Henry Grabar is a staff writer for Slate’s Moneybox and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.
The Northeast Corridor is, unsurprisingly, the promised land of Irish bars and restaurants.
The Irish like to say that Ireland's best export is its people. Over 34 million Americans claim Irish ancestry, which is more than seven times the population of Ireland.
This weekend, many of them will participate in the parades and general revelry that mark the Feast of Saint Patrick, congregating in pubs from Portland to San Diego to the 16 U.S. towns named Dublin.
But when it comes to singing "On Raglan Road," not all cities are created equal.
The data team at Triposo, a digital travel guide company, has crunched its own numbers on Irish restaurants and bars and determined the best places in the U.S. to be on Saint Patrick's Day. Not surprisingly, the whole Northeast U.S. ranks well. But the top city is Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington D.C.
The numbers approximate the percentage of bars and restaurants in the city that are Irish pubs. By combing through Open Street Map, Wikis, Facebook, and other open-source data, the algorithm selects both establishments that self-identify as Irish or Celtic and those that have spawned talk of, say, Guinness on social media. (Because of the limits of open-source data collection, it doesn't indicate that exactly one out of every four bars in Alexandria is Irish, but should be taken as a more abstract, comparative measure.)
Where shouldn't you go? While the West Coast and the South lag somewhat behind the Northeast, they seem like good enough places to drop by for a Jameson. The Midwest turns in a fine performance.
But like rainfall, Irishness seems to dry up west of the Mississippi.
Texas, in particular, looks not very green, and has three cities within the bottom ten (note that this and the other graph are not to scale; this one would fit in the bottom sixth of the above graph):
All data courtesy of Triposo. All maps by Patrick Ward.