There were several Irishmen in Christopher Columbus’ crew. But the one who stands out most is Patrick Maguire. In 1492, Irish-born Maguire was the first crew member of Christopher Columbus’ to set foot on North American ground.
2. At least 15 U.S. presidents have confirmed Irish ancestry.
It’s thought that over 40 percent of all American presidents have some Irish ancestry, but at least 15 of them have confirmed their Irish heritage. The most Irish presidents are Andrew Jackson and James Buchanan, both of whose parents were born in Ireland.
3. The first American general to die was Irish.
Dubliner Richard Montgomery is the first general to have been killed in battle during the Revolutionary War. Montgomery was killed in the Battle of Quebec during the 1775 invasion of Canada.
4. Three of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were born in Ireland.
Three of the eight foreign-born men were natives of Ireland.
These Irish patriots of the American Revolution are: James Smith, from Northern Ireland; George Taylor, an Irish native and a member of the Committee of Correspondence; and Matthew Thornton, an Irishman who became a member of the Continental Congress in 1776.
5. Irishmen helped build the White House.
Not only did an Irishman design the White House, and model it after an Irish building, but the White House was built by the hands of Irishmen as well.
Immigrant laborers from various backgrounds as well as slaves were the chief builders of the presidential home.
6. The White House has a twin in Ireland.
Many people know that the White House was designed by an Irishman, James Hoban, but not everybody knows that the White House building has an Irish twin.
Leinster House, the Georgian style home of the Dukes of Leinster that is now home of the Dail (Irish Parliament) is the twin.
7. A blind Irishman helped compose “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Though British composer John Stafford Smith, who was born in 1750, is credited for composing "The Star Spangled Banner,” the tune is actually based on music composed by the great Irish blind harper Turlough O'Carolan, who died over 35 years before the American Revolution. The melody is metrically identical to O Carolan’s “Bumper Squire Jones” of 1723.
8. Ireland’s population was twice as big as America’s during the Revolutionary War.
At the time when America gained its independence, Ireland’s population was nearly twice as large as that of the U.S., and stayed that way through 1800.
9. An Irishman is the “father” of the Navy.
John Barry, a Co. Wexford native, is known as the “Father of the American Navy.” He and his crew fought and won the final naval battle.
10. An Irish American was the first woman from the U.S. to walk in space.
Kathryn Dwyer Sullivan, an Irish American from Paterson, New Jersey, is a former NASA astronaut. She is also the first American woman to ever walk in space.
Sullivan was a crew member on three Space Shuttle missions, and is a member of the Astronaut Hall of Fame.