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Barack Obama – Twenthieth Irish American President

It’s confirmed, US 44th President Barack Obama is the great-great-great-great-grandson of an Irish shoemaker. Joseph and Phoebe Kearney and their son Fulmuth Kearney emigrated from the village of Moneygall, situated on the border separating counties Tipperary and Offaly, to America in 1850.

Records unearthed by the Church of Ireland Rev.Canon Stephen O’Neill show beyond doubt that Mr Obama’s ancestors on his mother’s side lived, worked, married and had children in the area.

It was initially thought that President Obama’s third great-grandfather Fulmuth Kearney, who sailed from Ireland to New York aged 19, was the only member of the family to emigrate, however records now reveal that other Kearney family members had in fact been in America since the 1790s. Indeed Fulmuth’s paternal uncle Francis, had bequeathed land to his brother, Fulmuth’s father Joseph, with the condition that he emigrate in order to inherit. Joseph did so, along with his wife Phebe and four children, including Fulmuth, at various times in the mid-19th century following the Irish Potato Famine 1845-1849 in which at least 1.3 million people emigrated from the shores of Ireland to mainly America, England & Australia. Baptismal records show that Fulmuth Kearney was born to Joseph, occupation a shoemaker, then considered a wealthy and skilled trade.The family eventually resettled in Tipton County, Indiana.

However the family connections go further back than 1850. President Obama’s great granduncle Michael Kearney was a prominent Dublin business man in the 1700s. As a wig maker he would have transacted business with Dublin’s aristocracy on a daily basis. He used the profits of this business to buy and sell property throughout the country. He become a Freeman of Dublin in 1718 and was very active in the politics of his wig makers trade guild. However economic changes, brought about following the Act of Union in 1801 and the decline in the fashion of wig wearing, saw the Kearney family fortunes slide into rapid decline.

A distant cousin John Kearney served as the head of Trinity College and Bishop of the Diocese of Ossory in the early 19th century.

President Obama however still, possibly, has distant Irish relatives. In 1760, one Joseph Kearney of the parish of Moneygall married a Sarah Healy also of the parish. Local current resident John Healy can trace his family’s presence in Moneygall right back to Sarah’s Healy’s time. Marriage records exist in the parish that show that at least two members of the Kearney and Healy families married in 1760. A field still known as Kearney’s Gardens, where the sunken remains of the house of the shoemaker Joseph Kearney, Fulmuth’s father, lived and worked, still exists. Records from the area show that Fulmuth and his siblings, attended the school locally and that this school later became Templeharry chapel.

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12 comments to Barack Obama – Twenthieth Irish American President

  • Argo

    The election of Obama is probably one of the most significant appointments of our time. Years down then line people will ask and say ‘Where were you when you heard that Barack Obama was elected? Where were you when America voted in a black man as president?’. Its so refreshing and reassuring to think that the western world has come this far, where we are all one in the same underneath the eyes of our maker. And its a bonus that Obama and what he envisages for America is a scheme of change that during these testing times, it so badly needs. Congrats to Obama. And isnt it great to see Tipperary again associated with another American President (Ronald Regan had his links with Tipperary). We seem to be able to produce world leaders. There must be something in the water……

  • noa

    I live in France and they say only that Barack Obama is black and from Kenya. This it is wrong. He is bi-racial and I love Ireland which loves his great son. He is the twentieth Irish American president. With Joe Biden – two Irish in the white house. That’s great.

  • Good to hear from you Noa. What a great day for America,and the world. Watch this space. Obama has promised to visit. Appears to be the type of guy that keeps a promise.

  • Noa. It is interesting to note that Biden and Obama both descend from Irish shoemakers who came to the United States around 1849, only a month apart. Lets hope the world has landed on its feet if you pardon the witticism.

  • Argo

    I hear Moneygall are throwing a big festival January 20th to honour Obama taking office.

  • noa

    Very interesting George. Obama won Ohio where his Irish American family live. Perhaps to be a Kearney help him in this swing state.

    Thank you Argo . In France they don’t say anything about Moneygall , it’s all about Kenya.

  • Jamie

    For the first time in the history of the United States of America, an African American man has been elected president. With this comes change, a mile stone that Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Booker T Washington only dreamed of.

    Barak Obama does not bring change; he is change, his new modern way of thinking overthrows any government that has gone before his. The Bush administration, the Clinton administration and the Bush administration before that again. All of these governments showed us power, but it is easy show power in a time when a country is booming.

    Obama, the 44th president of the U.S.A, now takes over a country with an unemployment rate that exceeds 7.2%; this rate which has risen by 0.4% since last December. With a rising unemployment rate Barak Obama has started his term in government with an immediate disadvantage.

    But Obama has an advantage, the power in which he speaks, the meaningfulness in every word, the emotion in his voice, the sense of fearlessness, that reassurance that he will never give up. This is what leaders should be made of. Not of salaries, not of what car he/she has, not of what race he/she is.

    Yes this is a turning point in U.S history, and how Obama is to achieve the task of wining what seems to be a losing battle. Only time will tell.

  • John

    Obama is a Wall Street pin up boy. His administration reflects this for all the world to see. He had reneged on all his promises labelling them ‘election rhetoric’. Forget the notion he has a tiny bit of Irish blood in him, doesn’t mean anything. In my opinion he is truly more dangerous than Bush. He has a natural gift for speeches and hypnotises a crowd into some kind of Obama worship. He is a socialist. All you Obama zombies should look at him through new eyes, and when you do maybe you will have to face the truth…Obama is a conman who has just pulled of the greatest con the world has ever seen with his buddies.

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