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  • Lifestyle

Don't worry Obama is from Offaly, insists genealogist

Thursday, 2nd August, 2012 5:30pm

Story by Laura Ryder
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Don't worry Obama is from Offaly, insists genealogist
Don't worry Obama is from Offaly, insists genealogist

The genealogist who traced American President Barack Obama's roots to Moneygall has dismissed suggestions that new research into his maternal family line contradicts his connection to Offaly.

Last Wednesday afternoon, August 1, online newspaper TheJournal.ie posted a link to an article on the subject on Twitter. The link was introduced with the sentence "Bad news, Moneygall. Barack Obama may not be from Offaly after all." However speaking to the Offaly Independent later on the same day genealogist Megan Smolenyak said both sets of research looking into President Obama's mother's lineage can sit side by side, both true.

Previous research by Ms Smolenyak revealed President Obama is the great-great-great-grandson of Moneygall emigrant Falmouth Kearney. Assisted by Cloughjordan's Canon Stephen Neill in Ireland Ms Smolenyak traced the family line of the 19 year old shoemaker's son who left Moneygall for America in 1850, leading to the birth of Barack Obama some 111 years later on August 4, 1961. The research is one of 20 of Ms Smolenyak's most famous cases included in a book released by her in January 2012 entitled "Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing" in a dedicated chapter called "There's No One As Irish As Barack Obama".

New research by a team of genealogists from the Utah-based Ancestry.com has now found evidence that President Obama could be a descendent of one of the first documented African slaves in America. Like Ms Smolenyak's research the latest study looked into President Obama's mother's line, which was found to be of mixed race.

Speaking on Wednesday Ms Smolenyak, who has worked with Ancestry.com in the past though wasn't part of the most recent research, said the two pieces of research can easily co-exist. "When you go back to the 1600s you've so many ancestors," she said, adding that the new results are "not a surprise at all". Ms Smolenyak, who travelled to Ireland for President Obama's visit in May 2011, said back then families tended to be large, leading to millions of descendents living today. "That's why he [President Obama] is President for so many people," she said. "That's the kind of heritage he has."

She added that research into different family branches led to the revelations that Obama has roots in slavery as well as Ireland. She dismissed any suggestions that one set of results contradicts the other, and said new revelations don't change the fact that President Obama's ancestral home is on Moneygall's Main Street. "This new stuff doesn't change that at all," she said.

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