Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Now they'll really love him on the South Side: If you go back far enough, everyone has some interesting historical footnotes. Like me being very, very distantly related to Johann Strauss the composer, for instance. It doesn't say very much about you, if you ask me. Nevertheless, seems to have discovered good, solid evidence that Barack O'Bama has a little Irish brogue in him:

The junior senator from Illinois, seeking the Democratic nomination for the White House, has made much of his background as the son of a Kenyan father and American mother. Far less publicized is the European side of his family tree -- including, new research has found, a great-great-great grandfather from the heart of Ireland.

A genealogy Web site,, has spent months looking to pin down the origins of Obama's ancestors -- including Fulmouth Kearney, who immigrated to the United States at 19 and has ties to Obama's Kansas-reared mother, Ann Dunham.

Kearney is a common name in Ireland with roots in many counties. But the Utah-based organization got lucky when it made a call in March to Canon Stephen Neill, a parish priest from the Anglican-affiliated Church of Ireland.

Neill had just inherited rolls of baptisms, marriages and deaths dating back to the 1700s from a late parishioner, who had kept the records in her home. In the index he found Joseph Kearney, Fulmouth's father, a cobbler in the village of Moneygall, County Offaly -- which, back in those days of British rule, was known as King's County.

Neill hadn't been told by researchers why they wanted to know about the Kearneys of Moneygall. When he called them weeks later with his find, he was surprised to learn that Fulmouth was an ancestor of the Democrats' rising star.

"Everyone here says he's going to have to call himself O'Bama from now on,'' Neill said in an interview. "People are fascinated that such a remarkable man, and a potential president of the United States, could be connected to such a tiny, unremarkable place as Moneygall."

The village today is home to about 300 people, has two pubs, a Catholic church, and a Gaelic sports ground. A busy highway cuts through the middle.


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