The online genealogy site, Ancestry.com has carried out a survey revealing 28 Irish Americans share the same Irish ancestor as President Obama. Just four years ago Obama learned of his Irish ancestor Falmouth Kearney who fled Ireland during the Great Famine and came to the United States.
Lead family historian Anastasia Harman from Ancestry.com explained how they came to find these 28 relatives. She said "This is part of a larger project…As sort of a micro study of Irish immigrants' impact on America, we wanted to pick a ship full of Irish immigrants that came during the potato famine and see how they impacted America."
Ancestry.com found that Kearney had travelled on the 903-ton ship Marmion and arrived in New York harbor in March 1850 with 288 other Irish emigrants. He was travelling with his sister and her husband, Margaret and William Cleary.
Virginia Dunham (75), one of Obama's relatives tracked through Ancestry.com said she's proud of her links to the president. Dunham, a retired secretary and art teacher is a Democrat and lives in Maumelle Arizona. She is a half-sister of Stanley Dunham, Obama’s grandfather.
She explained that she got to meet him briefly at his inauguration. She said "I hadn't seen him since he was a little, bitty guy…I just gave some things to his security…that I had carried to the inauguration."
These "things" included family photographs of deceased relatives which she wanted to share with Obama.
Dorma Lee Reese (83) from Tucson, Arizona found out she is related to the President. Reese told CNN that she's not a fan of her new-found third cousin.
She said "I appreciate the office. But I can't appreciate what he's done…I just think that we're in a bigger mess than we've ever been in."
Vietnam veteran Dean Dillard (63), a retired college instructor from Chanute, Kansas had similar views. He said "There's pride in family and being related to a president. And I recognize the historical significance of his election…However, I do not agree with his political positions."
He continued saying "He's welcome to come to any family gatherings…I don't have anything against him personally. I think he's to be commended for the achievements of getting elected."
Dillard was aware that he had connection to the President before his historic election. He knew that his mother was a first cousin of Obama's grandfather, Stanley Dunham.
On St. Patrick's Day, during the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny's traditional trip to visit the White House, Obama confirmed that he plans to visit Ireland this May.
Obama said "I intend to come to Ireland in May…I'm expecting to go not only to all the famous sites, but also to go to Moneygall, where my great-great-great-great-great grandfather hails from."