The man who swore President Obama into office on the steps of the US Capitol building last week, Chief Justice of the USA, John G Roberts, has strong County Limerick connections. His mother-in-law, Kathleen O’Sullivan (nee O’Carroll) comes from Newtownbarry, Charleville and Roberts and his wife Jane have a vacation home in Knocklong.
“We have had a few hooleys there – a song and dance,” Jane’s uncle Nicholas told the Limerick Leader.
“The way it happened was, I was going racing up the country and I saw these houses up for sale so I rang the sisters and told them. It was decided then to buy one as a holiday home,” he explained.
The chief justice and his wife have also enjoyed a barbecue at Nicholas's daughter Mary's house near Charleville.
“We had an impromptu barbecue here one summer and they were on holidays at the time. We had a great night,” said Mary
“He is very nice - very down to earth,” she said of the chief justice.
“We would have been very close to Jane growing up. She spent a lot of her summers here. She would have used Ireland as a base and stayed with us when she went hitch-hiking around Europe – she is the adventurous type.”
On his downtime in Ireland, Chief Justice Roberts likes to play a round of golf or go see a hurling match.
Nicholas recalls when he took the chief justice to Semple Stadium for the Cork and Galway All-Ireland senior hurling qualifier in 2008.
“He had one of the secret service with him, and during the game the secret service man’s phone rang and it was his wife. He said to her: ‘I’m watching one of the greatest games’,” said Nicholas.
Jane, whose mother left Charleville for New York in the 1950s, where she met and married John Sullivan, qualified with a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. She met her future husband in the late 1980s and they married in 1996. They have two children, Jack and Josephine.
In 2009, Jane told Irish Central's Niall O'Dowd how much her husband loves his trips to Ireland.
“The way to his heart was through the golf. Last summer we didn’t get any golfing, we hiked the Glen of Aherlow; there are many things to do there, it’s fabulous. We came to Ireland from Austria, and we did hiking there, but the hiking in Ireland is wilder; there’s hardly anybody out there, and it’s just us and the sheep.”