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  Famous Americans with Irish Ancestors
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American Presidents with Irish Ancestors

Most Irish-Americans would be happy to be able to trace their ancestors a few more generations beyond the immigrant or back into the 16th century as is possible in many countries. However, as the genealogical research on several U. S. presidents with Irish roots below reveals, it is not always possible, but digging is half the fun.

May the luck of the Irish be with you.

Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States.
His parents — Andrew Jackson and Elizabeth Hutchinson — were from Carrickfergus, County Antrim, Ireland, as was his paternal grandfather, Hugh Jackson, who died there ca 1782. His great-grandfather, Thomas Jackson, was of Ballyregan in Dundonald, County Down, Ireland.

James K. Polk, 11th President of the United States.
His great-grandfather, William Polk is believed to have been from County Donegal, Ireland, as  his great-great-grandfather was Robert Pollock (shortened to Polk) and he was from County Donegal. The latter  immigrated to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and died there ca 1699-1704.

James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States.
His father, James Buchanan, was born in Ramelton (Rathmelton) County Donegal, Ireland ca 1761.

Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States.
His mother, Hannah Simpson, was the granddaughter of a John Simpson who was born in Northern Ireland ca 1738.

William McKinley, 25th President of the United States.
His  great-great-great-grandfather, David McKinlay [sic], was born in Ireland ca 1705 and immigrated to America.

Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States.
His grandfather, James Wilson, was born in Strabane, County Down, Ireland in 1787.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States.
His paternal great-grandparents were Patrick Kennedy, who was born in Dunganstown, County Wexford, Ireland ca 1823, and Bridget Murphy, who was born probably Owenduff, County Wexford, Ireland ca 1827. His maternal great-grandparents were Thomas Fitzgerald, who was born in Bruff, County Limerick, Ireland in 1823, and Rose Anna Cox, who was born probably in Tomregan or Kinawley, County Cavan, Ireland ca 1835.

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States.
His ancestor, Isaac Brown, was born in Ireland in 1771, as were both his ancestors named James Moore, (born in Ballymoney, County Antrim, Ireland in 1777 and 1759). Another of his ancestors, Thomas Milhous, was born in Carrickfergus, County Antrim Ireland in 1699.

Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the United States.
His great-grandfather, Michael Reagan, is believed to be from County Tipperary, Ireland and possibly is the Michael Reagan (or Ryan) baptized there in Ballyporeen  3 September 1829, and being the one who immigrated to the U.S. via Canada ca 1858. His wife, Catherine Mulcahey, was also born in Ireland. Reagan's other identified Irish ancestors include: Patrick Cusick, b. ca 1825, Patrick Mulcahey, and (possibly) Sarah Higgins, the wife of Patrick Cusick; she was born ca 1825 in Ireland or New York.

William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States.
Two of his great-great-grandparents (the parents of his great-grandmother, Hattie Hayes) supposedly were born in Ireland, although there is conflicting information. Additionally, some sources say Hattie Hayes was born at sea, while others say she was born in Florida; and the date of her birth varies from 1852 to 1858. 

Signers of the Declaration of Independence with Irish Ancestors

  • Charles Carroll
  • Thomas Lynch
  • Thomas McKean
  • George Read
  • Edward Rutledge
  • James Smith
  • George Taylor (born in Ireland)
  • Matthew Thornton (born in Ireland)


Famous Americans with Irish Ancestors
According to PBS' the Irish in America and AIHS

  • Daniel Boone: Frontiersman-explorer.

  • Davy Crockett: Died at the Alamo.

  • Stephen Foster: Songwriter. Great-grandson of Alexander Foster of Derry, Ireland.

  • Mathew Brady: 19th-century photographer; known for his Civil War pictures. Son of Irish immigrants.

  • George M. Cohan: Composer. Grandson of Michael Keohane from County Cork.

  • Donald O'Connor: Entertainer. Son of John Edward O'Connor of County Cork.

  • Henry Ford: Founder of Ford Motor Company. Son of an Irish immigrant.

  • Eugene O'Neill: Playwright.

  • Nellie Bly (nee Elizabeth Cochrane): The reporter who went around the world in 72 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes in 1889.

  • William Barclay "Bat" Masterson: Gunfighter, buffalo hunter, frontier lawman, and newspaperman. Son of Catherine McGurk who was from Northern Ireland.
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