Last week, when I came across the Fermanagh connection to Bill Clinton, I ’Googled’ to find out how many of the 46 US citizens making it to be the ‘main man’ in the White House had Irish ancestry.

Google kindly directed me to the website EPIC – The Irish Emigrant Museum - which I didn’t know existed. It is not just an online resource; it is a real museum in Dublin’s Docklands and looks like it might well be worth a visit.

According to the EPIC introduction to a segment on ‘US Presidents with Irish Ancestry’ no less than 23 of the 45 individual Presidents appear to ‘boast’ Irish connections.

The word ‘boast’ caught my attention.

It wasn’t clear whether it implied that producing US presidents was something the museum considered worth boasting about or that there were descendants of Irish emigrants among the other 22 presidents but they preferred not to mention them.

I also learned from the Discover Ulster-Scots website that they too had an interest in the contribution of Ulster-Scots folk emigrating from Ireland to America, claiming the majority of Presidents as their own.

That is a lot of presidents for one small island off the coast of the mainland - continental Europe. Barack Obama is the only US president to have no Western European heritage and the first Black person to be elected president.

Given the origins and history of the United States, the story of how being Irish as opposed to Italian, German, or even English became an advantage for those with political ambitions for high office is a fascinating and complicated story but does not cover the nation in glory, and given the political record of all 23 presidents, I wouldn’t be rushing to boast about having produced them.


Joe Biden, with blood ties to Mayo and Carlingford, is in the running to eclipse James Buchanan, whose people hailed from Ramelton in Donegal, as the worst president ever to grace the White House. Mr. Buchanan was the fifteenth President, serving between 1857 and 1861 on the eve of the American Civil War.

There are some stark similarities between these two men, notably their perseverance, piety and uncritical belief in their own moral superiority and political judgement, despite the steadily mounting evidence to contradict it and the dire consequence of their arrogance.

Buchanan consistently maintained a verbal opposition to Slavery while simultaneously refusing to take any action to challenge its spread across the new republic. As President, he was largely responsible for the rise of the Southern States, despite the demands from Abolitionists in the original Northern states to refuse slave owners who controlled the Southern regions to join the developing USA without committing to the abolition of slavery.

Buchanan insisted it was their constitutional right to do so, and to establish the laws of their own states. He, therefore, facilitated the growing number of Southern slave states that ultimately formed the confederacy bloc to protect slavery.

His ‘error of judgment’ led ultimately to the American Civil War. Buchannan maintained to the end of his days that history would vindicate him. History did not.

Joe Biden will undoubtedly go to his grave believing he did the ‘right thing’ in supporting Israel to and beyond the point of complicity in genocide, and potentially another global war. History will not vindicate him either.


The Pilgrim Fathers set sail from Plymouth in a small boat in 1620 facing the dangers of the Atlantic seeking refuge from persecution and a better life.

The USA was founded on Native American soil on July 4, 1776.

Slavery was abolished in 1865. White women and Black men secured the right to vote in 1920. Black women and other women of colour waited another 50-odd years for the obstacles deliberately put in place to limit the exercise of that right to be removed by law.

The indigenous population of the USA who survived the colonisation and the war, pestilence, and famine it brought upon them, were not granted citizenship in their own country until 1924.

The US presidential election is a competition between two men unfit for office. 

Trump, who currently holds the dubious honour of being the third worst president in the USA, and Biden, the man who after more than 150 years, will probably replace Buchanan as the worst US president ever.

Wasn’t it a long way down?


Elections are underway closer to home than in the USA.

EU parliament elections in the European Union to which the UK no longer belongs will be on June 7 in the Irish Republic.

In Britain, that part of the UK to which Northern Ireland never belonged, England and Wales had local elections last week putting more pressure on Rishi Sunak to call a Westminster election, while Scotland narrowly avoided Assembly elections.

Despite pretensions otherwise, the islands of Great Britain and Ireland are two small islands off the mainland of Europe and it's a small world so the outcome of these elections will impact the politics here.

The depth and strength of our humanity and integrity are being tested by the number of crises gathering momentum on the world stage.

Palestine, refugees and the drive towards never-ending war top the list.

They are not unrelated.

Racism, fascism and a growing disregard for International Law will not resolve poverty but will feed on it.

Those who don’t care will, as the children’s nursery rhyme warns, be made to care as all of this increasingly impacts on our daily lives.

This island is not poor. The poverty and disadvantage suffered by those living here results directly from the political choices governments make in refusing to face down those hoarding wealth the generations of their descendants could not spend, and relieving them of the political power they exercise in keeping themselves wealthy.

We need to start looking urgently at a whole–island economy and a political system of government that shares the wealth and resources of the island more equally.

If we don’t start soon, there are harder days yet to come in this place.