Megan Smolenyak, the same genealogist who discovered that President Obama’s Irish roots go back to Moneygall in County Offaly, has discovered that Michelle Obama's family tree has a large Irish branch.
Smolenyak traced Michelle's heritage back to a young slave girl Melvinia Shields who was once traded for $475.
Melvinia would go on to have children with an Irish-American slave-owner named Shields.
Smolenyak said the young girl still haunted her. "It's still jarring to see dollar signs associated with human beings," she said.
Michelle's Irish roots was one of the major findings in Smolenyak's research. Smolenyak spent nine months researching the first lady's family tree in conjunction with The New York Times.
Smolenyak began the project just before Obama was named president and she says she hopes that her discovery will please the First Lady.
"The vast majority of people are happy when their heritage is just kind of handed to them," she said. "She's got a really rich ancestry. This would be my fantasy: that she's clicking [on the Web site] through all the branches of her family tree, sitting there with Sasha and Malia and Marian Robinson, and I hope they're pleased."
Smolenyak has done an enormous amount of genealogical research of the First Couple.
In 2007, she found out where in Ireland Obama’s family came from after tracing Obama’s third great-grandfather on his mother’s side, Fulmoth Kearney, journey from Moneygall in County Offaly to the U.S.