Barack Obama

President Barack Hussein Obama’s roots in Ireland go back to 1850, when Falmouth Kearney, the 19-year-old son of a local shoemaker, left Moneygall to begin a new life in the United States. The Kearney family probably originated in Tipperary before settling in County Offaly, then known as King’s County, in the 1700s. One branch of the family moved to Dublin and entered the very profitable business of making wigs. By helping out with the wig-making business, the midlands relatives prospered enough to purchase property rights in Moneygall and Shinrone around 1800. By the time wigs fell out of fashion, the Dublin Kearneys had moved into more established professions. One served as provost of Trinity College, then became Bishop of Ossory. Meanwhile, in Moneygall, Obama’s ancestors William Kearney (1762-1828) and his son Joseph (c.1794-1861) worked as shoemakers.

Around 1825, Joseph Kearney married Phoebe Donovan. The couple had at least three children, including a son named Falmouth.

Leaving his wife and children in Ireland, Joseph Kearney traveled to America to claim his land. In Liverpool, he boarded the Caroline Read, arriving in New York City on 25 April 1849. His eldest son followed soon afterwards.

The passenger list for the Marmion, which entered the port of New York on 20 March 1850, includes a 19-year-old labourer named Falmouth Carney (Kearney). The next year, the last of the family said goodbye to Moneygall.

Phoebe Kearney and her children William and Mary (Anne), entered New York on the Clarissa Courier on 28 August 1851.

Two years after he arrived in America, Falmouth Kearney married Charlotte Holloway, with William Kearney -most likely his uncle– serving as Justice of the Peace.

U.S. Census records from 1860 show that Falmouth, a farmhand, his wife Charlotte and several children were living in Deerfield, Ohio.

Sometime later the family moved. In the 1870 U.S. Census, Falmouth Kearney is listed as a farmer in Tipton County, Indiana.

Charlotte Kearney died in 1877, and Falmouth Kearney died the following year. They were survived by five daughters and at least three sons. Barack Obama is the great-great grandson of Falmouth Kearney’s youngest daughter, Mary Ann.

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