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If you ever wondered who the most popular Irish figure in America is wonder no more.

An IrishCentral  readership survey of over 2,000 respondents  was conducted by,  Ireland’s leading market research company.

The results were fascinating.

Out of  a list of well known Irish figures in the U.S., Liam Neeson tops the poll as the person of whom Irish Americans are most proud of as representative of modern Ireland (84%).

  Liam is followed by Maureen O’Hara (82%) Pierce Brosnan (77%), Daniel Day Lewis (75%) and Bono (72%).

Neeson’s dignified battle after the tragic death of his wife Natasha in a skiing accident and his work ethic despite his tragedy has clearly won him big fans.

Other findings were as follows:

90% plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, one in two (48%) will spend it with a mix of friends and family.

Close to seven in ten (69%) will celebrate with a special dinner among friends or family.

Debunking the myths of some, St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. is not just about parades, green rivers, drinking and merrymaking; three in five (59%) will celebrate the religious significance of the feast day.  Of these, just over one quarter (will attend mass.

70% of respondents have visited Ireland and 22% plan to visit this year and three in five (61%) will stay between 1 and 2 weeks.

89% will fly directly from the United States.

The main motivation for visiting is to ‘explore the country and see the sites’ (69%) and half will visit relatives.

38% will try to trace their ancestry while in Ireland.

In 2011, U.S. accents will be heard in Dublin (65%), Galway (55%), Cork (44%) and Donegal (31%).  U.S. visitors are least likely to target Westmeath as a stop-off point (1%)!!!

A third of respondents believe that Riverdance is most symbolic of modern Ireland while 23% agree that the Galway Arts Festival does so.

Just 3% of Irish Americans/Irish living in the U.S. own property here, but a further 33% would be interested in buying property here.

 For 53% of these, the main motivation would be to have a property available for personal and family vacations.

Three in five (61%) would be interested in buying a house and of these 45% would be specifically interested in a cottage.  One quarter (24%) would be interested in a country house.

Galway (15%), Kerry (11%), Cork (10%), Clare, Donegal and Dublin (each at 9%) are the locations they would ideally like to buy in.

56% would prefer a rural to an urban or suburban setting.

More than two-thirds (77%) of those already retired would consider spending some of their retirement time in Ireland.  Of these, 56% would like to spend part of the year in Ireland and part of the year in the U.S. (rather than the entire time or a number of consecutive years in Ireland).

Visit our special St. Patrick's Day section

Visit Liam Neeson's profile page