Irish Renaissance in Seattle

  • By John Keane
  • Posted 1/01/1998
  • Essay 2204
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Until a few years ago, the numbers of young Irish-born people annually migrating to Seattle had increased substantially, attracted by its hip reputation and lifestyle as well as the employment opportunities. Because of boom times in Ireland, the numbers of incoming young Irish have since dropped to a trickle, but the number of establishments in Seattle catering to people interested in "things Irish" continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

Most people would agree that the first genuine Irish Pub in Seattle to cater specifically to the young Irish was Murphy’s in the Wallingford district in the late 1970s. [Note: let us not forget Mick McHugh's many fine establishments past and present, Conor Byrne's namesake pub in old Ballard, and Kells in Pike Place Market -- ed.]. In 1999, there are over a dozen such saloons and eateries which claim the "genuine Irish" title, and more are coming.

To conclude, Seattle’s Irish links may not be as obvious as in larger U.S. cities because of the smaller numbers of Irish-born people here, but this is more than compensated for by the involvement and enthusiasm of those interested in maintaining and strengthening the links that do exist. Having lived in and visited many different cities in the US with much larger "Irish" populations, I can honestly say that the Irish spirit in Seattle is alive and well, and that there need be very few twinges of anxiety about the future of Seattle's Irish community.


John Keane was President of the Irish Heritage Society.

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