Jackie Kennedy was more Irish than her husband according to a genealogist who claims she tried to hide it because of her humble roots.
Jim O’Callaghan has spent over a year studying the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis family tree.
He’s told the Irish edition of the Sunday Times that the first lady was half Irish despite her links with France.
The report says she spoke fluent French, attended the Sorbonne and wore Chanel but Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, whose maiden name was Bouvier, was more Irish than French.
The paper claims the former first lady’s Irish roots were even deeper than those of her husband.
Jackie reportedly grew up believing she was descended from French royalty, was actually half-Irish says the report.
It also claims that JFK’s wife is ‘believed to have been embarrassed by the humble origins of her Irish forebears, and glossed over them in favour of her French roots’.
Jackie’s father’s family came from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France.
But her mother’s family came from Clare according to O’Callaghan.
He told the Sunday Times that Kennedy was one-eighth French and half-Irish, with most of her ancestors coming from Shandrum, near Mullagh, in Co Clare.
O’Callaghan discovered that on her maternal line, all eight great-great grandparents and two of her four great-grandparents were born in Ireland, making her more Mullagh than Montpellier.
The genealogist travelled to New York and Boston to research Jackie O’s family and was surprised by the results.
He said: “The surnames of the four families involved on her mother’s side are Lee, Norton, Merritt and Curry. You would imagine that she might have been happy to accentuate her Irish ancestry when she met the Kennedys, but it appears not.”
O’Callaghan told the paper that the Irish connection may have been fudged, as both her mother Janet Lee and her father Jack Bouvier ‘enhanced’ their family trees in an effort to climb the social ladder.
He added: “The Irish who emigrated to America struggled to be accepted in polite society, so it’s not surprising her family downplayed it.”
O’Callaghan says Lee even invented a link to Robert E Lee, the famous American general. In the family’s listing in the National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, there is no mention of Irish heritage.
The Merritts and Currys originated in Clare, with the Lees and Nortons thought to be from Cork according to O’Callaghan.
He said: “But conclusive proof of this is difficult, as they emigrated to America a generation earlier, and Irish records are scant for that period.”
The family gravestone in New York’s Calvary cemetery states that Jackie’s great-grandparents Thomas Merritt and Maria Curry were born in Co Clare and records show her great-great-grandfather Thomas Lee was born in the early 1800s in Cork.
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