It is remarkable that 70-80 million people worldwide claim Irish identity, 40 million of those in the United States. Yet, just over six million people live on the island of Ireland. For a relatively small piece of earth, these are extraordinary statistics. The Irish have moved across the planet, both willingly and unwillingly for centuries, creating a rich and diverse group of people claiming Irish identity.
Diaspora is a fancy word but all it really means is the "dispersion of a group of people from their homeland." Research conducted by Professors Liam Kennedy and Madeline Lyes distinguished five different groups of diaspora members: Lived, Ancestral, Next Generation, Returning, and Affinity Diaspora ("Local Diaspora Toolkit," 10). The largest demographics are by far the Lived Diaspora and the Ancestral Diaspora.
There are a lot of people who claim Irish identity without knowing who their Irish relative is or where they were originally located. With the dramatic increase in DNA testing, the above numbers (70-80 million & 40 million respectively) are likely to increase.
What does being Irish mean to you?