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. Steve

    With a last name of O'bama, of COURSE he's a little Irish. I have an Asian American friend who claims she's a little Irish. Her last name, this one day a year, is O'gata". Let him have a litte fun....

    March 17, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  2. Bill in California

    Depending on your point of view we ALL either came from Adam and Eve or an Amoeba in a chemical pool so yes I guess YOU really are related....Sheesh!

    March 17, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. Corey

    The somewhat significant thing about Falmouth Kearney is that he is President Obama's most recent native European ancestor. All his paternal ancestor were African while all his maternal ancestor were born in the United States for at least 7 generations except Falmouth Kearney and his parents, who had immigrated from Offaly County (then Kings County), Ireland.

    March 17, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  4. Willy Brown

    He’s change alright, like a Cameleon. I wonder if he’s a little bit of a borne citizen too?

    March 17, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  5. The Broker.

    A Load of Blarny to me.

    March 17, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  6. Ray Fisher

    Hopefully, the President hasn't a touch of the blarney as do we other Irish, Ha, Ha!!! Erin Go Bragh!!!

    March 17, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. FreeNLovingIt

    Man! That's funny! Yeah, he's also related to Dick Cheney.

    March 17, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. Eileen

    Which part of "my great, great, great grandfather on my MOTHERS's side" did you people not read!!!! Anything is possible. For craps sake lighten up.......and learn to read....

    March 17, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |


    Happy St. Patrick's Day everybody!

    Where's my Guinness?

    March 17, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. sue

    You people can't give a break to President Obama to save our economic lives!!
    My best wishes to all the Irish and the 3% Irish in our President-actually 100% best wishes to our President, Irish, black, pink, green, yellow purple whatever!

    March 17, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  11. Travis In Colorado

    I love the comments by Mississippi Mike, Barbara, and Dennis. This is a load of green blarney. This guy is such a liar he makes me laugh. Isn't it cool how he knows so much about his family's history except for the part where his aunt donated money to his campaign and didn't know she was here illegally, or where his brother George was having some legal problems but he didn't know him too well either? Obama seems to know a lot about nothing important. But boy, what a speaker! But, so was Clinton. Hey Obama, how's that whole economy thing going? Maybe when you're done checking out your so called family history you can actually get to work. Or do you need another weekend at Camp David? Or buy another swing set for your daughters?

    March 17, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  12. Brook E. Mantia

    Putting the "O" in "O'Bama" ... 🙂

    March 17, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. Marc in Virginia

    Obama. Picking and choosing his race whenever it suits him politically. I didn't hear you were Irish when you were in NC, VA, and many other southern states.

    March 17, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. deb0155

    What a lot of malarchy! This guy ran his campaign as the "first African-American" and now on St. Patrick's Day – he's Irish!

    It only goes to show you that these politicians will do or say anything!

    March 17, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  15. Obama_All_the_Way!

    LOLOL Barbara I Love Obama, but that was funny!

    March 17, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. MZ

    He's certainly gettin' good with the Blarney, don'tcha know ? !!!!

    March 17, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. Alan

    What isnt Obama!!?!?!?!

    I heard he is a descendent of Jesus, and he can walk on water. So a little bit of Irish? Mys well throw that in there too, he is apparently God 😉

    March 17, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. dave4050

    prez. Obama a lil irish?? what a great American dreamer, he has everything that this country truely represents...bravo mr Obama!!! its great to be proud of all your diverse roots!

    March 17, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  19. Larry

    I bet he related to the Russians too !

    March 17, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  20. John in Tampa

    There is an old (by now) game called 6 degrees from Kevin BAcon: you know someone who knows someone etc.
    The truth is you ARE related to everybody on the planet, the only question is by how many degree?

    March 17, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  21. Dawn

    We have a bit of Irish in us on the 17th of March, even though I have English, Irish, Pennsylvanian Dutch and Cherokee in me, So I guess I am a Heinz 57 varity.

    They have proof that President Obama his Great-great-grand father on his mothers side came from Ireland.

    Oh well Happy St. Paddy's day everyone.

    March 17, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  22. arithmetic is liberal

    deb0155 March 17th, 2009 4:41 pm ET

    What a lot of malarchy! This guy ran his campaign as the "first African-American" and now on St. Patrick's Day – he's Irish!

    Because no African American in this country could possibly have European American ancestry. Nope, nope nope.

    We're not as different as you'd like us to be.

    March 17, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  23. linda from south dakota

    i think its time,, people realize that "making fun" of prsident obama, is wrong and sometimes its best to keep "rude" comments to ones self,,, obviously some of these people are predijuce,,, or having a bad day,, if you think you can do better , then run for the office next term,, haha

    March 17, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  24. hometowndemocrat

    Souther Hottie posted:
    March 17th, 2009 4:21 pm ET


    Happy St. Patrick's Day everybody!

    Where's my Guinness?

    Well put, nice to see not everyone takes themselves so seriously! If Bush would have said he was part Irish no one would have doubted it....but of course he did have that alcohol problem to back his story up.

    March 17, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  25. Heather

    Wow people its obviously a joke...get over yourselves. lol

    March 17, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
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