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= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/17/art.getty.obama.cowen.jpg 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. barbara

    and on easter he will be related to peter rabbit and on halloween he will be related to the great pumpkin and on thanksgiving day he will be able to say that he has relatives that came over on the mayflower and on christmas day he can say that he is related to Jesus......

    March 17, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    It would've been hilarious if they were related. That's very coincidental that Obama's great, great, great grandfather is from the same county.

    March 17, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  3. yuri

    A great, great, great, great, maternal grand father, we hear, was Irish. Hance he has the braggin'(?) rights of being 1/1024 th Irish or even a smaller fraction?

    March 17, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  4. Aaron Bedell, Maryland

    Today I wear my "O'bama" green primary shirt from last year. . . I have Irish roots, and the role these down-trodden Americans played in the civil war (to pay for food for the immigrant family's running from the potato famine) to the racism they faced in the late 1800s to our American version of a royal "camelot family" . . . The Irish have a link to both the traditional down-trodden, and the traditional power structure; and on this day of days, we are all a little Irish. Happy St. Patrick's Day to all.

    March 17, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I am sure that we all can trace some roots back to places we've never been. I would hope that everyone understands that we are all one race, one species. We must work together to advance what as a planet needs - protection from elements, clean water and safe food, knowledge and learning for all as well as acceptance of everyone's right to exist safely.

    March 17, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. A bit of the blarney

    That's our president for you.
    Something for everyone.

    March 17, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. patNY

    And since I'm most Sicilian, I guess that means I most likely have Obama's other roots as well in my lineage....from his dad's side.

    March 17, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  8. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Mr. President--–this is a day when [anyone] can be IRISH--

    March 17, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. Todd

    So he's a mutt......Who cares?

    March 17, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  10. Get Well Soon GOP

    Wow, what a guy! The Irish are the best of whites, and the Kenyans are the best of Blacks, and Hawaii is the best place to live in the US. This guys got it all.

    March 17, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. Shari, NY

    I did a little research on my own and discovered this. My apologies for the mis-spelling of the name Falmouth in a previous post. I think it is a blessing to be part of a rainbow. Happy St. Pat's Day!

    March 17, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  12. Mari

    Yes indeed President O'Bama!

    March 17, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  13. Chris C.

    Really? Isn't it lucky enough for Barack Obama to be a little bit Irish, huh? Just wondering. Our president being a little Irish? I like that kind of idea.

    March 17, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  14. karen-Phoenix

    He truely is a "mut" ALL of America can proud of!!! God Bless President Obama and his team!!! We NEED them to suceed!

    March 17, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  15. Shooky

    Obama must be Irish because US debt is Dublin! No, seriously though it's tripling!

    Thank you folks, I'm here all week!

    March 17, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. Dennis

    He's as green as can be regarding executive skills.

    March 17, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  17. Mississippi Mike

    Wow, shameless identity politics at its worst. I like to eat Thai food, does that make me a little bit Thai. Obama appears to be proud of every aspect of his heritage, except the parts where he and his family have been in the United States.

    March 17, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  18. Say it loud.

    Irish? Say it ain't so BO. Not Irish, please!!!!

    March 17, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  19. None ya bidness

    What isn't Obama???

    He's Prob last of the Mohicans too. But as they say, "No one's as Irish as Brack Obama"

    March 17, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  20. Charlie in Maine

    He's gonna need a bit o' luck. Glad to see he's wearing green.

    March 17, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  21. In Houston, TX

    Top o'the mornin to ya O'bama. Have ye seen me shelayle? Oh faith and begora on a four leaf clover in Notre Dame! Do i see pink hearts yellow moons orange diamonds in me Lucky charms...Aye!!!

    😉 I am rolling on the floor right now! But no kidding, Obama is 3.2% Irish...Like Irish creme

    March 17, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. richard

    dang, he is a mutt lol

    March 17, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  23. jeff in MA

    its Barak O'Bama today.

    March 17, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  24. patrickobama

    Being Sicilian, I probably have roots tied to Obama's dad's family...

    March 17, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  25. Joe Fattal

    Come on Mr.President, you got Irish in you as much as I got chineese in me. We all come from eve, that makes us brothers.

    March 17, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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