Did you know that there are 23 US Presidents that boast Irish heritage?
From Andrew Jackson (7th President) born only two years after his parents emigrated from Antrim to ‘Barack Obama of the Moneygall Obamas’ (44th President), the Irish diaspora punch well above their weight in terms of political clout across the Atlantic!
Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.
Through his maternal line the 46th President of the United States can trace his Irish ancestry back to counties Louth and Mayo. Pioneering research carried out by our partners at the Irish Family History Centre in 2016 revealed he is descended from the Blewitt and Finnegan families respectively. His great-great grandfather Patrick Blewitt left Mayo in 1850 to become a sailor in the USA and settled in Scranton, Pennsylvania while his great-grandfather, James Finnegan, born 1840, arrived in Ovid Township, Seneca, New York in the late 1840’s.
The most recent of the US Presidents with Irish Heritage, Barack Obama’s heavily armoured limousine ‘The Beast’ weighted so much it actually got stuck leaving the US Embassy in Dublin during his state visit in 2011.
George H.W. Bush & George W. Bush
The Bush family can trace their Irish ancestry all the way back to the Norman magnate Richard de Clare, better remembered historically as ‘Strongbow’.
Reagan was the first ever US President to publicly sample a pint of the black stuff! He tried it during a visit to his ancestral village of Ballyporeen in county Tipperary in 1984. The locals were so pleased they renamed the bar after him.
After visiting the graves of his pacifist ancestors in County Kildare in 1970, President Nixon had the misfortune to be pelted by an egg, thrown at him by an anti-Vietnam war protester on his way to the Mansion House in Dublin.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Also one of many US Presidents with Irish Heritage, John Fitzgerald Kennedy became the first sitting US president to visit Ireland, back in 1963. Over the course of his four day visit he stopped in Dublin, Wexford, Cork, Galway and Limerick. However his visit to Limerick was a last minute decision, so much so that the flower displays of the US flag and words of greeting at Cork City Hall had to be commandeered and rushed to Limerick Racecourse by the army overnight! You can read more about JFK’s seminal visit to Ireland here.
Harry S. Truman
Who was the first US president to be presented with shamrock on St Patrick’s Day? The tradition began in 1952 when Irish Ambassador John Hearne sent Truman the now customary pot of shamrocks to mark Ireland’s national day.
Ulysses S. Grant
The renowned Union Army commander and later president was actually the first man to have sat in the Oval Office to visit Ireland. He visited Dublin, Derry/Londonderry and Belfast in January 1879. During a speech outside Dublin’s City Hall he recognised Ireland’s long emigration history to the US stating ‘I am by birth a citizen of a country where there are more Irishmen, either native born or the descendants of Irishmen, than there are in all of Ireland’.
At EPIC you can discover more about the 23 US Presidents with Irish Heritage and how they ended up taking on one of the most powerful jobs in the world. Our Leading Change gallery also features many world leaders, politicians, humanitarians and social advocates in many countries around the world.