Celebrate Kansas City’s Irish Heritage

The Irish who immigrated to America often did so to join friends and family already in the United States. Many of those settlements were in Boston, New York and Chicago.

Kelly's Westport Inn is located in the oldest building in Kansas City.But those without ties to an established Irish-American community, those who could be considered a little more rough and tumble, often continued to roam, explore and eventually settled in Missouri. Irish are the second largest immigrant group to settle in Missouri, second only to Germans.

Irish in Kansas City

Yessiree, all the bad boy Irish landed here in fly-over country. About 13 percent of the state’s population claim Irish roots. In the Kansas City area, one in eight residents report green lineage. Of course, we’re all a little green around the gills on St. Patrick’s Day.

At one time, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Kansas City was the third largest in the country, stretching more than two miles with more than 400,000 spectators. But for a couple of years the celebration was a bit too passionate and city leaders suggested that maybe the parade not be so big for a while.

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Browne’s Irish Deli in Kansas City

Browne's Irish Deli in Kansas City is the oldest Irish owned business in the United States.Many are often surprised to learn that Browne’s Irish Deli is the oldest family-owned Irish business in the North America. The Flavin Family family first settled in Kansas City from County Kerry Ireland and opened this market at 33rd and Pennsylvania in 1887. A descendant generations later married a Browne and there you go.

Browne’s imports a number of grocery items directly from the Mother Land, such as black and white pudding, meat pies and Irish sausage. On St. Patrick’s Day, they open at 6 a.m. to serve an Irish breakfast, but come any time of the year for an authentic slice of green. Whiskey tastings, Irish music lessons and more fill the little building throughout the year.

Irish Traditions and Genealogy

Exhibits at the Irish Museum and Cultural Center in Kansas City.The Irish Museum and Cultural Center offers another dose of green. Take Irish flute lessons, Gaelic language classes, or learn a bit about Celtic cooking.

The museum collection includes silk vestments from the Ancient Order of Hibernian that dates to 1884. There’s a Belfast family Bible from the 1860s. Genealogy experts are available with data banks and other resources to help those of all ancestry to trace their family lineage. The museum is a member of the Origins Network, a specialized database for searching Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh records.

Irish dancers at the Irish Festival in Kansas City.And then plan to come back to Kansas City on Labor Day weekend. Join nearly 50,000 people for the Kansas City Irish Fest. The fountains at Crown Center run green that week, as will your blood as the luck of the Kansas City Irish takes hold.

Finally, if you would like to visit the Emerald Isle on your own, check in with my friend Jody Halsted. She is an expert in all things Ireland, who can help you plan that dream green vacation.

Are you Kansas City Irish?