Top O' the 1 World Leaders; JFK HEADS LIST OF PREMIERS WITH A LITTLE BIT OF IRISH IN THEM

The Mirror (London, England), May 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

Top O' the 1 World Leaders; JFK HEADS LIST OF PREMIERS WITH A LITTLE BIT OF IRISH IN THEM


Byline: MAEVE QUIGLEY

JOHN F Kennedy has been voted the top world leader with Irish roots, a new poll has revealed.

And although he lit up Moneygall last year, Barack Obama only managed third place, behind film star turned politician Ronald Reagan.

The poll of more than 4,000 people was conducted for the Irish family history site, findmypast.ie and its US partner findmypast.com.

The Irish diaspora is estimated to include around 80 million people, more than 12 times the number of people who actually live here.

Around 40 million Americans class themselves as of Irish ancestry.

Findmypast's Cliona Weldon said: "The most surprising people turn out to have Irish ancestry."

Obama, who only discovered his Irish roots in 2007, is just one of at least 13 US presidents to have had Irish ancestry.

Kennedy is the still the only practising Catholic to have become US President.

Like Reagan, he traced his roots to the great wave of Irish Catholic emigration that began in the mid-19th century because of the Famine.

1. John F Kennedy (US) JFK's paternal great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy came from Dunganstown in Co Wexford, while his maternal greatgrandfather, Thomas Fitzgerald hailed from Bruff, Co Limerick.

2. Ronald Reagan (US) REAGAN'S great-grandfather, Michael O'Regan, emigrated from Ballyporeen in Co Tipperary in 1858.

3. Barack Obama (US) BARACK Obama's Irish forebear, Falmouth Kearney left for the US from Moneygall, Co Offaly in 1850. He was Obama's maternal great-great-great grandfather.

Fiona Fitzsimons, historian and director of findmypast.ie, said: "Obama is descended from that 'lost tribe of Ireland' - Southern Episcopalians.

"This group once comprised 20% of the Irish population but nowadays barely gets a footnote in Irish history."

4. Che Guevara (Cuba) CHE Guevara, the Argentine-born radical who led uprisings in Bolivia and Cuba, is best-known today as an icon of Latin American revolution and counter-cultural chic.

But his father's last name was Lynch and his family traced its ancestry back to Patrick Lynch, an emigrant to Argentina from Galway, Ireland in the 1740s.

Che's father once said: "The first thing to note is that my son's veins flowed with the blood of Irish rebels.

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