US Presidents Connected to Ireland

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US Presidents of Irish Descent

We know that the United States has a long and close connection to Ireland.  Interestingly enough, however, is half of the 44 individuals who have served as President of the United States have a strong bond with the Emerald Isle, through genealogy or personal connections. As of 2020, these 22 presidents are of Irish descent:

  • Andrew Jackson 1829–37
  • James Knox Polk 1845–49
  • James Buchanan 1857–61
  • Andrew Johnson 1865–69
  • Ulysses S. Grant 1869–77
  • Chester A. Arthur 1881–85
  • Grover Cleveland 1885–89 and 1893–97
  • Benjamin Harrison 1889–93
  • William McKinley 1897–1901
  • Theodore Roosevelt1901–09
  • William Howard Taft 1909–13
  • Woodrow Wilson 1913–21
  • Warren G. Harding1921–23
  • Harry S. Truman 1945–53
  • John F. Kennedy 1961–63
  • Richard Nixon 1969–74
  • Jimmy Carter 1977–1981
  • Ronald Reagan 1981–89
  • George H. W. Bush 1989–93
  • Bill Clinton 1993–2001
  • George W. Bush 2001–09
  • Barack Obama 2009–2016

Interesting Facts

President Andrew Jackson
President Andrew Jackson

President Andrew Jackson was born just two years after his parents arrived in North Carolina from Ireland. He had two older Irish-born brothers! It was his position as the youngest son that made him eligible for the Presidency.

James Buchanan’s father emigrated from Milford, County Donegal in 1783, settling in Pennsylvania where the future president was born.

In addition to Buchanan and Jackson, President Chester Arthur was also a first-generation Irish American. President Arthur’s father, William Arthur, was born in Dreen, Cullybackey, County Antrim. And he graduated from college in Belfast before emigrating to Canada, where he met his wife, Malvina.


Teddy Bullmoose Roosevelt
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

Through letters, historians have learned that President Teddy “Bullmoose” Roosevelt had a passion for Irish folklore! He wrote to an Irish colleague expressing his enjoyment of Lady Gregory’s Cuchulain of Muirthemne and Douglas Hyde’s Literary History of Ireland.  Subsequently, those two books gained a significant boost in popularity! He even penned an essay titled ‘The Ancient Irish Sagas,’ which was published in 1907. 



JFK John Fitzgerald Kennedy A Conversation wiith JFK
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s roots are very Irish.  They were proudly displayed at a Kennedy family reunion in Dunganstown, County Wexford in 1963, during his presidential visit to Ireland. His Irish cousin Jimmy Kennedy presented President Kennedy with an authentic Irish blackthorn walking stick, which is now on display at the JFK Library in Boston, MA. 



President Clinton In Northern Ireland, Peace Talks
President Clinton In Northern Ireland, Peace Talks

Historians have debated President Clinton’s Irish heritage, but no one can debate whether or not he is deeply connected to Ireland. During his two terms, his passion for the country was reflected in his hard work towards peace in Northern Ireland, and his contributions to the Good Friday Agreement. His visits and calls in the 1990s clearly communicated that America cared for her Irish cousins. 


And there you have it!  These, as well as many other points in history, have created a legacy of Irish descent in the United States, one that is important to remember on a day like President’s Day.



US Irish Presidents Pin
US Irish Presidents Pin

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