List of Americans of Irish descent

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This is a list of Americans of Irish descent, including both original immigrants who obtained American citizenship and their American-born descendants.

To be included in this list, the person must have a Wikipedia article and/or references showing the person is Irish American




  • Jean Butler, Dancer "Her mother, Josephine, is from County Mayo in Ireland."
  • Michael Flatley, Dancer [9] "The important thing to know about Michael Flatley is that he's Irish-American... His success comes from his ability to join unlikely elements together—Irish and Americans, step dancing and flamenco, pretension and frivolity."
  • William Harnett, Painter, Irish immigrant best known for trompe-l'œil renderings of still life.[10] "William Harnett American, born Ireland, 1848(?)-1892"
  • Gene Kelly, Dancer, Actor, Singer, Director, Choreographer
  • Georgia O'Keeffe, Painter [11] "Of Irish and Hungarian ancestry, Georgia O'Keeffe was born on a farm in Sun Prairie, Wis...."
  • Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Sculptor [12] "Augustus Saint-Gaudens was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1848 to an Irish mother and a French father."
  • Harrison Ford and Terence Ford, Actors and sons of an Irish American Grandfather a German Grandmother and a Jewish mother.
  • Carrie Ann Inaba, dancer, actress (Mother of Chinese and Irish Descent)
  • Martin Driscoll, Artist (painter)[13] Noted painter of Irish rural life.
  • Kurt Cobain, Songwriter and musician, Lead singer of Nirvana.
  • Colleen Doran, Cartoonist, illustrator, writer.



Film directors/producers[edit]

  • Walt Disney [21] "his father, Elias Disney, an Irish-Canadian, and his mother, Flora Call Disney, who was of German-English descent."
  • Roy O. Disney, Walt Disney's brother.
  • Roy E. Disney, (1930–2009) senior executive for The Walt Disney Company and son of Roy O. Disney.
  • Thom Fitzgerald, known for independent films like The Hanging Garden, born in New York. His grandparents were immigrants from County Kerry and County Cavan, Ireland.
  • John Ford, Director, best known for stylish Westerns and the film classic, The Quiet Man.
  • Alfred Hitchcock [22] "He was the youngest child of an East End family whose father ran a poulterer's and greengrocer's business and whose mother came of Irish stock. The family was Catholic." [23] "In 1955, he became an American citizen."
  • John Huston[1]
  • Leo McCarey [24] "Leo McCarey was the first son of Irish-Catholic Thomas McCarey, a well-known boxing promoter, and French-born Leona [Mistrol] McCarey, for whom he is named."
  • Michael Moore [25] "Moore, now 55, was raised in a working-class Irish-American family."
  • John Sayles (1950 - ) independent film director and writer, frequently takes a small part in his own and other indie films[2]

Gangsters and mobsters[edit]

Law enforcement[edit]



Lt. Michael Patrick Murphy navy seal medal of honour Joseph T. O'Callaghan medal of honour

  • John Barry - father of the United States Navy [51] "John Barry was born in a modest thatched cottage in 1745 at Ballysampson on Our Lady's Island, which is part of Tacumshane Parish in County Wexford, Ireland..."
  • Michael Corcoran - United States Army general [52] "A policeman in Ireland, Michael Corcoran became a symbol of what an Irishman -- and a Fenian -- could make of himself in the New World..."
  • James Hickey - leader of Operation Red Dawn [53] "Hickey is the son of working-class Irish immigrants..."
  • Stephen W. Kearny United States Army officer, noted for action in the southwest during the Mexican–American War [10]
  • Andrew Lewis - Continental Army general "LEWIS, Andrew, soldier, born in Donegal, Ireland, about 1720"
  • Dennis Hart Mahan - guiding light and head of faculty at West Point for decades prior to the Civil War. Influential author whose published works were the keystone for spreading engineering knowledge throughout the antebellum United States. His Napoleon seminar at West Point informed Civil War strategies, North and South.
  • Alfred Thayer Mahan - naval officer and author whose work, including "Sea Power," inspired the creation of the modern United States Navy.
  • George Gordon Meade - commanding general of the Army of the Potomac who led the Union forces to victory at Gettysburg in July 1863
  • Thomas Francis Meagher - United States Army general, Fenian [54] "THOMAS Francis Meagher, Irish nationalist. captain in the 69th New York State Militia at 1st Manassas, and Civil War general..."
  • Richard Montgomery - Continental Army general [55] "MONTGOMERY, RICHARD (1736–1775), American soldier, was born in Co. Dublin, Ireland, in 1736..."
  • Audie Murphy - most decorated combat soldier of World War II [56] "One of the countless young Irish Americans queuing up in front of the recruitment offices was Audie Murphy from Greenville, Texas..."
  • Timothy Murphy - marksman, Continental Army [11] "His parents, Irish immigrants, were Thomas and Mary (Lundy) Murphy..."
  • Jeremiah O'Brien - captain in Continental Navy [12] "The shamrock centered at the top of the pile alludes to Jeremiah O'Brien's Irish ancestry..."
  • John O'Neill - United States Army general, Fenian [13] "General John O'Neill arrived in the United States from Ireland in 1848..."
  • John P. O'Neill - high ranking anti-terrorism expert [57]
  • Molly Pitcher - Revolutionary War heroine [58] "She survived her husband many years, known of course as Molly McCauly, and the statements so frequently made that Molly Pitcher was a young Irish woman..."
  • John Reynolds - general commanding the right wing of the Army of the Potomac who surprised Lee and committed the Union army to battle at Gettysburg in July 1863. Killed in the front lines while personally rallying troops for counterattacks during the first day of fighting.
  • Philip Sheridan - United States Army, General of the Army, Cavalry [59] "John and Mary Minah Sheridan, Philip's parents, came to United States in 1830 at the urging of John's uncle, Thomas Gainor, living in Albany, New York. John and Mary were second degree cousins from County Cavan, Ireland."
  • John Sullivan - Continental Army general [60] "General John Sullivan: His Irish Family Background"




At least 22 presidents of the United States have some Irish ancestral origins,[14] although the extent of this varies. For instance President Clinton claims Irish ancestry despite there being no documentation of any of his ancestors coming from Ireland, but Andrew Jackson and Kennedy on the other hand have strong documented Irish origins. Also Ronald Reagan's great-grandfather was an Irish Roman Catholic, and his mother had some Scots-Irish and Irish ancestry. James K. Polk also had Scots-Irish Ancestry. Only Kennedy was raised as a practicing Catholic.

Andrew Jackson (Scotch-Irish) (Irish)
7th President 1829-37: : He was born in the predominantly Ulster-Scots Waxhaws area of South Carolina two years after his parents left Boneybefore, near Carrickfergus in County Antrim. A heritage centre in the village pays tribute to the legacy of 'Old Hickory', the People's President. Andrew Jackson then moved to Tennessee, where he served as Governor[15]
James Knox Polk (Scotch-Irish)(Irish)
11th President, 1845-49: His ancestors were among the first Ulster-Scots settlers, emigrating from Coleraine in 1680 to become a powerful political family in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He moved to Tennessee and became its governor before winning the presidency.[16]
James Buchanan (Scotch-Irish)(Irish)
15th President, 1857-61: Born in a log cabin (which has been relocated to his old school in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania), 'Old Buck' cherished his origins: "My Ulster blood is a priceless heritage". The Buchanans were originally from Deroran, near Omagh in County Tyrone where the ancestral home still stands.[16]
Andrew Johnson (Scotch-Irish Irish & English)
17th President, 1865-69: His grandfather left Mounthill, near Larne in County Antrim around 1750 and settled in North Carolina. Andrew worked there as a tailor and ran a successful business in Greeneville, Tennessee, before being elected Vice-President. He became President following Abraham Lincoln's assassination.[16]
Ulysses S. Grant (Scotch-Irish,Irish English & Scottish)
18th President, 1869-77: The home of his maternal great-grandfather, John Simpson, at Dergenagh, County Tyrone, is the location for an exhibition on the eventful life of the victorious Civil War commander who served two terms as President. Grant visited his ancestral homeland in 1878.[17]
Chester A. Arthur (Scotch-Irish Irish & English)
21st President, 1881-85: His election was the start of a quarter-century in which the White House was occupied by men of Ulster-Scots origins. His family left Dreen, near Cullybackey, County Antrim, in 1815. There is now an interpretive centre, alongside the Arthur Ancestral Home, devoted to his life and times.[16][18]
Grover Cleveland (Scotch-Irish Irish & English)
22nd and 24th President, 1885-89 and 1893-97: Born in New Jersey, he was the maternal grandson of merchant Abner Neal, who emigrated from County Antrim in the 1790s. He is the only president to have served non-consecutive terms.[16]
Benjamin Harrison (Scotch-Irish Irish & English)
23rd President, 1889-93: His mother, Elizabeth Irwin, had Ulster-Scots roots through her two great-grandfathers, James Irwin and William McDowell. Harrison was born in Ohio and served as a brigadier general in the Union Army before embarking on a career in Indiana politics which led to the White House.[16][19]
William McKinley (Scotch-Irish Irish & English)
25th President, 1897-1901: Born in Ohio, the descendant of a farmer from Conagher, near Ballymoney, County Antrim, he was proud of his ancestry and addressed one of the national Scotch-Irish Irish congresses held in the late 19th century. His second term as president was cut short by an assassin's bullet.[16][20]
Theodore Roosevelt (Scotch-Irish,Irish, Dutch, Scottish, English & French)
26th President, 1901-09: His mother, Mittie Bulloch, had Ulster Scots ancestors who emigrated from Glenoe, County Antrim, in May 1729. Roosevelt praised "Irish Presbyterians" as "a bold and hardy race."[21] However, he is also the man who said: "But a hyphenated American is not an American at all. This is just as true of the man who puts "native"* before the hyphen as of the man who puts German or Irish or English or French before the hyphen." [61] (*Roosevelt was referring to "nativists", not American Indians, in this context)[22]
William Howard Taft (Scotch-Irish Irish & English)
27th President 1909-13[23][24]
Woodrow Wilson (Scotch-Irish Irish)
28th President, 1913-21: Of Ulster-Scot descent on both sides of the family, his roots were very strong and dear to him. He was grandson of a printer from Dergalt, near Strabane, County Tyrone, whose former home is open to visitors. Throughout his career he reflected on the influence of his ancestral values on his constant quest for knowledge and fulfillment.[16]
Warren G. Harding (Scotch-Irish Irish, & English)
29th President 1921-23[25]
Harry S. Truman (Scotch-Irish,Irish, English & German)
33rd President 1945-53[26][27]
John F. Kennedy (Irish)
35th President 1961-63, (County Wexford),
Richard Nixon (Irish, Scotch-Irish, English & German)
37th President, 1969-74: The Nixon ancestors left Ulster in the mid-18th century; the Quaker Milhous family ties were with County Antrim and County Kildare.[16]
Jimmy Carter (Scotch-Irish Irish & English)
39th President 1977-1981 (County Antrim)[17]
Ronald Reagan (Irish, English & Scottish)
40th President 1981-89: He was the great-grandson, on his father's side, of Irish migrants from Ballyporeen, County Tipperary who came to America via Canada and England in the 1840s. His mother was of Scottish and English ancestry.[28]
George H. W. Bush (Irish, Scotch-Irish & English)
41st President 1989-93: County Wexford His ancestry has been traced to, Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke (known as Strongbow) and to Dermot MacMurrough, the Gaelic king of Leinster.[29][30]
Bill Clinton (Scotch-Irish Irish & English)
42nd President 1993-2001: He claims Irish ancestry despite there being no documentation of any of his ancestors coming from Ireland. However, his mother's maiden name was the Irish surname Cassidy. [16][31]
George W. Bush (Irish, Scotch-Irish & English)
43rd President 2001-09: One of his five times great-grandfathers, William Holliday, was born in Rathfriland, County Down, about 1755, and died in Kentucky about 1811-12. One of the President's seven times great-grandfathers, William Shannon, was born somewhere in County Cork about 1730, and died in Pennsylvania in 1784.[30]
Barack Obama (Kenyan (Luo), English, and Irish)
44th President 2009-: His father was part of the Luo ethnic group in Kenya. His mother's ancestry was predominantly English, but a few of his maternal ancestors hailed from Moneygall, County Offaly[32][33]




  • Billy the Kid - gunslinger [40] "aka Billy Bonney, from his birth in New York's Irish slums..."
  • Jon Brackin - Actor, musician
  • Molly Brown the Unsinkable Molly Brown was Born Molly Tobin (Irish born father) [41]
  • R. Nicholas Burns American Diplomat, Harvard Professor, Columnist and Lecturer. 19th Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, 17th United States Permanent Representative to NATO, served as United States Ambassador to Greece from 1997-2001.[42]
  • Eileen Collins - first female commander of a Space Shuttle [43] "The Irish American contribution to space exploration has continued in recent years with astronauts Kathryn Sullivan and Eileen Collins..."
  • Pamela Kyle Crossley - historian
  • Patrick Downey political dissident and human rights activist; denied political asylum in Ireland in 2011. Grandson of Walter F. Downey. Applied for political asylum in Russia in May 2012. Converted from Roman Catholic Church to Russian Orthodox Church. Deported and given life ban from Ireland on St. Patrick's Day 2011. Closed-down Dublin reception center for asylum seekers due to human rights violations. Caused political scandal in the Republic of Georgia with his February 6, 2012 blog focusing on corruption involving US government officials in Georgia, in relation to his former employer, Georgian billionaire businessman Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.[44][45][46][47][48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] "Irish based firm director John Huston" [2] "My father was born in 1884 in Toronto, Canada, of a Scottish mother... and an Irish father... In 1964 I became an Irish citizen."
  2. ^ Sayles - [3] "An awful lot of Americans have an Irish ancestry. Do you? Both of my parents are half Irish... it wasn't a real strong part of my upbringing. Being Catholic was but not being Irish... I just felt it would work best for my knowledge and for a general audience being set in Ireland.... Because you yourself are Irish?"
  3. ^ Oyez: William J. Brennan, Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q The Book of Irish American Poetry // Books // University of Notre Dame Press
  6. ^ Noonan - [4] "I pick Dublin because I was there most recently, and also because I'm Irish-American..."
  7. ^
  8. ^ Hammond, Ruth (August 1998). "Portrait of the Artist As a News Man". Pittsburgh City Paper (Pittsburgh). 
  9. ^ Russert - [5] "Irish America magazine has named him one of the top 100 Irish Americans in the country and he was selected as a Fellow of the Commission of European Communities." [6] "I thought that certainly people I grew up with in the Irish Catholic neighborhood in Buffalo would want to read it."
  10. ^ CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: The Irish (In Countries Other Than Ireland)
  11. ^ The Saratoga Rifleman
  12. ^ USS O’Brien (DD 975)
  13. ^ General John O'Neill
  14. ^
  15. ^ "The Presidents, Andrew Jackson". American Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j
  17. ^ a b "Ulster-Scots and the United States Presidents" (PDF). Ulter Scots Agency. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  18. ^ Northern Ireland Tourist Board. discovernorthernireland - explore more: Arthur Cottage Accessed 3 March 2010. "Arthur Cottage, situated in the heart of County Antrim, only a short walk from the village of Cullybackey is the ancestral home of Chester Alan Arthur, the 21st President of the USA."
  19. ^ "The Presidents, Benjamin Harrison". American Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning Of The West, Volume 1, Kessinger Publishing, 2004, pg. 77
  22. ^ "The Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt". American Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  23. ^ Marck, John T. "William H. Taft". Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  24. ^ "The Presidents, William Taft". American Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  25. ^ "Warren Gamaliel Harding". Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  26. ^ Marck, John T. "Harry S. Truman". Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  27. ^ "The Presidents, Harry S Truman". American Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  28. ^ "The Presidents, Ronald Reagan". American Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  29. ^ Chrisafis, Angelique (27 January 2005). "Scion of traitors and warlords: why Bush is coy about his Irish links". London: Guardian. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  30. ^ a b "American Presidents with Irish Ancestors". Directory of Irish Genealogy. Retrieved 15 April 2008. 
  31. ^ "The Presidents". American Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  32. ^ "The Presidents, Barack Obama". American Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  33. ^ "Ancestry of Barack Obama". William Addams Reitwiesner. Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  34. ^ Fellows List - October 2003 - MacArthur Foundation
  35. ^ John Philip Holland
  36. ^ a b [7]
  37. ^ Swebilius, Phyllis (2012-08-04). "Milford watching Olympic gymnast with local ties". Milford-Orange Bulletin. 
  38. ^ michael phelps
  39. ^
  40. ^ FrontierTimes - Outlaws - Billy The Kid
  41. ^ Molly Brown Museum control page
  42. ^ German-American Relations - Documents
  43. ^ [8]
  44. ^ "В США нет свободы слова" - Общество - МК
  45. ^ Гражданин США попросил политубежище в России - YouTube
  46. ^ ISSUU - SouthsidePeople_January05_2011 by Dublin People
  47. ^ რას მალავს რუსთავი 2 დაუნის წერილიდან - YouTube
  48. ^ Good night, Posterous
  49. ^ John Dunlap
  50. ^ Famous Irish Americans
  51. ^ WPT | Players | Players
  52. ^ James Hoban (1762–1831) - Biographies - Irish Architecture
  53. ^ Nsenga Burton. " Reveals Roots of MLK and Marcus Garvey". 
  54. ^ Jemison family
  55. ^ Paul Morphy Genealogy
  56. ^ >

External links[edit]