Thousands gathered at College Green in Dublin yesterday to welcome President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to Ireland. This was the first day of a six-day European tour for the first couple, which includes visits to England, France, and Poland.
Earlier today Michelle and I visited Moneygall where we saw my ancestral home and dropped by the local pub. (Applause.) And we received a very warm welcome from all the people there, including my long-lost eighth cousin, Henry. (Laughter.) Henry now is affectionately known as Henry VIII. (Laughter.) And it was remarkable to see the small town where a young shoemaker named Falmouth Kearney, my great-great-great grandfather, my grandfather’s grandfather, lived his early life. And I was the shown the records from the parish recording his birth. And we saw the home where he lived.
And he left during the Great Hunger, as so many Irish did, to seek a new life in the New World. He traveled by ship to New York, where he entered himself into the records as a laborer. He married an American girl from Ohio. They settled in the Midwest. They started a family.
It’s a familiar story because it’s one lived and cherished by Americans of all backgrounds. It’s integral to our national identity. It’s who we are, a nation of immigrants from all around the world.
More of President Obama’s comments on the White House blog.