By Jerry Kronenberg
If you love a good tin-whistle concert, real Irish butter or the Celtic game of hurling, consider moving to a U.S. city with a large Irish-American population. "Irish culture is very welcoming of everybody, whether you're Irish or not," says Sinead McLaughlin of the Irish Cultural Centre of New England, a popular spot with suburban Boston's big Irish-American community. Some U.S. cities' Irish populations trace their roots back as far as the 1600s, although the biggest wave of immigration came during Ireland's 1845-52 Great Famine.
More than a century later, many American communities offer a leprechaun's wealth of Irish culture, from authentic pubs and restaurants to local chapters of the Ancient Order of Hibernians social club. Irish-American groups also offer classes on everything from Gaelic to playing the Irish tin whistle or bodhran, a type of drum. Many communities even have leagues to play such traditional Celtic games such as hurling, which Denise Foley of IrishPhiladelphia.com describes as "a cross between hockey, lacrosse and assault with a deadly weapon."
Here's a St. Patrick's Day look at real estate and cultural offerings in the five U.S. cities the Census Bureau says have the highest percentage of Irish-American residents among metro areas with 1 million people or more. Population estimates come from the government's 2009-11 American Communities Survey, while real-estate prices come from Zillow.com's latest median-value estimates for all properties in each metro area whether for sale or not.
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By Jerry Kronenberg