Corktown, the Irish and St. Patrick’s Day in Michigan

Saint Patrick's Day Parade

Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, photo by *Alysa*.

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you wherever you go.
~Irish Blessing

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Detroit had their parade last weekend but there are events on tap today and tomorrow in Bay City, Clare, Flint, Kalamazoo, Grand Ledge,  Saugatuck, Traverse City and Muskegon.

Ground zero for the Irish in Michigan is Corktown. Wikipedia notes that it is Detroit’s oldest neighborhood explaining:

The roots of Corktown lie in the Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s. The Irish immigrated to the United States in droves, and by the middle of the 19th century, they were the largest ethnic group settling in Detroit. Many of these newcomers settled on the west side of the city; they were primarily from County Cork, and thus the neighborhood came to be known as Corktown. By the early 1850’s, half of the population of the 8th Ward (which contained Corktown) were of Irish descent

The Corktown Historical Society has a cool slideshow of historic photos and brochure images and you might want to check out the Corktown Explorer blog.

The Irish in Michigan from Seeking Michigan has some information about Corktown but adds that:

Irish immigrants to Michigan certainly did not limit themselves to settling in the urban hub of Detroit, with many of them making their way up north. In the 1830s, Irish immigrants settled in fishing camps on Mackinac and Beaver Islands. Today, a large portion of Beaver Island’s year-round residents are of Irish descent. Wexford, Clare, Emmet and Antrim counties in the northern Lower Peninsula are all named after counties in Ireland. Irish immigrants were also instrumental to the copper mining boom in the Upper Peninsula. Nearly one-third of the area’s foreign-born population was from Ireland in 1870, though the Irish population would decline by 1920. Many small Irish communities could also be found scattered throughout the Lower Peninsula in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Wherever you are and whoever your ancestors were, here’s hoping you have a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day holiday!

Check this out bigger and in Ann Lysa’s slideshow.

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