupations; and 7.8 percent in construction, extraction, maintenance and repair occupations.

• 70 percent – Percentage of householders of Irish ancestry who owned the home in which they live, with the remainder renting. For the nation as a whole, the homeownership rate was 65.4 percent.

Some towns in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties can boast Irish-American populations two to three times the national average per capita rate.

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