President Obama has the luck of the Irish

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President Barack Obama has described himself as a “mutt” before, usually when describing the kind of dog he wants. When asked, Obama replied “A mutt like me.” Part of Obama’s appeal is the idea that he is multi-racial, thus he transcended the traditional ideas of what is black and white and in-between. So is it such a surprise that Obama has a wee bit o’ Irish in him?

The folks at did the research, and found that Obama’s ancestral links to The Kearneys, a family of cobblers in Moneygall, Ireland. Many of The Kearneys immigrated to America in the 1840s, and one of them, Fulmouth Kearney, ended up being Obama’s great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather. And the president still has relatives in town too! There’s some guy claiming to be his eighth cousin in Moneygall, Ireland. The man’s friends even tell him there’s a family resemblance. The Los Angeles Times has more:

Until recently, Moneygall’s most famous son wasn’t even human. It was a horse, Papillon, who streaked to the title as a long shot in a nail-biter at Britain’s prestigious Grand National race in 2000. But for months now, the modest sign marking Papillon’s achievement has been muscled aside by pictures celebrating the new hero in this tiny pit stop on the Dublin-to-Limerick road: President Obama — or, as they like to call him here, Barack O’Bama.

An out-of-the-blue call from the United States, some yellowing church records and an iPhone-toting priest have earned bragging rights for Moneygall as the “ancestral home” — one of them, anyway — of the leader of the free world.

How the family connection came about is the quintessential story of America as a nation of immigrants and Ireland as a land that supplied them, including Obama’s great-great-great-granddaddy on his mother’s side, a cobbler from Moneygall. How the tie was unearthed more than 100 years later and how news of it spread across the globe is a testament to 21st century instant communication, Obama’s star power in Europe and the natural gregariousness of the Irish. Since the discovery of its link to Obama a little less than two years ago, Moneygall (population 298) has been catapulted out of its sleepy backwater and into the international spotlight.

Camera crews from distant countries flocked to the village during the U.S. presidential race, eager to capture reaction at the neighborhood pub, between pints of Guinness, to Obama’s primary and election victories. “There’s No One as Irish as Barack Obama,” an infectious song by a Limerick-based band, became a YouTube sensation and landed the group a recording contract.

Moneygall’s merchants, including the glazier and a plumbing company, have happily seized the opportunity for some self-promotion, plastering Obama’s face on their ads. Tourists from France and Germany have stopped by to pay their respects. A politician, meanwhile, wants to erect an Obama heritage center. It’s the most attention ever lavished on the village, where you can find two pubs, a small general store, an ice cream vendor, a car dealership and a single traffic signal, if you don’t blink.

Many of the visitors knock on the door of Henry Healy Jr., 24, the genial spokesman of Obama’s current-day Irish kin. According to local records, Healy’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-aunt was Obama’s great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother.

“So there’s a definitive blood link between our family and Barack Obama. It makes
me an eighth cousin,” declared Healy, a full-blooded Irishman with brown hair and blue eyes.

“The resemblance is uncanny,” his friend Stephen Neill added.

“Uncanny,” agreed Healy.

[From The Los Angeles Times]

The LAT story is really long, but it’s a pretty good read if you like funny stories about how the Irish are “claiming” Barack O’Bama. Moneygall’s Protestant rector was the one to sort through the genealogical records and come up with definitive “proof” that the President has the luck of the Irish. The rector also calls Obama “a great man of God.”

President Obama has even remarked that he would like to visit Moneygall one day, something that would please them to no end. Moneygall focused on the American elections more than they paid attention to their own.

For a really sweet St. Patrick’s Day treat, check out the music video Moneygallians Gerard, Brian and Donncha Corrigan made called “There’s No One as Irish as Barack Obama”. Sample lyric: “He’s as Irish as bacon and cabbage and stew / He’s Hawaiian, he’s Kenyan, American too.”

Here’s the president speaking in Washington DC yesterday. Images thanks to Newscom.
Obama Business Roundtable

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15 Responses to “President Obama has the luck of the Irish”

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  1. Alecto says:

    I can’t wait to point this out to all the racist around my hometown that believe that their president has only one race in his ancestry!!

  2. Trillion says:

    O’Bama. Hilarious. “Great man of God” is quite over the top but I guess they’re proud of their “own kind”.

  3. Mairead says:

    Thanks for not saying St. “Patty’s” Day Kaiser ;-) Ah Christ – it looks like my eardrums are going to be assaulted by that damn song again. :-|

    Trillion – no matter what subject or how tenuous the connection is, we’ll find it. ;-) In the past, even Ché Guevara has been claimed as “ours”(and better still, a Galway man – ;-) @ geronimo) as his Granny was Irish.

    Ireland – rabble-rousing and getting involved in North and South America since the time of Brendan the Voyager :lol:

  4. Kaiser says:

    Mairead, what’s that St. Patrick’s Day song that has the line about “my mither and fither are Irish”? I leanred it when I was a kid, and now I can’t remember it.

  5. Kaiser says:

    Actually, I “learned” it, not “lean-red” it. WTF? That’s not even Southern – that would be lernin’.

  6. Mairead says:

    K, I have no clue on God’s green earth what song that is. I’ll need more than that or a bit of a tune at least. Hum it there for me, there’s a good wummin ;-)

    I’m very wary of pub singalongs as they tend to drag out the most annoying Fenian songs. But there are some great traditional songs out there which do have a great historical resonance. Some of my picks:
    She Moved Through The Fair; The Rocks Abawn; The Foggy Dew; The Wild Rover; Whiskey on a Sunday

    In Irish:
    Amhrán Mhuinse; Cóilín Phádraig Shéamais; Pócaí Foladh is Cloigeann Tinn (but only sung by Na h-Ancaraí); An Ladhrán Trá

    (just as a by the by – I commented on this story and posted a few related links, including that cringeworthy song, at the time of the election. LA Times = Lazy Times. All they did is dust off the coverage of this then and stuck in “it’s uncanny” quote.)

  7. Mairead says:

    Kaiser, I wonder if you’re thinking of “Molly Malone”?
    She was a fishmonger; sure t’was no wonder,
    So were her father and mother before.
    They wheeled their wheelbarrow,
    Through streets broad and narrow,
    Cryin’ “Cockles and mussels, alive alive-o”

  8. Leandra says:

    This is not surprising. Mr. Obama’s mother was white and many of our ancestors came from Ireland. After all they had to come from somewhere.

  9. anastasiabeaverhausen says:

    Most of us Whiteys have some Irish in us somewhere.

    It’s funny this comes up because for the last six months, I’ve been reading nothing but Irish writers and poets. No reason in particular. Started with James Joyce and went to Edna O’Brien and of course way back I read Frank McCourt. But I wanted to read ALL of Joyce and that was pretty difficult, but I finally did it. Now I’m reading C.S. Andrew’s Dublin Made Me, which is fascinating. He was born in Dublin in 1901 and got involved in the fighting. The more I read, the more I want to read of it.

    Anywho. Cool that Obama has some sweet Erin in him.

  10. Kaiser says:

    No, Mairead, those aren’t it. Perhaps it was just some dumb song only popular in the American South, for some reason.

    O’Bama 4 Eva.

  11. nolongerhaydenfan says:

    CB: you should really post the youtube video “there’s no one as irish as Barack O’Bama” on here! lol. it was featured shortly after the election or inauguration or something.

  12. Baholicious says:

    My gran was a Fitzsimmons before she married.

  13. Headsley says:

    I read a similar story on Huffington Post that Obama is 3.1% While I think it’s nice that his roots are being acknowledged I think boasts that he’s “more Irish that Kenyan” are out of place. (I read that in another story, not here).

    There are plenty of African Americans with who have Europeans ancestry, though this is only acknowledged by non-blacks when the person is famous. A non-famous Black person who may be 16% Irish would get laughed out of the Pub by claiming he has the luck of the Irish. Quite a troubling double standard…

  14. Baholicious says:

    Well, the Irish have been known to refer to themselves as the Blacks of Europe – or has nobody seen The Commitments (“I’m Black and I’m proud!”) great film.

    The term ‘Black Irish’ is different though. Think Gabriel Byrne or Colin Farell as examples.

  15. Baholicious says:

    BTW to refer to an earlier comment about an Irish song being popular in the South, that’s because there are a lot of descendants of Scots and Irish transplants there (Hatfields and McCoys for instance; Wallace; Clancy; Daley; Campbell etc.)

    Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra and It’s A Long Way from Tipperary are popular and well known songs everywhere. They say one can’t go anywhere in the world without running into a Scotsman. The Gaels got around ;-)