List of Americans of Irish descent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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.






Film directors and producers[edit]

Gangsters and mobsters[edit]

Journalists, news producers, talk show hosts[edit]

Law enforcement[edit]







At least 22 presidents of the United States have some Irish ancestral origins,[48] 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 Kennedy on the other hand has strong documented Irish origins. Also Ronald Reagan's great-grandfather was an Irish Roman Catholic, and his mother had some Scots-Irish ancestry. James K. Polk also had Scots-Irish Ancestry. Kennedy and Joe Biden were raised as practicing Catholics.

Andrew Jackson (Scotch-Irish and English)
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[49][50]
James Knox Polk (Scotch-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.[51]
James Buchanan (Scotch-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.[51] Buchanan also had pre-plantation Irish ancestry being a descendant of the O'Kanes from County Londonderry.
Andrew Johnson (Irish & English)
17th President, 1865–69: His grandfather supposedly left Mounthill, near Larne in County Antrim around 1750 and settled in North Carolina he was of English ancestry. 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. His Mother was Mary “Polly” McDonough of Irish ancestry 1782[51][52]
Ulysses S. Grant (Possibly Irish, Scotch-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.[53] His grandmother was Rachel Kelley, the daughter of an Irish pioneer.[54] Surname Kelly[55]
Chester A. Arthur (Scotch-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.[51][56][57]
Grover Cleveland (Irish, Anglo-Irish)
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.[51] Stephen Grover Cleveland was born to Ann (née Neal) and Richard Falley Cleveland. Ann Neal was of Irish ancestry and Richard Falley Cleveland was of Anglo-Irish and English ancestry[58]
Benjamin Harrison (Scotch-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.[51][59]
William McKinley (Scotch-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 congresses held in the late 19th century. His second term as president was cut short by an assassin's bullet.[51][60]
Theodore Roosevelt (Irish, Scotch-Irish, Dutch, Scotch, 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."[61] 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"[note 1] before the hyphen as of the man who puts German or Irish or English or French before the hyphen."[63]
William Howard Taft (Irish & English)
27th President 1909–13: His great-great-great-grandfather, Robert Taft, was born in 1640 in Ireland and immigrated to America during the mid 17th century. Robert Taft was from County Louth and died in Mendon, Worcester, Massachusetts.[64][65]
Woodrow Wilson (Scotch-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 a 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.[51]
Warren G. Harding (Scotch-Irish & English)
29th President 1921–23[66]
Harry S. Truman (Scotch-Irish & German)
33rd President 1945–53[67][68]
John F. Kennedy (Irish)
35th President 1961–63 (ancestors from 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 and County Cork.[51]
Jimmy Carter (Scotch-Irish & English)
39th President 1977–1981 (County Antrim)[53]
Ronald Reagan (Irish, English & Scottish)
40th President 1981–89: He was the great-grandson, on his father's side, of Irish migrants from County Tipperary who came to America via Canada and England in the 1850s and 1870s. His mother was of Scottish and English ancestry.[69]
George H. W. Bush (Irish and English)
41st President 1989–93: County Wexford historians have found that his now apparent ancestor, Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke (known as Strongbow for his arrow skills) – is remembered as a desperate, land-grabbing warlord whose calamitous foreign adventure led to the suffering of generations. Shunned by Henry II, he offered his services as a mercenary in the 12th-century invasion of Wexford in exchange for power and land. He would die from a festering ulcer in his foot, which his enemies said was the revenge of Irish saints whose shrines he had violated. The genetic line can also be traced to Dermot MacMurrough, the Gaelic king of Leinster reviled in history books as the man who sold Ireland by inviting Strongbow's invasion to save himself from a local feud.[70][71]
Bill Clinton (Irish, Scotch-Irish & English)[72]
42nd President 1993–2001: He claims Irish ancestry despite there being no documentation of any of his ancestors coming from Ireland.[51][73]
George W. Bush (Irish, Scottish, Dutch, Welsh, French, German & 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.[71]
Barack Obama (Kenyan, English & Irish)
44th President 2009–2017: His paternal ancestors came to America from Kenya and his maternal ancestors came to America from England. His ancestors lived in New England and the South and by the 1800s most were in the Midwest. His father was Kenyan and the first of his family to leave Africa.[74][failed verification][75] His great great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, was born in the Irish town of Moneygall.[76]
Joe Biden (Irish and English)
46th President 2021-present: Through his father, his ancestors are partly from Ireland,[77] and his family are practicing Roman Catholics.[78]




See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roosevelt was referring to "nativists" - not American Indians - in this context.[62]


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Further reading[edit]

  • Barkan, Elliott Robert, ed. (2001). Making it in America: A Sourcebook on Eminent Ethnic Americans. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781576070987.
  • Byrne, James Patrick, Philip Coleman, and Jason Francis King, eds. Ireland and the Americas: culture, politics, and history: a multidisciplinary encyclopedia (3 vol. ABC-CLIO, 2008)
  • Delaney, John J. Dictionary of American Catholic biography (Doubleday, 1984), 625pp; 1500 short biographies, about half Irish
  • Glazier, Michael, ed. The encyclopedia of the Irish in America (University of Notre Dame Press, 1999)

External links[edit]