Springtime in NYC is on its way, which means St. Patrick’s Day revelry will be in full swing across the five boroughs and a sea of people decked out in green will line Fifth Avenue for the most festive parade of the year. But Irish history in NYC goes back much deeper than a parade and a few pints. Take a trip to the Big Apple and celebrate the culture and traditions that the Irish people have bestowed upon this melting pot of cultures we call New York City.
Irish Immigrants & History
Irish immigrants started coming to America well before the 19th century but in the 19th century, due to the Great Famine, large numbers began arriving in New York, making up almost a quarter of the population of NYC at the time. Early immigrants settled in tenements on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and in Hell’s Kitchen. Pay a visit to the Tenement Museum (103 Orchard St) on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to get a sense of how new immigrants to NYC lived. You can visit recreated apartments, with artifacts and photos from former residents and get a sense of what life was like for these new arrivals.
New York City may have been the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for many immigrants including the Irish fleeing the famine in Europe, but life in a new city isn’t easy and old NYC was a rough place. If you want to learn about the fascinating history, Martin Scorsese’s Oscar nominated film Gangs of New York depicts the gang wars and dark history of the Lower East Side, Little Italy and Chinatown. InfamousNewYork.com is a website that explores the history of NYC’s underworld and gives you detailed cyber walking tour maps, buildings and addresses so you can set out on a walk and travel back in time in the footsteps of New York’s most notorious mobsters, gangsters and criminals. Film buffs can read our blog to find other iconic NYC film locations worth visiting.
You can still find hidden speakeasies and bars downtown today reminiscent of days gone by. In Greenwich Village you can find some along with other notable spots. Beauty & Essex (146 Essex St) is a working pawn shop on its face, but inside you’ll find a hidden restaurant, bar and lounge. Please Don’t Tell (113 St Mark’s Pl) is another clandestine cocktail bar in the East Village that you enter through a phone both in Crif Dogs (located next door). At The Dead Rabbit (30 Water St) in the Financial District, named after the infamous 19th-century Irish street gang, you can dig into bangers and mash or sip an Irish coffee surrounded by decor that includes old Irish caps and whiskey ads.
If the walls of this furnished alcove studio on historic Mulberry Street in Little Italy could talk, they would surely have some tales to tell about this notable area. The exposed brick walls and decorative fireplace are charming throwback features that add warmth and coziness to the space, making it feel like home. With a plethora of ethnic markets and bakeries in the area you’ll be inspired to explore the cuisines of other cultures in your fully equipped kitchen. Head outside and see if you can spot any of the old addresses that made this area infamous. Just a stone’s throw away from your building you’ll find a landmark rich in Irish heritage, St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral.
Patron Saint: St. Patrick’s Day Parade & St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Downtown in what is now Little Italy you’ll find St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral (263 Mulberry St), built before the famed cathedral on 5th Avenue. Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral is full of history, catering to poor and working class Irish immigrants in the 1800’s, the catacombs beneath it contain many noteworthy names, and it has appeared in films like The Godfather.
Make your way to Midtown and you have to stop to admire the gorgeous Gothic architecture of the grand St. Patrick’s Cathedral (5th Ave & 50th St). St. Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious celebration of the patron saint of Ireland. On March 17, 2020 the day starts off with a mass at St.Patrick’s Cathedral (a ticketed event) with the parade following at 11am. The parade route passes the cathedral as it makes its way up 5th Avenue from 44th Street to 79th Street, ending near the American Irish Historical Society on the Upper East Side.
Rent this sophisticated 1 bedroom furnished apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in a pet-friendly doorman building and you’ll be close to all the parade action with city views from your living room. You’ll also be within walking distance to the greenery of Central Park. At 80th St & 5th Ave you can visit The American Irish Historical Society, a historical center and library celebrating Irish achievements, history and culture in the USA.
In a big city it’s easy to feel a little lost without a sense of community, which is why immigrants usually tend to migrate to neighborhoods where their fellow countrymen have put down roots. You can find these ethnic neighborhoods in all the boroughs of NYC. The beauty of the melting pot culture of NYC is that here everyone can feel a sense of belonging no matter where they come from.
The Breton people of Brittany may have a French passport but they also share a Celtic heritage with a distinct language of Celtic origins. If you are a proud Breton immigrant in NY or just love Brittany, come wave your flag in kinship with your Irish brothers and sisters on this special day of Celtic celebration. For more info on joining the volunteer-run association BZH New York or marching with them in the parade, visit their website( http://bzh-ny.org/ ) .
A Piece of Ireland
In Lower Manhattan near Battery Park The Irish Hunger Memorial (75 Battery Place) is a captivating memorial of Ireland’s Great Famine. An indoor section is lined with news of the 19th century event and a reminder of the famine that still exists in the world today. The outside of the memorial recreates a piece of the Irish countryside complete with a potato field, stone walls and a stone cottage made with materials brought from Ireland as well as native plants and flowers.
Rent this stylish furnished studio apartment in Tribeca and feel the history under your feet as you stroll the cobblestoned streets. You can wander through the greenery of Battery Park, visit the memorial and see a vibrant sunset over the water. The building has a doorman and convenient gym on-site. The emerald green accent walls of the apartment are reminiscent of the Emerald Isle while the apartment is furnished with everything you need to feel at home in NYC. A fully equipped kitchen means you can stop by the local markets for ingredients to prepare your favorite Irish dish or stock the bar cart with Irish whiskey or Bailey’s Irish Cream to have a toast with friends.
Irish Food & Drinks
Celebrate the holiday and heritage at one of many Irish pubs, some have been around since the 1800’s. McSorley’s Old Ale House, established in 1854 is one of the oldest Irish taverns in NYC. Located at 15 East 7th St. in the East Village, the vibe is nostalgic and the bartenders are Irish. The walls are decorated with old newspaper articles, pictures of prominent Irish politicians, firemen’s helmets (the Irish have a long history in NYC’s fire department) and the floors are covered in sawdust. Another popular pub with a nostalgic vibe and a large selection of Irish whiskeys is The Late Late (159 East Houston St) on the Lower East Side, named after The Late Late Show, a popular talk show in Ireland, and modeled after an Irish residence circa 1960.
Irish cuisine has certainly infiltrated NYC’s food scene with Irish taverns and pubs serving up old family recipes and warming the heart. In Gramercy, stop in Molly’s Pub & Shebeen (287 3rd Ave), enjoy a few pints of Guinness with friends and feast on lamb stew, shepherd’s pie or corned beef and cabbage in a cozy booth surrounded by sawdust floors and a wood-burning fireplace.
Celtic Arts & Music
Irish arts and music have made their mark on American shores as well. While in NYC you can attend a performance of traditional Irish music and dance at Radio City Music Hall where the Irish theatrical show Riverdance performs their 25th anniversary show March 10-15th, 2020.
Irish music has influenced many other genres of music and NYC has hosted Irish musicians from U2’s sold out shows at Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden, to The Chieftains, who will perform their “Irish Goodbye” tour of Celtic and folk music at The Town Hall (123 W 43 St) on St. Patrick’s Day. St. Ann’s Warehouse (45 Water St, DUMBO) and the Irish Arts Center present Gate Theater Dublin’s performance of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet Feb 1 – Mar 8, 2020. You can find Irish music, theater, films and exhibits at the Irish Arts Center (553 W 51 St) in the historically Irish section of Manhattan known as Hell’s Kitchen.
Rent an apartment in New York City around St. Patrick’s Day or any time of the year and immerse yourself in the history, music and traditions that generations of Irish immigrants have passed down while living in this “City of Dreams”. Visit our website to browse our NYC vacation rentals or furnished rentals to find the perfect place to call home for an unforgettable trip!