[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.”
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.”