Famous Philadelphia Irish Americans

The history of Irish immigration to Pennsylvania is a story played out in many major American cities during the latter half of the 19th century.  Facing starvation and economic depression in Ireland as a result of the Potato Famine, tens of thousands of Irishmen immigrated to Philadelphia within the span of a few years.  They took whatever low-skilled jobs they could find along canals and railroads and in mills and factories.

Irish immigrants settled into the Philadelphia neighborhoods of Kensington and Southwark, and their population grew so rapidly that Irish immigrants quickly exceeded any other immigrant group in Philadelphia.  Over time, the Philadelphia Irish grew in social standing, gained political power, and became an accepted and admired segment of Philadelphia society.  Considering the great Irish history in Philadelphia, it’s no wonder there are so many great Philadelphia Irish Americans who rose to fame.  The following is a list of famous Irish Americans from Philadelphia.

Also See:
Bradley Cooper
Bob McAllister | Television personality and magician who hosted the popular children’s TV show Wonderama

Bianca Ryan | Singer and guitarist who won the debut season of NBC's America's Got Talent

Bradley Cooper | Film, theater, and TV actor known for his roles in the films The Hangover, The A-Team, and Limitless

Brian Tierney | Advertising and public relations executive and publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer

Charles Thomson | Secretary of the Congress from 1774 to 1789 who read the Declaration before the Congress for the first time and notified George Washington of his election to the presidency in 1789

Connie Mack
Chris Matthews | News anchor, political commentator, and host of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews

Connie Mack | Professional baseball player, manager, and team owner who was the longest-serving manager in Major League Baseball history, managing the Philadelphia Athletics for the club's first 50 seasons

Daniel "Danny" O'Leary | Philadelphia mobster involved in bootlegging throughout Prohibition

Ethel Barrymore
Ethel Barrymore | Actress and member of the Barrymore family of actors who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1944 film None but the Lonely Heart

Fergy Malone | Professional baseball player in the 1860s and 1870s who was the catcher for Athletic of Philadelphia in 1871, when they became champion of the first professional league season

Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran | Former labor union official in Philadelphia who operated as a freelance assassin for the Genovese crime family

Franklin Benjamin Gowen | President of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad in the 1870s and 1880s

George Edward Kelly | Playwright, screenwriter, director, and actor who was best known for The Torch-Bearers (1922) and The Show-Off (1924) and who was the uncle of actress Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly | Famous 1950s actress who became The Princess of Monaco when she married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco

Henry Plumer McIlhenny | Connoisseur of art and antiques who became the chairman of the Philadelphia Art Museum

Jamie Kennedy | Comedian, rapper, and actor who has starred in the CBS drama Ghost Whisperer

James Logan | Politician who served as secretary to William Penn, mayor of Philadelphia, acting governor, and chief justice of Pennsylvania

Jeanette MacDonald
Jeanette MacDonald | Singer and actress of 1930s musical films who sold numerous gold records and appeared in several Oscar-nominated movies

Jim McKay | Television sports journalist who hosted ABC's Wide World of Sports and provided coverage of 12 Olympic Games, most notably the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics

Jocko Fields | 19th Century Major League Baseball player for the Philadelphia Phillies

John Barry | Officer in the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War who is considered "The Father of the American Navy"

John Drew Barrymore | Actor and member of the Barrymore family of actors who is the father of John Blyth Barrymore and Drew Barrymore

John Joseph Hughes | Philadelphia priest who later became archbishop of New York and the force behind the building of a new cathedral in 1858

John Joseph O'Connor | Archbishop of New York who was later named a Catholic cardinal

Kate Flannery | Actress best known for playing the role of Meredith Palmer on the NBC hit series The Office

Kevin Bacon | Oscar- and Emmy-nominated film and theater actor whose notable roles include Footloose, A Few Good Men, and Mystic River

Kim Delaney | Actress best known for her starring role on the ABC drama television series, NYPD Blue

Lionel Barrymore
Lionel Barrymore | Actor of stage, screen and radio best known for his Oscar-winning performance in A Free Soul (1931) and his villainous role in Frank Capra's film, It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Michael Connelly | Award-winning author of detective novels and crime fiction best known for his books featuring LAPD Detective Harry Bosch and criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller

Mike Douglas | Big Band era singer, entertainer, and television talk show host best known for The Mike Douglas Show

Paul McCrane | Film, television and theatre actor best known for his roles in the movie Fame (1980) and the NBC medical drama television series ER

Peter Boyle | Actor best known for his roles in the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond and the Mel Brooks' film Young Frankenstein (1974)

Samuel Barber
Pink | Pop music singer-songwriter and musician whose first single peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100

Rob McElhenney | Film and television actor best known for his role as Mac on the FX TV series It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Samuel Barber | Pulitzer Prize-winning composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music best known for his Adagio for Strings, his opera Vanessa, and his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

Tug McGraw | Major League Baseball relief pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies and father of Country music singer, Tim McGraw, best remembered for pitching the final out in the 1980 World Series

W.C. Fields
Walt Kelly | Animator and cartoonist best known for creating the comic strip, Pogo

W. C. Fields | Comedian, actor, and writer best known for his 1930s films in which he played a misanthropic and hard-drinking egotist

William Michael Harnett | Painter best known for his trompe l'oeil still life paintings of ordinary objects