01 Feb 2021
Newly inaugurated US President Joe Biden is the latest in a long line of American leaders who can trace their heritage back to the island of Ireland.
For centuries, Irish men, women and children have been leaving their native shores for new opportunities in countries throughout the world, in turn sowing the seeds of a global network of Irish connections.
It’s no surprise that many emigrated to the United States of America, where the Irish and Scotch-Irish influence in building up the infrastructure, society and culture of the country over generations goes right to the very top.
President Joe Biden, who is descended from two families from County Mayo in the west of Ireland and County Louth in the east, has discussed his heritage and his family’s humble beginnings in Ireland many times. The Pennsylvania native is fiercely proud of these Irish roots, and after having visited Ireland as Vice-President in 2016 he has promised to return during his term in office as President.
Remarkably, however, the 46th US President is actually the 23rd Commander in Chief to have roots on the island of Ireland, meaning that half of all Presidents in US history have come from Irish or Scotch-Irish stock.
An amazing 15 occupants of the Oval Office can trace their origins back to the northern counties of Ireland – 11 of them in County Antrim alone, including Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter and George W. and George H.W. Bush.
A good few US Presidents have returned to visit their ancestral homes, receiving amazing welcomes from officials, locals and multitudes of well-wishers alike.
Among them was J.F. Kennedy, who was the first sitting US President to visit Ireland back in 1963. Over the course of his four-day visit he stopped in Dublin, Wexford, Cork, Galway and Limerick.
Barack Obama also found his Irish connections and came to the village of Moneygall in County Offaly in 2011. “My name is Barack Obama, of the Moneygall Obamas, and I’ve come home to find the apostrophe we lost somewhere along the way,” he quipped.
And during a visit to his ancestral village of Ballyporeen in County Tipperary in 1984, Ronald Reagan became the first US President to sample a pint of the black stuff in public. The locals were so pleased they renamed the bar after him.
EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum reveals much more about the 23 US Presidents with Irish heritage and how they ended up taking on one of the most powerful jobs in the world, with the attraction’s Leading Change gallery now featuring the genealogy of President Biden.
Located on the banks of the River Liffey in Dublin’s Docklands, the original point of departure for many emigrants, the all-interactive, fully digitised and must-see museum illustrates the huge influence Irish people have had not just on world politics, but in sport, music, dance, creativity, charity, science and more.
EPIC Museum, Dublin City
Barack Obama in Dublin City 2011
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