Tales from the Trail

No doubts as to Obama’s Irish Ancestry now

By Samson Reiny
Playing with one of the more enduring controversies of his administration, President Obama joked on Tuesday that he had the perfect place for a gift confirming his Irish heritage: right next to his much ballyhooed birth certificate.

Visiting Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny gave Obama the “formal certificate” at an evening reception in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which earlier saw Maryland Governor Martin  O’Malley singing upbeat Gaelic-inspired tunes alongside a band.

“This will have a special place of honor alongside my birth certificate,” Obama said to raucous applause and laughter.

A lot of brouhaha was made over Obama’s ancestral ties to the island nation.

The president recounted his third great grandfather Falmouth Kearney’s immigration from the town of Moneygall — which Obama visited as part of his official trip to Ireland last May– to New York City in 1850. He went on to praise Irish influence in American culture and history.

“The green strands they have woven into America’s heart, from their tiniest villages to our greatest cities, is something truly unique on the world stage,” Obama said.

Washington Extra – Changing palette

Not so very long ago a no-fly zone over Libya seemed like an option on the outskirts of what the United States was considering in trying to pressure Muammar Gaddafi.

OBAMA/Since last night, apparently a no-fly zone might not be enough, and the United States is now pressing for air strikes against Libyan tanks and heavy artillery. What changed?

“It is not our feeling … that a no-fly zone is a snap-your-fingers, one-size-fits-all solution to a problem. And what we want is action on a variety of items that can improve the situation in Libya,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, without agreeing with the premise that policy had shifted.

Obama celebrates Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day

President Barack Obama celebrated a small piece of his heritage this St. Patrick’s Day and announced he would visit Ireland, including the village of Moneygall, the homeland of his great-great-great-grandfather.

IRELAND-USA/Or maybe it’s five ‘greats’, as he said in the Oval Office this morning? Either way, he’s confident he’s a little bit Irish.

“Two years into my presidency, some are still bent on peddling rumors about my origins.  So today I want to put all those rumors to rest,” he joked at the Friends of Ireland luncheon that he attended at the Capitol with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. ” It is true my great-great-great-grandfather really was from Ireland.”

O’bama? President digs deep to find Irish roots


In Washington, everybody seems to claim ties to Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, even politicians like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is famously Italian-American. Pelosi, with self-deprecating humor, told the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon on Capitol Hill that her ties are through grandchildren of Irish-American descent.

But many politicians’ ties are much less tenuous. After waves of Irish immigration to the United States, some 36 million Americans report some Irish ancestry. Nine of the past 10 U.S. presidents have been at least partly of Irish descent, according to the Centre for Irish Genealogical and Historical Studies. The only exception? Gerald Ford. NOT the man who would appear the least likely to have Irish forebears, President Barack Obama.

Obama has to look way, way back on his mother’s side of the family to locate his Irish roots, but they are there.

Speaking Obama with an Irish lilt

So after President Barack Obama tried out an Irish phrase on St. Patrick’s Day, the Prime Minister of Ireland unwittingly ended the evening by speaking a little Obama.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen, in Washington to help celebrate the day when everyone is Irish and a touch of green goes a long way, ended up at the White House for an evening reception. OBAMA-IRELAND

Obama, whose great-great-great grandfather hailed from Ireland, pointed out that the White House was designed and built by an Irish architect.  “Today serves, as well, as a solid reminder of just how deeply intertwined, how deeply woven the ties between our nations are,” the president said to guests in the state dining room.

O’Bama tests Irish roots on St. Patrick’s Day

President Barack Obama tested out his Irish roots on St. Patrick’s Day, donning a green tie, practicing “yes, you can” in Gaelic and making repeated references to his great-great-great grandfather from County Offaly. 
OBAMA/“I, personally, take great interest on St. Patrick’s Day because, as some of you know, my mother’s family can be traced back to Ireland,” Obama said after an Oval Office meeting with Brian Cowen, the Irish prime minister, or taoiseach.
“It turns out that … our first Irish ancestor came from the same county that taoiseach once represented. So we may be cousins,” he said to laughter. “We haven’t sorted that through yet.”
Obama discovered during last year’s election campaign that his great-great-great grandfather hailed from the Irish village of Moneygall in County Offaly.
Speaking to a St. Patrick’s Day luncheon on Capitol Hill hosted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Obama sounded sorry he’d learned about his Irish roots so late in his political career.
“When I was a relatively unknown candidate for office, I didn’t know about this part of (my) heritage, which would have been very helpful in Chicago,” he said. “So I thought I was bluffing when I put the apostrophe after the O. I tried to explain that ‘Barack’ was an ancient Celtic name.”
The president got a quick education on being Irish.
Cowen, presenting Obama with a traditional bowl of shamrocks, introduced him to the phrase “Is feider linn,” which translates “yes, you can,” similar to the president’s campaign slogan.
“Let me try that again. Is feider linn?” Obama said.
“Is feider linn,” said Cowen.
“Is feider linn. All right. I got that,” Obama said. “Yes we can.”
For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama receives shamrocks from Cowen)

First Draft: Barack O’Bama’s St. Patrick’s Day

The water in the White House fountain is green today and the presidential schedule is loaded up with Irish agenda items. IRAQ/It’s St. Patrick’s Day, when the U.S. chief executive could be forgiven for spelling his name Barack O’Bama.

He’s set to meet with the Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Brian Cowen, then attend a Shamrock Ceremony, followed by remarks to the annual St. Patrick’s Day luncheon hosted by the office of the House Speaker on Capitol Hill. The president will also meet with Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. This evening, there’s a White House St. Patrick’s Day reception.

Irish President Mary McAleese claimed Obama as a son of Ireland, “for sure, for sure,” in an interview on NBC’s “Today” program. “Even if he wasn’t, I think that we would have such faith and hope in him,” she said. “He arrived at a time when the world was in a very ugly mood of great despair. He’s really captured the imagination, particularly of young people, and that’s not easy to do.” McAleese said her son campaigned for Obama.