Here’s a snapshot of five of the most colorful Irish-American leaders:
John F. Kennedy
The Democrat served as President during the Cold War until his assassination on November 22, 1963. The classic Irish-immigrant story, JFK’s great-grandfather escaped the Irish potato famine in 1848, his future wife later following him to Boston.
Richard Milhous Nixon
The Republican ended America’s involvement in the Vietnam War but had to resign during his second term over the Watergate scandal. Both sides of his family hail from County Antrim in Northern Ireland. Although a Quaker, Nixon’s wife, Thelma ‘Pat’ Ryan, was from a Irish-Catholic immigrant family.
The two-term Republican’s great-grandfather was a farmer in Ballyporeen, County Tipperary, until he moved to London where he met his Irish refugee wife. Then they moved to Illinois. Reagan became a Hollywood actor and Governor of California before becoming an icon among conservative presidents.
George H. W. Bush
After the attack on Pearl Harbour the Republican enlisted in the Navy before becoming an oil millionaire by 40. It’s alleged that his ancestor was Richard De Clare, or ‘Strongbow’, who was part of the 12thcentury Norman invasion of Ireland and was rewarded with land and the hand of the King of Leinster’s daughter, Aoife.
Barack Hussein Obama
The two-term President was plagued by ‘birther’ conspiracy theorists but nobody doubts that the Democrat’s Irish roots can be traced back to Falmouth Kearney, a 19 year-old cobbler’s son from Moneygall in County Offaly who arrived in America in 1850. Obama is officially 3.1% Irish.
… and going the other way…
Eamon De Valera
Ireland’s 3rdPresident. 1959-1973
A founder of the political party, Fianna Fáil, he’s credited with introducing the first Irish Constitution in 1937. He served two-terms in office and it’s widely believed that his American roots are why he wasn’t sentenced to death for his part in the Easter Rising in 1916. Ireland’s third president was born in Manhattan, New York.