When looking for the Irish influence in each city I've been in so far, the first thing I notice is a token Irish bar. There were several in Portland and Seattle. It doesn't mean these bars are necessarily owned by Irish people, but they all play trad music, and embrace the Irish influence. As much as it's a novelty it's impressive to see our music, atmosphere and craic is so popular around the world.
Seattle has a thriving GAA scene with football and hurling, men and women. I was in contact with a man named John Keane who is so proud of the Irishness in Seattle that he has written a book about it. He is also heavily involved with the Irish Heritage Club in Seattle. Unfortunately I didn't get to meet John as he was headed for Ireland with a group of 80 including the Mayor of Seattle. They are visiting Dublin and Galway so keep an eye out for them!
Victoria was different however. Victoria is a small town on Vancouver Island, and the moment I arrived there I felt like I was in Galway. It's a tourist harbour town with cute streets. I wasn't surprised to see an Irish pub straight away (owned by a Scottish man). I was surprised to see two shops on the main street, Government Street.
The first is called the Irish Linen Store. I was as surprised as you, thinking who buys Irish linen in Canada?! I ventured in and was greeted by a lovely woman from Galway. She explained the shop is open since 1917! It was opened by an Irish lady who married a Canadian and never went home. This lady also married a Canadian and moved to Victoria. She loves it there, and travels back to Ireland regularly as she buys for the store. Small world.
The second store is only 10 years old and is called Out of Ireland. When I first stopped it I thought it was a gimmicky store, turns out I was wrong. This store sells high quality items that literally have come out of Ireland (think Newbridge silver, Kilkenny glass, Barry's Teabags!! etc.) it was opened up by Therese, originally from Newry who also married a Canadian and moved to Victoria. They employ two young Irish women in the store.
I haven't had to look far for the Irish influence here in America and Canada. Speaking to Americans they all claim to be Irish, I'd take that with a pinch of salt! However it's heart warming that people want to Irish. They want to be connected to Ireland, to the music, the craic, the sport, the heritage, the products. For a little country like ours, it's humbling and makes me appreciate the beautiful country I was born in.