Where do you think is the most Irish place in America?

Scituate, a pleasant seaside town thirty miles from Boston, was named the most Irish town in the United States, according to the 2010 U.S census.

All in all, 16 communities within the South Shore neighborhoods of Boston have the highest percentage of people of Irish descent in the United States.

Top of the list is Scituate, where almost 50 percent of residents are of Irish descent. At least 44 percent of the population in Braintree, Hull, Marshfield, Avon, Pembroke, and Milton claim Irish ancestry also, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Scituate, on Cape Cod bay, is close to Plymouth Rock where the Mayflower arrived. It has a population of a little over 17,000.

The data shows that the South Shore's "Irish Riviera" hasn't significantly changed since the last census in 1990.

Irish Americans continue to dominate the large majority of suburban Boston.

According to the 2005-2009 American Community Survey, 19 of the top-20 most Irish communities in Massachusetts are south of Boston.

A decade ago there were similar results. These same towns were among the top Irish-American communities in the state of Massachusetts, according to the 2000 census.

Richard Finnegan, professor of political science and director of Irish studies at Stonehill College maintains that the South Shore has long been home to a large Irish community.

The migration of Irish families from Boston to the South Shore dates back to the end of World War II and continued through the 1950s and 60s.

Professor Finnegan says that many gravitated towards the South Shore because of geography.

"If you live in Dorchester or Hyde Park, you don’t think of moving to Swampscott,’’ he said. “Where will I move if I can get ahead and move up the social ladder? Quincy, Weymouth, and down the South Shore," he told the Boston Globe.

He added that for many of the Irish in South Boston, Hyde Park, and Dorchester, their natural migration was to move south, because that’s where they went in the summer.

“When you’re on the south side [of the city] and looking to rent a beach house for a few weeks, you go to the South Shore,’’ he said.

This same pattern continues today. “Families move where their family and friends are,’’ said Finnegan.

Most-Irish communities named

(The top 16 are all south of Boston)


47.5 Scituate
46.5 Braintree
45.8 Hull
45.6 Marshfield
44.9 Avon
44.9 Pembroke
44.6 Milton
44.5 Abington
44.3 Whitman
44.2 Hanover
43.4 Weymouth
43.0 Walpole
42.2 Holbrook
41.4 Duxbury
41.2 Norwell
40.8 Hanson
17.4 Boston
23.7 Massachusetts

Source: US Census Bureau, 2005-2009 American Community Survey.

* Originally published Jan 2011, updated in 2022.