Continuing his focus on Ireland’s long association with the United States of America, EAMONN DUGGAN turns his attention to three presidents whose parents, or at least one of them were actually born in Ireland, beginning this week with Andrew Jackson.


One hundred years ago in 1924 the Irish Free State and the United States of America established diplomatic relations and set in train a process which saw the cultivation of an unbreakable bond of friendship between both counties. While relations were formalised in 1924 the United States had, for some time, been a country of refuge for many Irishmen and women since well before the famine and the decades which followed.
During the latter half of the nineteenth century many Irish-Americans went out of their way to encourage the blossoming republican movement in the ‘old country’ culminating with their political and financial support of the Easter Rising and the War of Independence.

Over the course of Irish-American history many men and women born in Ireland, as well as those born in America of Irish descent, have gone on to make wonderful contributions to that country’s evolvement as the greatest in the world.

As a nation, we Irish tend to take great pride in any notable American who is able to claim even the most tenuous of links to Ireland. We are particularly obsessed with American presidents and in the relatively recent decades we gloried in the fact that White House incumbents such John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Barak Obama and Joe Biden all enthusiastically alluded to their Irish heritage.
While they all had the perfect right to claim and celebrate their Irish ancestry and heritage, however tenuous it may be, not one of them can claim to be born of native Irish parents or parent.

Yet, if we look back among all of the men who made it to the White House during the course of America’s illustrious history we can identify three presidents whose parents or, at least one of them, were actually born in Ireland. As a result, their famous sons can be genuinely classed as first generation Irish-Americans who did well for themselves and went on to live the ultimate American dream.
The presidents in question are, Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan and Chester Arthur and over the next three weeks we are going to take a closer look at the life of each man in their turn.

Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States from 1829 to 1837, claimed to be a president for the common man. He was born in the backwoods settlement of Waxhaws in the Carolinas on 15 March, 1767, the son of Scots-Irish colonists, Andrew Jackson and Elizabeth Hutchinson, both of whom, had emigrated from Ulster in 1765.

Andrew Jackson Snr was born in Carrickfergus circa 1738 and he arrived in America with his wife and two older sons, Hugh (born 1763) and Robert (born 1764). Andrew Jackson Snr died in February 1767 at just 29 years of age as a result of a logging accident just three weeks before Andrew Jnr was born. Because of the tragedy which befell them, Elizabeth and her three sons went to live with her sister and brother-in-law.
Elizabeth hoped Andrew might become a clergyman but he showed little interest in that career. He and his older brothers, Hugh and Robert, joined the Patriot side during the American War of Independence, during which, Hugh died in June 1779.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own