Luck of the Irish? 1 in 6 people in this VA county have Irish roots.

St. Paddy’s Day Trivia: 1 In 6 People In This VA County Have Irish Roots

Photo courtesyof Aboodi Vesakaran via Unsplash.

By Aila Boyd

March 29, 2024

Virginia has long been associated with the Scots-Irish who settled in the region during the 1700s. Throughout the centuries, the commonwealth has continued to serve as a home for those of Irish ancestry. In fact, 9.1% of Virginians have Irish ancestry. However, one county is the most Irish, given that 16.9% of its population has Irish roots.

No matter which corner of the commonwealth you’re in, the unique culture that the early Irish settlers brought with them has survived to the modern day. If you’re looking to connect with your Irish roots or simply learn more about the history, we’ve got you covered with this guide to all things Irish in the commonwealth. 

Early settlers

Many of the Scots-Irish who settled in Virginia, specifically the greater Shenandoah Valley, in the 1700s did so for religious freedom, land, dependable access to food, and economic purposes, according to Visit Staunton.

The settlement of the area as part of the “Great Road” was encouraged by Gov. William Gooch, who thought they would act as a buffer between already settled regions and the hostile French and Native Americans. To facilitate this, the British Crown granted a 118,000-acre tract of land in 1736, which came to be known as “The Irish Tract.”

Rappahannock County

Rappahannock County is unique in the sense that it has maintained a sizable population of those with Irish ancestry. In fact, 16.9% of the county of roughly 7,348 is of Irish ancestry. Still to this day, the county maintains much of the same rural and agricultural qualities that it had when Scots-Irish settlers from west of the Blue Ridge moved into the area. 

Frontier Culture Museum

Those looking to get a taste of authentic old-world Irish living should consider visiting the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton. The museum has two exhibits on Irish life, including “Irish Forge, 1750s” and “Ireland, 1750s.”

The “Irish Forge, 1750s” exhibit is of a blacksmith shop that stood in County Fermanagh in the Irish province of Ulster, now in Northern Ireland. The exhibit features period-clad blacksmiths who demonstrate the methods that were used in the 18th century to make various items. 

The Irish Farm that is part of the “Ireland, 1750s” exhibit originally stood in County Tyrone in modern-day Northern Ireland. Museum guides in authentic dress demonstrate what life would have been like on a 1750s Irish farm.

The exhibit focuses on Irish Protestants from Ulster, often called Scots-Irish, who started moving to the American colonies in 1718. By the time of the American Revolution, more than 100,000 Ulster immigrants had arrived in America.

“Due to their numbers, they emerged as the dominant cultural group in the backcountry and they shaped frontier culture in many different ways as in architecture, language, music, education, religion, and in libation through the introduction of whiskey,” the museum said. 

St. Paddy’s Day Trivia: 1 In 6 People In This VA County Have Irish Roots

Photo courtesy of Frontier Culture Museum.

Irish pubs

The Irish are known for their love of good libations in friendly pubs. Luckily, Virginia has several pubs that channel the Irish pub tradition. 

Kelly’s Gingernut Pub

Kelly’s Gingernut Pub in Cape Charles is an interpretation of a classic Irish pub. The pub features original brick walls and floors, in addition to some Irish homey touches. Beer options include both domestic and foreign varieties. “Enjoy a glass of wine in the patio area or head inside and upstairs to the loft area for a great view from the tables at the top of the winding spiral staircase,” the pub said. You can’t go wrong with a Guinness stout, a classic dry stout from Dublin. Those looking for a bite to eat with their beer should consider ordering a Finns pub burger. It comes with Irish cheddar, lettuce, onion, and tomato, along with a choice of side. 

St. Paddy’s Day Trivia: 1 In 6 People In This VA County Have Irish Roots

Photo courtesy of Kelly’s Gingernut Pub via Facebook.

Red Dragon Brewery

Although the Red Dragon Brewery logo features the national flag of Wales, it also leans heavily into Irish culture because of the owner’s heritage. One of its mottos is a quote from Irish poet William Butler Yeats: “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet.” As the brewery puts it, “Our love of beer is what drives our passion to offer uncompromising quality in our products. We produce world class beer using only the finest ingredients and unwavering commitment to excellence.” In honor of where the brewery is based, give the Fredericksburg lager a try. 

St. Paddy’s Day Trivia: 1 In 6 People In This VA County Have Irish Roots

Photo courtesy of Red Dragon Brewery.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Luck of the Irish? 1 in 6 people in this VA county have Irish roots.Luck of the Irish? 1 in 6 people in this VA county have Irish roots.

  • Aila Boyd

    Aila Boyd is a Virginia-based educator and journalist. She received her MFA in writing from Lindenwood University.



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