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Buffalo's Irish heritage, culture in focus on St. Patrick's Day

Buffalo ranks high among cities in its percentage of residents of Irish lineage.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Beginning Friday, Irish eyes will be smiling in Buffalo and across the country for St. Patrick's Day.

Buffalo has one of the largest St. Patrick's Day parades in the country.

In fact, it has two of them.

Buffalo is the 80th largest city in the nation by population.

However, when it comes to the percentage of residents of of Irish decent,  it ranks fifth, even higher New York or Chicago.

Most know many of the Irish who came here in the early 19th century found work building the Erie Canal, and that many people settled in South Buffalo, where even today, amid the Irish flags flying along Abbott Road, street signs appear in Gaelic.

"There's groups that embrace the culture and the heritage around this city," Dan O'Sullivan of the United Irish American Association told 2 On Your Side. "Places like the Irish Center have a cultural learning center and a library with the old Gaelic books. Between the street signs, the traditional language still spoken, and the (Irish) dancing, these traditions have been really embraced throughout this community."

O'Sullivan says while the contributions of Irish Americans are significant, they are perhaps no more or no less significant than those of the Poles, Germans, Italians, and African Americans who found their way over the years to Buffalo.

He also believes that taking time each year to celebrate each of various cultural groups and their heritage makes the community that much stronger. 


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