Reenactment of the wedding of Obama's 7th great great grandfather Joseph Kearney and Phoebe Donovan at Templeharry Church, County Offaly, 1825

The Irish premiere of Kilkenny man Gabriel Murray's documentary on the Irish heritage of U.S. president Barack Obama will be screened on Sunday as part of the Waterford Film Festival.

“Obama’s Irish Roots” include a segment on Bishop John Kearney, a direct descendant of President Obama who is buried in St. Canice’s Cathedral in Kilkenny city.

Shot in Offaly, Kilkenny, Dublin, Ohio and Indiana, the film traces President Barack Obama’s ancestry along his maternal heritage, a journey of 7,000 miles from Ireland to Hawaii. It covers 1,000 years of his family history.

Obama’s great-great-great-grandfather, Fulmouth Kearney, left his home in Offaly in the 1890s and traveled to Ohio via Baltimore, settling in Indiana. His daughter Mary Ann Kearney married into the Dunham family. She eventually settled in Witchita, Kansas, giving birth to Obama’s grandfather.

The documentary is written and directed by city native Gabriel Murray, whose film “The Lost World of the Crystal Skull” won first Prize at Waterford in 2008 and Golden Palm at Mexico Film Festival in 2009.

He was inspired by the discovery of President Obama’s Irish heritage by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak of Ancestry.com, who linked Obama’s mother’s ancestors to County Offaly.

The Corrigan Brothers, who enjoyed a YouTube hit with their single “There’s no-one as Irish as Barack Obama,” with four million hits, provides the soundtrack along with The Wolf Tones.

Mayor Malcolm Noonan of Kilkenny has sent a letter to the White House offering the Freedom of Kilkenny City to President Obama after director Gabriel Murray discovered the tomb of Bishop John Kearney (Bishop of Ossory) in St. Canice’s Cathedral

 

“Obama’s Irish Roots” will be shown at 4:10pm in Greyfriars, City Hall, The Mall, Waterford during the Waterford Film Festival.