10 countries with the most Irish emigrants

It's the luck of the Irish – or lack thereof – that they must constantly leave their shores.

Since 1800, nearly 10 million Irish have had to leave the Emerald Isle – some only temporarily, others to grow family trees in new lands.

Today, about 70 million people claim Irish heritage or ancestry worldwide, according to the Irish government – quite a number for an island of only 6 million people. The vastness of the global Irish diaspora means St. Patrick's Day is practically an international holiday, with people popping open a Guinness and celebrating from Vancouver to Auckland.

The United Kingdom, which includes Northern Ireland, has the greatest share of Irish migrants – meaning Irish citizens or those born in Ireland, according to the United Nations. The U.K has about 500,000 Irish migrants within its borders. But many times more claim Irish ancestry. While relations between the English and Irish have sometimes been tense, its clear that the Irish have influenced their neighbor. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and writer Charlotte Brontë are among many famous Britons who can claim Irish ancestry.

The United States has the second-largest Irish migrant population, housing 132,280. But the number of people claiming Irish ancestry is nearly 35 million, according to a report by Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In Australia, home to the third-largest population of Irish migrants, about 2 million people, or 10 percent of the population, said they were of Irish descent in the 2011 census. In Canada, which also has many Irish emigrants, about 13 percent of the population claims Irish roots.

Below are the countries outside of Ireland that had the most Irish migrants in 2015, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The figures take into account foreign citizens and the foreign born; the actual number of people claiming Irish history is likely much higher.

Country

Number of Irish migrants

Percent of Irish diaspora

U.K.

503,288

57.1%

U.S.

132,280

15.0%

Australia

101,032

11.5%

Canada

33,530

3.8%

Spain

14,651

1.7%

South Africa

13,009

1.5%

Germany

11,373

1.3%

France

9,828

1.1%

New Zealand

9,398

1.1%

Poland

7,592

0.9%

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report