The Irish American traced his ancestry on the popular PBS show

Paul Ryan, former US Speaker of the House, was recently featured on an American politicians episode of PBS’ ‘Finding Your Roots.’

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On the show, Ryan, who is very in touch with his Irish roots, explored the German and Bavarian side of his ancestry with the show’s host Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Of Ryan’s Irish ancestors, Gates Jr said: “Paul is well versed in their experience. He’s even visited the towns in Ireland where the Ryans once lived.”

Paul Ryan traces his Irish heritage on his father’s side, whose ancestors arrived in the US from Co Kilkenny.

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However, as Gates Jr points out, Ryan’s mother’s roots a “different matter.”

“His German roots were never as much discussed as his Irish heritage,” said Gates Jr.

“I know the famine Irish, I know the Irish story, that’s a pretty simple story,” said Ryan.

In his research, Gates Jr traced Ryan’s maternal roots back to Germany and Bavaria. After emigrating, Ryan’s ancestors made their way from New York to Wisconsin, eventually walking the last 50 miles of their journey as they were penniless.

“That’s an immigrant story if there ever was one. That’s a great story; I love that story,” Ryan said before becoming emotional about his family’s history.

“I just like that I’m part of the woven fabric of the country,” he adds.

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Later, Gates Jr shared the results of Ryan’s DNA test.

“What a shock,” Ryan humorously notes of his 61 percent Irish DNA.

However, the results also revealed that Ryan is in fact 3 percent Ashkenazi Jewish, something he never knew about.

You can watch the Finding Your Roots episode here:


Have you ever made any surprising discoveries about your roots? Share in the comments!