March 18th, 2009
10:16 AM ET
13 years ago

Obama tells visiting president: I’m a little bit Irish, too

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="President Obama said he could be related to the Irish Prime Minister."]
(CNN) – Everybody’s a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but President Obama said Tuesday he could lay legitimate claim to that status — and might even have a long-lost link to that nation’s current leader.

It isn’t blarney: An ancestor of the president hailed from the Emerald Isle. While meeting with Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen at the White House on Tuesday, Obama took the chance to recognize his Irish roots, speculating on whether the two men might be distant kin.

“So before I turn it over to Taoiseach” - the Irish leader’s official title - “it turns out we have something in common,” Obama said. “He hails from county Offaly ,and it was brought to my attention on the campaign that my great-great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side came to America from a small village in this county as well. We are still speculating on whether we are related.”

Related: O'Bama's White House celebrates St. Patrick's Day

Cowen laughed and said after checking into the matter, he found that the two are not related.

“I just wanted to say that I have checked and unfortunately there are no Kearneys on the electoral register anymore in my electoral district,” Cowen said. “But if there were, I can assure you, I’d have them on my campaign team.”

On the campaign trail last year, Obama — perhaps looking for a little luck of the Irish in the midst of the epic Democratic primary battle - noted on St. Patrick’s Day that his great-great-great-grandfather Falmouth Kearney hailed from Ireland.

“My family's story is familiar to Irish Americans: a distant homeland, a journey across an ocean in search of opportunity, a determination to grab hold of hope. Another reason why the story might be familiar is that it turns out I have Irish heritage,” Obama said a year ago in Scranton, Pennsylvania. “I actually have a great-grandfather who came from Ireland and settled nearby in Ohio.”

Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. EJ (USA)

    What's even more amazing Barbara – is that he'll say all those things and then they'll be true! : )

    Aren't we all related to Jesus?

    March 17, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  2. L McGinnis

    My daughter is ChIrish (Chinese – Irish). She tells everyone's she's Irish. It's a innocent beautiful thing to be able to claim your hertiage. On Chinese New Year – she says she is Chinese. Seeing the world thru multiples...and being ABLE to state it in peace makes for a Beautiful Day. "See the world in green and blue, see China right in front of you" – U2. Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! Now go have yourself a Guiness and enjoy.

    March 17, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  3. Cashmere

    Well, I guess he would be considered "Black Irish" then? 🙂

    March 17, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  4. babs

    That's what I like about this President. Light hearted and rich in history and hard worker at the same time. Great story.

    March 17, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  5. No Hillary = No Obama

    He's a little bit of this and a little bit of that and what does it all add up to?

    March 17, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  6. Joanna

    I love Obama.

    March 17, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  7. Neil

    Oh come on... Obama is trying to have a little fun on St. Patty's Day. Everybody has a little bit of something. I'm a proud American mutt just like everyone else, there's no reason for Obama to be ashamed of that. Nice work thus far O'bama – the mess GW left is gonna take a lot of work to clean up...

    March 17, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
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