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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 May 2007, 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK
Rector traces Obama's Irish roots
Barack Obama addresses Democrats in Boston, July 2004
Barack Obama is a Chicago-based civil rights lawyer
US presidential hopeful Barack Obama's roots have possibly been traced to an 18th century Irish shoemaker.

Church of Ireland rector Canon Stephen Neill said the Hawaiian-born Illinois senator's ancestors hailed from the village of Moneygall in County Offaly.

He said Mr Obama is directly descended from shoemaker Joseph Kearney's son Fulmuth, who emigrated to the US.

Canon Neill was contacted by a Salt Lake City genealogist who told him of the possible link with his parish.

The rector came across the records after retrieving them from the home of a parishioner who died recently.

"There were summary documents going back to the early 1800s and even the late 1700s," he said.

"The leg work wasn't huge to be honest. I found a lot of these Kearney entries," he said.

The rector scoured historical documents to link his parish with Mr Obama

"While I didn't find an entry for Fulmuth I did find the records of his parents, Joseph and Phebe, and his three siblings."

Canon Neill is "convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that this is categorical evidence of Mr Obama's link to this part of the world".

Mr Obama is being tipped as a formidable Democratic Party candidate to replace George W Bush as president.

He first shot to national - and international - prominence with a speech that stirred the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

The son of a Kenyan man and a white woman from Kansas, Mr Obama emphasised his personal history in a speech reflecting traditional American ideals of self-reliance and aspirations.

"Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place - America, which stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before," he said.

Profile: Barack Obama
10 Feb 07 |  Americas


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