A very influential political figure, Barack Obama has been in the public eye since the early 1990s before rising to the international sphere with the presidential election of 2008. He’s known for becoming the first African-American President of the United States, but is this former president Irish as well?
Barack Obama has Irish heritage. Obama’s mother was mainly English but was also of German, Irish, Swiss, Scottish, and Welsh descent, and his father was of Kenyan descent.
Read more below to find out about Obama’s ancestry and Irish roots, and how some choose to celebrate parts of his family tree.
Obama’s Family Background
Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the state where his parents first met while taking a Russian language class at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His mother, Ann Dunham, was born in Wichita, Kansas, and is of European descent with English, German, Irish, Swiss, Scottish, and Welsh ancestry.
While Obama is mainly English and Kenyan, according to the main parts of his parents’ ancestry, he is also a little bit German, Irish, Swiss, Scottish, and Welsh.
Obama’s Irish ancestry gained a lot of media attention when it was first discovered in 2007. His great-great-great-grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, left Ireland in 1850 to go to America, where he settled in Indiana.
Over time, generation after generation passed, until Obama’s mother Ann Dunham was born in Kansas. A genealogist from Ancestry.com pieced together Obama’s ancestry and his connection to Moneygall, Ireland.
Obama’s Trip to Ireland
Finding out about his Irish roots encouraged him to pay a visit to the small town of Moneygall, where only 313 people were living as of 2016. In 2011, he and First Lady Michelle Obama went to Ireland and stopped by his ancestor’s original home.
On his visit, Obama met his eighth cousin, Henry Healy, saw the building in which Falmouth Kearney used to live, met locals, and spent time at one of the town’s pubs. Many people are still excited about his time in Moneygall, especially about his visit to Ollie Hayes Bar, where he drank Guinness and learned more about his family history, shown in posts like this one.
Another, less common way in which his Irish ancestry was honored was in a 2008 song by an Irish band called Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys, now called The Corrigan Brothers. The song was titled “There’s No One As Irish As Barack O’Bama,” featuring his Irish ancestry and ties to Moneygall.
The humorous song emphasizes Obama’s Irish history with verses and phrases like “You don’t believe me, I hear you say / But Barack’s as Irish as was JFK / His grandaddy’s daddy came from Moneygall / A small Irish village well known to you all,” and “He’s as Irish as Bacon, and cabbage and stew / He’s Hawaiin, he’s Kenyan, American too.”
The Corrigan Brothers released a new version of the song in 2011 called Welcome Home President Barack O’Bama in honor of his visit to Ireland.
On St. Patricks’ Day in 2019, Obama posted this tweet in remembrance of his visit. “In 2011, I visited the tiny town of Moneygall and got to walk around in the house where my great-great-great grandfather Falmouth Kearney lived his early life. I’ll always be grateful for the warmth and generosity of the Irish People,” he wrote, signing the tweet “Barack O’Bama” in reference to the song.
Check out the YouTube video below to see the music video of The Corrigan Brothers’ “There’s No One As Irish As Barack O’Bama.”