Obama ancestor opposed corruption in Dublin


BARACK OBAMA had a distant Irish cousin who went on to become provost of Trinity College and later bishop of Ossory, new research shows.

It has also been revealed that an Irish ancestor opposed political corruption in Dublin.

The Democratic nominee for the US presidential election is directly descended from the Kearneys of Shinrone and Moneygall, Co Offaly, the research has revealed. His ancestry had already been traced back to a shoemaker in Moneygall on the Offaly-Tipperary border. Further research shows a Tipperary connection.

The research by Eneclann Ltd, the Trinity College-based electronic publisher of historical sources and data, traced the family tree back to the late 17th century.

The Kearneys were involved in making wigs, demand for which was apparently brisk. People wore wigs because they did not wash their hair, thinking that water would spread disease.

The Kearneys prospered in the 18th century, with John Kearney, a distant cousin, becoming provost of Trinity College and later bishop of Ossory.

Michael Kearney, described as Obama's sixth great granduncle, entered the guild of barber surgeons and periwigmakers in 1717, and was enrolled as a hairdresser in the freemen's rolls in 1718. He had the right to vote in elections to the city council in Dublin.

In the 1750s, "when the aristocracy tried to gerrymander elections in Dublin city council, to put in their own candidates", Michael Kearney was prominent among guildsmen in opposing them.

After the 1780s, the fortunes of this line of the Kearneys declined because of economic changes after the Act of Union and a downturn in the fashion of wig-making.

The research shows that as the 19th century progressed, the family line from which Mr Obama is descended failed to prosper and they emigrated to the US.