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President Barack Obama: Family History & Modern America

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 25, 2009


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by Brian Mercer Walker

"On 17 March 2009, President Barack Obama marked St Patrick’s Day at the White House in Washington, DC. His guests from Ireland included Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who not only presented him with a bowl of shamrock but also referred to the President’s ancestor, Fulmouth Kearney, who had come to America from Ireland in 1850. The President gracefully accepted the shamrock and acknowledged his ancestor. He remarked, however, that he had only learnt recently of his Irish ancestry, and he joked that this information would have been very helpful when he first entered politics in Chicago!

In this article, attention will focus first on how President Obama’s link with Ireland was revealed. Secondly, we will examine our current understanding of the position in modern America of the numerous descendants of all those emigrants who came from Ireland, particularly from Ulster, and use information about his particular family background to cast some light on this matter."