It’s no secret that the Irish transformed America. Still, it’s not such common knowledge that there are ten American presidents with Irish roots! Here’s everything you need to know.
There are many American presidents with Irish roots, and many have come and gone, but despite their various differences in belief and policy, one thing could always be made certain in every tenure: that the Irish would transform America.
Irish emigration is prevalent all throughout history, but it is especially notorious in the 18th and 19th centuries for completely changing the demographics of America.
However, what is less observed is that the lineage of the country’s elected leaders was no exception in this affection of the population.
From the 19th century to the 21st, here are the top ten American presidents with Irish roots!
10. Andrew Jackson – 7th president of USA
Born in the Wahaws region of South Carolina, Jackson’s parents were from the village of Boneybefore in Country Antrim, which today forms part of Northern Ireland.
Jackson’s heritage is fossilised in Boneybefore with the Andrew Jackson Heritage Centre, a museum set up inside of his ancestral home.
9. James Buchanan – 15th president of USA
James Buchanan was born in a log cabin in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania. His ancestors originated from near Deroran, a parish town in Omagh, County Tyrone, where their ancestral home still stands even today.
Buchanan was the last president to serve the USA before the Civil War began, serving from 1857-61.
8. Ulysses S. Grant – 18th president of USA
Serving from 1869-1877, Grant’s great grand-father was John Simpson from Dergenagh, County Tyrone in what is today Northern Ireland.
Although he is often viewed as a Civil War hero for leading the country out of the Reconstruction era, his term is also tarnished by its notorious financial scandal.
7. Theodore Roosevelt – 25th president of USA
Originally born in New York City, Theodore Roosevelt’s maternal side of the family came from Larne, County Antrim.
Roosevelt led for two terms, is often cited as one of the greatest Presidents to ever lead the USA, and helped to champion it as the economic world power that it is today.
6. John F. Kennedy – 35th president of USA
Kennedy is not only the first-ever Catholic Irish president but also the first president whose Irish heritage comes from southern Ireland. His grandparents on both sides came from various areas of County Limerick, Cavan, and Cork.
In 1963, Kennedy also became the first-ever American president to visit Ireland.
5. Richard Nixon – 37th president of USA
Nixon can be placed as an American President with Irish roots as his ancestors can be traced back to County Antrim in the 17th century.
Nixon would be the second president to visit Ireland, paying homage to his descendants in Kildare.
However, unlike Kennedy, his arrival was met with much protest due to his controversial position towards the Vietnam War.
4. Jimmy Carter – 39th president of USA
Carter can trace his Irish lineage from a four-times-great-grandfather who came from County Antrim in the 18th century.
His administration is partly respected for its part in mediating the Israel-Egypt conflict, but lost points for pushing America into an economic disaster.
3. Ronald Reagan – 40th president of the USA
Three of Reagan’s great-grandparents were Irish – on his father’s side, he had roots in Ballyporeen, County Tipperary. His family came to America in the 19th century via Canada and England.
Like Presidents who came before him, much of Reagan’s term was marred by rampant protests against the USA’s position in the Vietnam War.
2. George H.W Bush & George W. Bush – 41st and 43rd president of USA
George H. W. Bush and his son – the 41st and 43rd Presidents of USA, are American Presidents with Irish roots through their fourth-(and fifth, respectively)-times-great-grandfather who descended from Rathfriland, County Down, in the mid 18th century.
Incredibly, the Bushes also have a distant connection to Dermot MacMurrough, the King of Leinster, and Erskine Hamilton Childers, one of Ireland’s former Presidents.
1. Barack Obama – 44th president of USA
Barack Obama served as USA’s 44th President through two terms. He became an American president with Irish roots through his mother’s side, as his three-times-great-grandfather was from the village of Moneygall in County Offaly.
When visiting Ireland in 2011, Obama famously joked that he had made the journey in search of the apostrophe missing from his surname.
Amazingly, there are 22 different American presidents with Irish roots, which means almost half of America’s elected leaders have Irish heritage!
This trend of Irish-American presidents continues even today, hundreds of years after the rise of Andrew Jackson, as the Democratic Party’s current nominee in the 2020 election, Joe Biden, also has Irish ancestry through his mother’s side of the family.
This begs the question: in hundreds of years to come, will American presidents continue to possess the Irish roots of their elected predecessors?