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Green water in the fountains of Savannah, Georgia, at Saint Patrick’s Day



It’s no secret that St. Patrick’s Day is kind of a big deal in Savannah. The city hosts the second largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration and parade in the country. But the party doesn’t stop when the green parade is over. Savannah is home to many residents of Irish descent. Read on for four fun facts you never knew about the city’s Irish history.

The Irish Were One of the First to Arrive to Savannah

While Savannah was established as an English colony and many Georgians claim English descent, the second leading country that Georgians claim ancestry from is Ireland. Some of the first ships to transport settlers to the new colony in 1734 came from Ireland. In addition, at least nine of the first Georgia colonists to be granted land were Irish.

Potato Famine Caused an Influx

In 1845, a potato famine hit Ireland hard, sparking fear of starvation thanks to the loss of one-third of Ireland’s staple food product. The Irish fled, willing to put in any work they could to find stability. At the time, Georgia was booming with work needed for building canals and railroads. Many workers of Irish descent settled in Savannah neighborhoods.

Savannah Remained a Port City Open to the Irish

The Civil War and Industrial War moved many people into larger U.S. cities for factory work, but almost too much. Large cities like New York and Boston started to turn away the Irish at the ports to keep jobs for native-born Americans. However, Savannah remained open to all, and welcomed the Irish to join its workforce for agriculture, shipping, and railroad industries. 

Emmet Park Was Formerly “The Irish Green”

The park at the head of downtown Savannah was once known as the Irish Green, thanks to its close proximity to the Old Fort neighborhood that was home to many Irish folks. In 1902, the park was named after and dedicated to Irish patriot Robert Emmet who made a big splash in Savannah. Today you can visit the park and pay respects at the memorial, in the form of a stone Celtic cross.

Celebrate Savannah’s Irish history with the many gatherings and activities that take place throughout the year, including the upcoming Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade. For more fun facts and things to do, check out our blog.