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Irish American Presidents


No Irish Need Apply

The topic of Irish-American presidents came up recently in a conversation I was having, and it made me wonder how many US presidents has there been that claim Irish ancestry. According to Wikipedia, there has been 22 American presidents, who claim to be of Irish descent. That’s half of all US Presidents! President Obama, who in fact does have an Irish connection, is the 44th US President and claims Irish ancestry through Falmouth Kearney, the son of a shoemaker, born in Moneygall, County Offaly.

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When you consider that Ireland is only about as large as the state of Indiana, has a population of approx 6 million (north and south), it’s quite amazing that a country as small as this can have had such a huge impact on the politics of one of the larger, and probably most powerful, countries in the world.

See the list below for the names and dates of US presidents who claim a link to Ireland.

Many people are sure to aware of some of the Irish-American presidents – Kennedy, Reagan and more recently Obama are probably names that spring to most people’s mind. But what a lot of people may not know is that there has been at least one Irish president that has had very strong ties to the United States. Eamon de Valera was in fact born in the US, in Manhattan, New York City.

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De Valera, Ireland’s third president was one of the leaders of the struggle against British rule in Ireland, and took the presidency of the Irish Republic in 1921. For his part in the Easter 1916 Rising, De Valera was court-martialled, convicted, and sentenced to death. Almost immediately after, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, which he was soon released from courtesy of an amnesty agreement. It is widely believed that his direct ties to the United States, and the fact that the United Kingdom was trying to bring the USA into the war in Europe at the time, were the main reasons why De Valera was spared the death penalty.

Here is the list of US President’s who can trace ancestry back to Ireland. The extent of their ties to Ireland varies greatly. A couple of presidents were the children of parents born in Ireland, while other presidents need to go back a few hundred years to find a link to Ireland.

Andrew Jackson
7th President 1829–37:

James Knox Polk
11th President, 1845–49:

James Buchanan
15th President, 1857–61

Andrew Johnson
17th President, 1865–69

Ulysses S. Grant
18th President, 1869–77

Chester A. Arthur
21st President, 1881–85

Grover Cleveland
22nd and 24th President, 1885–89 and 1893–97

Benjamin Harrison
23rd President, 1889–93

William McKinley
25th President, 1897–1901

Theodore Roosevelt
26th President, 1901–09

William Howard Taft
27th President 1909–13

Woodrow Wilson
28th President, 1913–21

Warren G. Harding
29th President 1921–23

Harry S. Truman
33rd President 1945–53

John F. Kennedy
35th President 1961–63

Richard Nixon
37th President, 1969–74

Jimmy Carter
39th President 1977–1981

Ronald Reagan
40th President 1981–89

George H. W. Bush
41st President 1989–93

Bill Clinton
42nd President 1993–2001

George W. Bush
43rd President 2001–09

Barack Obama
44th President 2009–