Obama Celebrates Irish Heritage | NBC New York

Obama Celebrates Irish Heritage

On St. Patrick's Day, our president remembers his ancestors



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    President Obama was presented with a lump of greens by Brian Cowen, the head of the Irish government.

    President Barack Obama, like pretty much every American born since 1845, can plausibly lay claim to some Irish ancestry. But whereas most people just boast about their Irish grandpa who used to cook beans and boiled tomatoes for breakfast, President Obama can tell stories about a very glamorous great-great-great-great-great granduncle who made wigs and hobnobbed with 18th century celebrities.

    This ancestor, Michael Kearney, made loads of money in the wig-making business because people actually wore these silly devices back then. In addition to covering the head, an elaborate wig also provided a comfortable breeding-ground for mice, roaches and bats, so a good wig was a utilitarian as well as a cosmetic investment.

    Kearney invested his wig-making proceeds in real estate and became a very well-connected man about town. Minus the wig-making and the real estate investments, he was basically an early version of Barack Obama!

    Obama is very proud of his Irish heritage and likes to talk about it, often on Irish holidays such as St. Patrick's Day, which celebrates the extermination of millions of innocent snakes.

    The 18th-century historian and wigmaker Sara K. Smith writes for NBC and Wonkette.