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Obama in Dublin: "Chicago is the Irish capital of the Midwest"

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President Obama, in Ireland on Monday, after a visit to his maternal grandfather's grandfather's town, praised Chicago's Irish and said it would have been "handy" earlier in his political career to have known about his Irish roots.

"My name is Barack Obama --of the Moneygall Obamas. And I've come home to find the apostrophe that we lost somewhere along the way," Obama said in Dublin.

Obama and First Lady Michelle hoisted a pint of Guinness during a visit to the village of Moneygall--the home of Falmouth Kearney, Obama's great-great-great grandfather until he left for the United States in 1850.

In a Dublin speech, Obama played up his Irish roots--and said he would have probably had a better spot in Chicago's St. Patrick's Day parade if he could have claimed Irish ancestory--and marched as O'Bama. Chicago's Irish political clans--Daley, Hynes and Madigan--were a powerful political force when Obama came on the political scene.
Obama only confirmed his Irish roots during his run for president.

"Until recently, I could not unequivocally claim that I was one of those Irish-Americans."

He thanked the genealogists who traced his family tree.

"There's no one more Irish than me," said Obama, next alluding to the birthers in the U.S. who claimed Obama was not born in America. With Donald Trump pumping up the issue, Obama in April released his long form birth certificate from Hawaii.

"It turns out that people take a lot of interest in you when you're running for president. They look into your past. They check out your place of birth -- -- things like that.
"Now, I do wish somebody had provided me all this evidence earlier, because it would have come in handy back when I was first running in my hometown of Chicago because Chicago is the Irish capital of the Midwest.

"A city where it was once said you could stand on 79th Street and hear the brogue of every county in Ireland.

"So naturally a politician like me craved a (spot) in the St. Patrick's Day parade. The problem was, not many people knew me or could even pronounce my name. I told them it was a Gaelic name; they didn't believe me.

"So one year a few volunteers and I did make it into the parade, but we were literally the last marchers. After two hours, finally it was our turn. And while we rode the route and we smiled and we waved, the city workers were right behind us cleaning up the garbage."

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 23, 2011 2:38 PM.

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