Today, it is not easy to define accurately what is meant by Irish American. It's ethnic identity has become blurred through the generations. This is especially so for later or 3th and 4th generations of Irish immigrants. Intermarriage between cultures has played a major role in the blurring of Irish ethnic lines. The process of assimilating into American culture that has become a melting pot of cultures, has also been facilitated by the great migration in recent decades of the Irish to escape economic hardships. Greater membership of the Irish from Catholic parochial schools to multicultural public school system has played a significant role as well. Today, as many as 38,760,000 Americans claim Irish ancestry according to the 1990 census. Among these immigrants and their ancestors there is still great pride and a certain prestige in being Irish
Ireland's cultural heritage, with its diverse customs, traditions, folklore, mythology, music, and dance, is one of the richest and distinctive, however, much of this heritage has become loss, obsolete or, only vaguely perceived. With the Irish immigration and the extensive assimilation into American culture there has been a decline in continuity and appreciation of the true cultural heritage of Ireland. All the same, there exist many elements in the Irish American culture today.
Generations of Irish immigrants brought with them the traditions of music and songs, which have played a decisive role in the development of America's folk and country music. Elements of traditional Irish ballads introduced during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are easily apparent in many American old folk songs throughout the history of our country. Irish fiddle music of this period is an important root of American country music. This earlier music became part of a rural tradition. Much of what was carried to America by the great waves of Irish immigration during the nineteenth century, on the other hand, became an important facet of America's urban folk scene. With the folk music revival of the 1960s came a heightened appreciation of Irish music in both its American and home-grown forms.
Today, Irish music is extremely popular not only among Irish American generations, but among the American population in general. Many in seeking to learn about their Irish heritage learn to play Irish instruments as the pipes, tin whistle, flute, fiddle, concertina, harp, and the bodhrá or Irish drums.