President Barack Obama found out years ago he had an Irish great-great-great-grandfather who fled the potato famine in 1850.
Obama's newly identified relatives are revealed in a study released to The Associated Press by Ancestry.com, whose genealogists also traced descendants of 23 other Irish passengers on the ship that brought Falmouth Kearney to the United States when he was 19. The genealogists were able to further trace branches in Obama's family tree and others who arrived on the ship, known as the Marmion, on March 20, 1850.
Among Obama's newly identified relatives is Dorma Lee Reese, 83, of Tucson, Ariz.
"I'm not a Democrat, so I can't say I clapped," said Reese, a retired brain-imaging technologist. "I don't appreciate what he's done by any means, but I do appreciate that he holds that office."
Obama addressed his roots yesterday during a St. Patrick's Day luncheon at the Capitol.
"Now, speaking of ancestry, there has been some controversy about my own background," he said. "Two years into my presidency, some are still bent on peddling rumors about my origins. So today I want to put all those rumors to rest. It is true my great-great-great-grandfather really was from Ireland."
Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, was a descendant of one of Kearney's daughters, Mary Ann Kearney, and Jacob William Dunham.
The president announced during a White House visit by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny that he was adding Ireland to the itinerary for his trip to Europe in May. Obama is making a state visit to Britain, May 24-26, just ahead of the G-8 summit in France.