Sunday 21 January 2018

First daughters trace family roots

US First Lady Michelle Obama with her daughters Sasha and Malia Ann during their visit to the Long Room in Trinity, Dublin
US First Lady Michelle Obama with her daughters Sasha and Malia Ann during their visit to the Long Room in Trinity, Dublin

Even the President's daughters want to brag about their Irish roots.

Malia and Sasha Obama said they were looking forward to telling their friends about their visit to Dublin, where they and their mother Michelle were treated to a lesson about their family's ancestry.

The pair met their father's distant Irish cousin Henry Healy as they took a tour of Ireland's oldest university, Trinity College, where the Moneygall man presented them with certificates of Irish heritage.

"Both of them were pretty amazed with the certificates," Mr Healy said. "And competing with their friends, they said now they can prove they're more Irish than them."

Certificates of the Obama family genealogy shows President Barack Obama's ancestry from Falmouth Kearney, his second great-grandfather to his seventh great-grandfather, Joseph Kearney. It identified John Kearney, whom college researchers described as a distant cousin of the US president, who went on to become the provost of Trinity, and later Church of Ireland Bishop of Ossory, a diocese in Kilkenny, Laois and Offaly.

The family were also shown an original 19th century map held by the National Library of Ireland which shows lands of Gorthgreen from where some of the family originated.

Mr Healy - who Barack Obama jokes is known as Henry VIII because of their family ties - said Malia, 14, and Sasha, 12 were "very down to earth" and excited about their trip. And they were particularly impressed when they heard of plans for an Obama Park in Co Offaly when Mr Healy presented the First Lady with drawings of what it might look like.

"They said, 'Oh my God mum, I can't believe they're going to build a statue of you'," Mr Healy said. "And Michelle assured me she and the president would come back to Moneygall."

The Obamas appeared at ease and interested throughout the educational leg of the Irish trip. The teenagers smiled and chatted as they studied artefacts in Trinity's Old Library, including the birth registry of their Co Offaly ancestors and old maps detailing the family's homestead.

They were most impressed by the Long Room in the famous library, which they were told had appeared in countless movies including one of the Star Wars films where it was depicted as home of the Jedi archives.

Press Association

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