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Monday, 27 October 2008

Irish Roots of Barack Obama

Documents unearthed by an Irish vicar show ancestors of Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama may have arrived in the United States from a tiny village in central Ireland as early as the 1790s.

"They're old parish records going back to 1799," said Canon Stephen Neill, rector for the parish of Moneygall, Co.Offaly.

"They're in remarkably good condition and we have constant applications from Americans chasing their ancestors."

Genealogy Web site www.ancestry.co.uk asked Neill, whose father is Anglican archbishop of Dublin, to check parish records after discovering documents indicating Obama's great-great-great grandfather on his Mother's side, arrived in New York in 1850 before settling in Ohio.

"Like most of us he has an interesting mix of ancestry, including some impressively early all-American roots," said Megan Smolenyak, a spokeswoman for the Web site.

Records uncovered in 2007 found the President-elect’s fourth great grandfather Joseph Kearney was a shoemaker whose son, Fulmuth Kearney left for the US in 1850. Between 1845 and 1851 over a million people left Ireland on 'famine ships' to escape mass-starvation caused by potato blight and ancestry.co.uk says passenger lists show Obama's great-great-great grandfather was among them.

Subsequent research into the parish records provided by Neill revealed not only that the Kearneys hailed from Moneygall in County Offaly but also that other family members may have crossed the Atlantic before him in the 1790s, the Web site said.

Nothing remains of the Kearney homestead and surrounding land in Moneygall, which ironically once belonged to the family of Obama’s distant cousin, Henry Healy. They were forced to give it up 30 years ago after the local authority compulsorily purchased it for new housing, but just four properties were built on the field and plans are afoot to turn it into a museum or heritage centre.

Born in Hawaii to a white American mother and Kenyan father, Obama's European connection means he can also join more than 30 million of his countrymen in claiming Irish descent.

You can view the Irish line of Obama's family tree HERE.

The Irish band the Corrigan Brothers have released their song 'There's No One As Irish As Barack O'Bama'.

The song features the chorus: "O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara...there's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama."

The band will perform the song, which is already an internet phenomenon, at the day parade on the Irish American float, and also at Mr Obama's official inauguration party on becoming President.

You can view the video below and find the words to the song at OneEyedParrot.com



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