Failte Irish American Hall of Fame

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Building America’s Cities

Mayor Richard J. DaleyIrish immigration to the U.S. reached its peak in 1891 at 1.8 million.  By the end of the 20th century 10.8% of the U.S. population will claim Irish ancestry.  Clearly the Irish left their rural roots behind and assimilated into America’s cities.  By 2000, states with the largest Irish population include New York, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Florida.   
Politics continued to be the predominant “business” for Irish Americans.  There seemed to be a particular talent for running America’s great cities.  John Thomas Browne of County Limerick, served as the Mayor of Houston, Texas.  New York’s Irish Mayors included James Duane, William Jay Gaynor, Thomas F. Gilroy, William R. Grace, Hugh J. Grant, John F. Hylan, John Purroy Mitchel, John P. O'Brien, William O'Dwyer, Jimmy Walker and Robert F. Wagner Jr.   Boston’s Mayors included Hugh O’Brien, Patrick Collins, Daniel Whelton, John Fitzgerald, James Curley, James Kerrigan, John Hynes, John Collins and Raymond Flynn.  Chicago’s Irish Mayors included Edward F. Dunne, William E. Dever, Edward J. Kelly, Martin J. Kennelly, Richard J. Daley, Jane Byrne and Richard M. Daley.  Interestingly, San Francisco Mayor Frank McCoppin of County Longford, Ireland was not only the first Irish Mayor of San Francisco, but was the first Irish Mayor elected in the U.S.

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