News Palin Has Irish Roots

Senator John McCain's running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, has ancestors who came from Ireland during the Famine.

Palin, 44, was born Sarah Heath in Sandpoint, Idaho, the daughter of Sarah Heath (ne Sheeran), a school secretary, and Charles Heath, a science teacher and track coach. Her family moved to Alaska when she was an infant.

Palin has strong English, Irish and German ancestry. According to genealogist Meghan Smolenyak Smolenyak, Palin's family on her mother's side (the Sheerans) emigrated from Ireland to the U.S. in the mid 1800s.

"After doing some poking around I found that Michael Sheeran emigrated in the 1840s," Smolenyak told the Irish Voice on Friday.

Although not sure what part of Ireland Michael came from and still unclear where he first arrived to, Smolenyak said that he and his wife Mary wound up in Vermont in 1852, then moved to Illinois and then Minnesota, which is where the family settled.

And the trail doesn't end there. Smolenyak, through her work with ancestory.com, discovered that Michael and Mary's son, Michael junior married a Maria Ellen Burke, whose parents were also born in Ireland.

"Now all four candidates have an Irish connection," said Smolenyak, referring to the two presidential candidates and Senator Barack Obama's running mate Senator Joe Biden's Irish ancestry.

Although it is believed Palin, who was elected governor of Alaska in 2006, never visited Ireland, some reports have stated that she did stop over at Shannon Airport last July while en route to visit with soldiers of the Alaska National Guard's 3rd Battalion 297th Infantry Regiment at the Life Support Area in Kuwait.

The stop over only consisted of refueling. Palin's office could not confirm this at time of press.

On immigration, Palin has not ever specified her stance on the issue. However, McCain has been clear that he supports comprehensive immigration reform as well as border security.

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