All posts by paddycummins

Paddy Cummins has written fifteen books. Four novels, an epic sea book, a memoir, an autobiography, three travel books, a self-help book, a book of selected poems and three collections of short stories and poems. Paddy lives in Ireland during the summer and spends the winter months in Malta. To see all Paddy's books just click on 'My Books'.

USA PRESIDENTS WITH IRISH ANCESTRY

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There are 40 million Americans with Irish blood whose forefathers came from the Emerald Isle. They have become important members of the United States family and many have been leaders in the commercial and political life of America.

US President George Bush and first lady Laura Bush dance at an Inaugural Ball.

How many US presidents has there been that claim Irish ancestry? According to Wikipedia, there has been 22 American presidents, who claim to be of Irish descent. That’s around half of all US Presidents! President Obama, who in fact does have an Irish connection, was the 44th US President and claims Irish ancestry through Falmouth Kearney, the son of a shoemaker, born in Moneygall, County Offaly.

Here are six US Presidents that inherited the famous green blood and proud of it.

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When you consider that Ireland is only about as large as the state of Indiana, has a population of approx 6 million (North & South), it’s quite amazing that a country as small as this can have had such a huge impact on the politics of one of the larger, and probably most powerful, countries in the world.

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Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States.
His parents — Andrew Jackson and Elizabeth Hutchinson — were from Carrickfergus, County Antrim, Ireland, as was his paternal grandfather, Hugh Jackson, who died there ca 1782. His great-grandfather, Thomas Jackson, was of Ballyregan in Dundonald, County Down, Ireland.

Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States.
His mother, Hannah Simpson, was the granddaughter of a John Simpson who was born in Northern Ireland ca 1738.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States.
His paternal great-grandparents were Patrick Kennedy, who was born in Dunganstown, County Wexford, Ireland ca 1823, and Bridget Murphy, who was born probably Owenduff, County Wexford, Ireland ca 1827. His maternal great-grandparents were Thomas Fitzgerald, who was born in Bruff, County Limerick, Ireland in 1823, and Rose Anna Cox, who was born probably in Tomregan or Kinawley, County Cavan, Ireland ca 1835.

Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the United States.
His great-grandfather, Michael Reagan, is believed to be from County Tipperary, Ireland and possibly is the Michael Reagan (or Ryan) baptized there in Ballyporeen  3 September 1829, and being the one who immigrated to the U.S. via Canada ca 1858. His wife, Catherine Mulcahey, was also born in Ireland. Reagan’s other identified Irish ancestors include: Patrick Cusick, b. ca 1825, Patrick Mulcahey, and (possibly) Sarah Higgins, the wife of Patrick Cusick; she was born ca 1825 in Ireland or New York.

George W Bush, 43rd President.  County Wexford historians have found that his now apparent ancestor, Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke having been shunned by Henry II,  offered his services as a mercenary in the 12th-century Norman invasion of Wexford.

Barack Hussein Obama’s roots in Ireland go back to 1850, when Falmouth Kearney, the 19-year-old son of a local shoemaker, left Moneygall to begin a new life in the United States.
The Kearney family probably originated in Tipperary before settling in County Offaly, then known as King’s County, in the 1700s. One branch of the family moved to Dublin and entered the very profitable business of making wigs. By helping out with the wig-making business, the midlands relatives prospered enough to purchase property rights in Moneygall and Shinrone around 1800.

Barack Obama is the great-great grandson of Falmouth Kearney’s youngest daughter, Mary Ann.

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MORE GEMS OF IRELAND

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These beautiful Irish emblems handcrafted in the heart of Ireland can be yours

wherever you are in the world.

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THE CLADDAGH RING

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The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring which is exchanged as a token of love and is often worn as a wedding ring.

The Claddagh ring is made up of two hands joined together with a single heart, on top of which rest a crown. The hands joined together represent friendship, the heart in the centre is for love, while the crown represents loyalty.

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The ring dates from the 17th century and originated in the village of Claddagh in Galway, Ireland. There are a number of stories which claim the origin of the Claddagh ring. The most popular one is that the ring is  linked to the Joyce name. Margaret Joyce, a Galway native, inherited her wealth from her husband Domingo de Rona. He was a wealthy Spanish merchant who traded with the city of Galway. When he died, Margaret returned to Galway and used her fortune to build bridges and help the people of her native place. She also went on to marry the Mayor of Galway, Oliver Og French, in 1596. It is said the first Claddagh ring was dropped into her lap by an eagle in reward for all her good work, her generosity  and her charity.

The ring became popular among non-Irish communities throughout the world after it was worn by Queen Victoria and later by Queen Alexandra and King Edward VII. In 1962, a brooch and cuff-links with the Claddagh motif were presented to Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco. Somewhere along the way the custom of how to wear the ring was established; with the heart pointing inwards if your heart is taken and outwards if your heart is looking for love.

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This iconic Irish symbol hand-carved in pure copper is now available as a wall plaque.

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ST. BRIDGET’S CROSS.

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February 1st is St. Bridget’s Day when all across Ireland people still adhere to the old tradition of mounting a St. Bridget’s cross in a place of honour in their home to protect against fire and evil spirits.

The cross is made from rushes, but sometimes straw is used.  A distinctive square of woven rushes is the centrepiece, from which four radials extend, each tied at the end.

In the homes of Ireland children learn the old legend about how this cross came into existence.  The story of St. Brigid has mythical significance in their young imaginations and they grow to love and admire her independent spirit, her determination and dedication to God.

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An old pagan chieftain lay delirious on his deathbed in Kildare.  In some versions of the story this chieftain is her father.  His servants summoned Brigid to his bedside, in the hope this saintly woman might be able to calm his restless spirit.

As she sat by his bedside, trying to calm and console him, she picked up some of the rushes which were strewn across the floor of the room.  As her fingers played with the dry strands, she started weaving them together, eventually forming a cross.

While she worked she explained the meaning of the cross to the sick man.  Her calming words brought peace to his soul. The chieftain’s fever broke, and he grew quiet.  Captivated by her lesson of love and compassion, the old chieftain was baptised as a christian, just before his death.

When word of his conversion reached beyond his lands, news spread fast.  Ever since, Irish people have made rush crosses to commemorate the occasion and honour St. Bridget as their patron female saint.

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This charming Irish symbol can adorn your home wherever you are in the world.

Handmade from pure copper this emblem of mythical Ireland can be yours by clicking on this link: http://www.kilteelcoppercraft.com

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THE SHAMROCK

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THE SHAMROCK

The shamrock plant is recognised the world over as the badge of Ireland. It is revered by Irish people all over the world, is the logo of the Irish Tourist Board, Failte Ireland,  and you can find the emblem on everything from the tail fin of the national airline, Aer Lingus to the lampposts of Dublin.

The real, living shamrock is traditionally worn on the lapel every St Patrick’s Day.  The plants are picked in the fields, shared between family members who proudly attach bushy sprigs to their clothing.

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It was the Celtic druids who started the shamrock on its path to Irish glory! They believed the number 3 to be a perfect number and, as such, to have inherent mystical powers. No one is quite sure why they believed this but it is possible the number signified  past, present and future, or sky, earth and underground.

Whatever the reason, it is no wonder the humble shamrock plant, with its three leaves, was revered. St Patrick, when he set out to convert the Celtic inhabitants of Ireland, would have been fully aware of their predilection for the number three and, according to legend, he used the plant to illustrate the Christian concept of the Trinity  to show how one God divided into three: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Whether or not the story of St Patrick using the shamrock plant in his teachings is true doesn’t really matter because by the time it was reported as truth, we Irish had already chosen it as our symbol. It appears on medieval tombs and on old coins, and a written reference dating from 1681 describes it as a badge worn on the lapel on St Patrick’s Day.

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This treasured Irish emblem, handmade from pure copper in the heartland of Ireland can be yours wherever you are in the world.

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The Celtic Harp

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It once graced the flag of the Republic, it still appears on official government documents as well as the Presidential flag, and it is displayed on Irish coins. For centuries, the harp has been a beloved emblem of Ireland. In fact, it is said that the Irish concentrated so much of their musical ability into playing the harp, that for many years, the development of music in Ireland was brought to a relative standstill.

So, how did the harp become an emblem synonymous with the Emerald Isle? According to tradition, an early king of Ireland whose name was David, took the harp of the Psalmist as his badge. This might explain why it was once called a cruit which can mean lyre.

 

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Whichever way the harp became Ireland’s own unique instrument, and subsequently, its national emblem, history tells us that the people who played it were highly trained professionals who usually performed for the nobility. They were held in very high regard and were often asked to accompany a bardic poet who was giving a reading. However, with the emigration of Ireland’s leading families in the 17th and early 18th century, there was a steep decline in the harping tradition and the last traditionally-trained harpist died in the mid-19th century. Interestingly, these superb musicians played with their fingernails and not with the flesh of the fingertips as is done today. It’s also interesting to note that new families of English descent were hospitable to well-known harpists such as O’Carolan, and it was a man from the north, Dr. Michael MacDonnell, and an Englishman, Edward Bunting, who assembled the last harpers in Belfast in 1792. Even though very generous fees were offered, they were able to attract only 11 players from the whole country. Bunting attempted to write down as much of the music as he could and his collection is incredibly important because it contains the only remaining remnants of what the ancient tradition must have been like.

So, while this oldest emblem of Ireland is still very much apparent – even to appearing on the Guinness label – most of the ancient airs and melodies it once produced are long gone. Perhaps the first verse of a famous poem by Thomas Moore says it best:

“The harp that once through Tara’s halls the soul of music shed,
now hangs as mute on Tara’s walls, as if that soul were fled.
So sleeps the pride of former days,
so glory’s thrill is o’er,
and hearts that once beat high for praise,
now feel that pulse no more.”

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Copper Cover

This exquisite Irish Harp, the unique symbol of Ireland, handcrafted in pure copper can be yours, wherever you are in the world.

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THE CELTIC CROSS

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Celtic Crosses dot hundreds of cemeteries across Ireland and Scotland, as well as Wales, England, Europe, and beyond. Few symbols are as recognisable as the Celtic Cross for the embodiment of Celtic Christianity. It is popularly believed that St. Patrick introduced the Celtic Cross in Ireland, during his conversion of the kings from paganism to Christianity. Some also believe it was St. Columba or St. Declan who introduced it. Other theories site construction strength to the design – the circle strengthened the cross beams, preventing breakage or destruction by the elements or time.

 

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While the Celtic Cross is certainly a Christian symbol, it has its roots in ancient pagan beliefs at the same time. The stone circle at Calanais, on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland, is formed in a rough circle, with an even-armed cross within it. This is believed to be a sun symbol to the creators of the stone circle, which became a sacred shape to the Celts. St Patrick is said to have taken this ancient sun symbol and extended one of the lengths to form a melding of the Christian Cross and the sun symbol, and thus the birth of the Celtic Cross.

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This beautiful Celtic Cross, handmade in the heart of Ireland from pure copper can be yours as a token of ‘The Spirit of Ireland.’

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