independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

US Presidents with Irish heritage

Playing the Green card has always been a US election winner. Though the influence of the Irish American vote may be fading, establishing an Irish heritage has always gone down well in the White House. Despite a detailed search by his aides, President Bill Clinton was unable to find relatives. But some 10 presidents had Irish links......

Andrew Jackson, whose parents, Andrew Jackson and Elizabeth Hutchinson, were born in Carrickfergus, County Antrim. His father's father, Hugh Jackson, died in Ireland about 1782. His great grandfather, Thomas Jackson, was from Ballyregan in Dundonald, County Down.

James K Polk, the 11th president, believed his great-grandfather, William Polk, came from County Donegal and that his great-great grandfather, Robert Pollock, came from the same county. Pollock immigrated to Maryland's Eastern Shore and changed his name to Polk.

The father of the 15th president, James Buchanan, was born in County Donegal about 1761. The mother of the 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant, was the granddaughter of John Simpson, who was born in Northern Ireland about 1738.

The great-great-great grandfather of the 25th president, William McKinley, was born in Ireland in 1705 and emigrated to America.

The grandfather of the 28th president, Woodrow Wilson, was born in Strabane, County Down, in 1787.

John F Kennedy, the 35th president, is the most celebrated of all. His father's great-grandparents were Patrick Kennedy, born in Dunganstown, County Wexford, about 1823, and Bridget Murphy, born in Owenduff, County Wexford, about 1827. His mother's great grandparents were Thomas Fitzgerald, born in Bruff, County Limerick, in 1823, and Rose Anna Cox, born in County Cavan in 1835.

Richard M Nixon shared an Irish heritage with JFK. Nixon was descended from James Moore, who was born in Ballymoney, County Antrim, in 1777. Another ancestor, Thomas Milhous, was born in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, in 1699 and he had others in Timahoe, Co Kildare.

The 40th president, Ronald Reagan, also delighted in his Irish roots. His great-grandfather, Michael Reagan, was from County Tipperary, immigrated to Canada and then the United States. Michael's wife, Catherine Mulcahey, was also born in Ireland.

George H W Bush 41st President 1989-93: County Wexford historians have found that his now apparent ancestor, Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke. Shunned by Henry II, he offered his services as a mercenary in the 12th-century Norman invasion of Wexford.

Barack Obama 44th President 2009 - Some of his maternal ancestors came to America from Moneygall, Co Offaly.

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