Report: Obama's Irish Roots Unearthed

Maybe he should spell it O'Bama.

Records unearthed in Ireland reveal that Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama can trace his ancestry back to a shoemaker in a small Irish village, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Obama's campaign had no comment Thursday about the report, but Chicago Alderman Ed Burke told the newspaper he wasn't surprised.

"I could tell from the very first time I saw him — he's got such a way with words," Burke said.

A Church of Ireland rector scoured files from the church dating to the late 1700s, and confirmed that Obama descended from Moneygall, County Offaly, the newspaper reported. The village today holds little more than a couple of pubs, shops and a Roman Catholic church.

Canon Stephen Neill, from a nearby town, began delving into Obama's past after a U.S. genealogist told him about the possible connection, the newspaper reported.

"I would be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that this is categorical evidence of Mr. Obama's link to this part of the world," the rector said.

It was initially believed the would-be president's great-great-great-grandfather Fulmuth Kearney was the only one of his family to have sailed from Ireland to New York at age 19 in 1850. But the newly uncovered records show other family members had in fact emigrated to America since the 1790s. They also reveal that Fulmuth's father, Joseph, was a shoemaker — a wealthy skilled trade at the time, the newspaper reported.

"They would have been among the upper echelons of society back then," said Neill.

Obama was born in Hawaii to a black man from Kenya and a white woman — with Irish links — from Kansas.

"I've got pieces of everybody in me," he has been quoted as saying.

The Sun-Times published also published a breakdown of Obama's ancestry, which, according to the newspaper, included: American Indian, Irish, Kenyan, English/Pilgrim and Scottish.

 

Barack Obama’s Irish Family Roots Confirmed in Offaly County

PROVO, UTAH – May 3, 2007 — Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online resource for family history, is now able to confirm that U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s Irish ancestors originated in Moneygall and neighboring Shinrone in County Offaly, Ireland.

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, Ancestry.com revealed on March 12th that Sen. Obama has Irish branches in his family tree. Following the news and in response to several inquiries, Ancestry.com continued its search of Obama’s Irish ancestors.

Baptism and probate records linking the family line back to Moneygall have been unearthed with the assistance of Canon Stephen Neill in the Templeharry Rectory records, which until recently were stored in a parishioner’s home.

“This research will once and for all put to rest any perceptions that Barack Obama is a first generation American, said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for Ancestry.com. “Like most of us he has an interesting mix of ancestry, including some impressively early all-American roots.”

Researchers initially thought that Obama’s third great-grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, who sailed from Ireland to New York in 1850 at 19-years-old, was the only member of the family to emigrate. However, records reveal that other Kearney family members had in fact been in America since the 1790s.

One ancestor, Falmouth’s paternal uncle, Francis, had in fact bequeathed land to his brother, Falmouth’s father Joseph, with the condition that he emigrate in order to inherit. He did so along with his wife Phebe and four children, including Falmouth, although at various times in the mid-19th Century.  

If interested, images of the Irish records are available upon request:

 

Rector traces Obama's Irish roots

US presidential hopeful Barack Obama's roots have possibly been traced to an 18th century Irish shoemaker.

Church of Ireland rector Canon Stephen Neill said the Hawaiian-born Illinois senator's ancestors hailed from the village of Moneygall in County Offaly.

He said Mr Obama is directly descended from shoemaker Joseph Kearney's son Fulmuth, who emigrated to the US.

Canon Neill was contacted by a Salt Lake City genealogist who told him of the possible link with his parish.

The rector came across the records after retrieving them from the home of a parishioner who died recently.

"There were summary documents going back to the early 1800s and even the late 1700s," he said.

"The leg work wasn't huge to be honest. I found a lot of these Kearney entries," he said.

"While I didn't find an entry for Fulmuth I did find the records of his parents, Joseph and Phebe, and his three siblings."

Canon Neill is "convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that this is categorical evidence of Mr Obama's link to this part of the world".

Mr Obama is being tipped as a formidable Democratic Party candidate to replace George W Bush as president.

He first shot to national - and international - prominence with a speech that stirred the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

The son of a Kenyan man and a white woman from Kansas, Mr Obama emphasised his personal history in a speech reflecting traditional American ideals of self-reliance and aspirations.

"Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place - America, which stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS