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President Obama is Irish too

March 17, 2011 - Andrea Johnson
Is President Obama wearing green today?

If he isn't, a leprechaun should be sneaking out any moment to pinch him. According to, one of the President's ancestors came to the United States from Ireland in 1850, escaping the potato famine that ravaged that country. Obama's mother Ann Dunham was descended from Falmouth Kearney, who emigrated when he was 19.

The wearing of the green seems to be hit and miss in the Minot Daily News newsroom today. Several people are sporting a hint of green here and there. A few others said they forgot it was St. Patrick's Day and aren't wearing any green at all. When I went to the high school this morning I spotted more green shirts on the teenagers and teachers than you might normally expect, but most people there were wearing colors other than green.

As for me, I'm wearing a kelly green sweater. It's the greenest shirt in the room. I'm about 1/4 Irish, counting my mom's Irish-American grandmother and a handful of Irish ancestors on my dad's side. Any Irish ancestors I have came over after the potato famine too, so I have something in common with President Obama. I figure I'm enough Irish so I'd better wear green to escape the leprechaun's pinching fingers.

Even people who aren't Irish get into the St. Patrick's Day spirit, though. Earlier this month my brother's 8-year-old niece by marriage told me all about the elaborate St. Patrick's Day birthday bash that her family holds every year for her dad, who was born on March 17. That family isn't Irish at all, even a little bit; my brother's niece tells me she's English and Norwegian. The family is also Lutheran, not Catholic. But there's still plenty of fun to be had for the honorary Irish birthday boy on St. Paddy's Day.


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