Written by Mike Houlihan
Special to The Irish American News
Most Irish Americans are skeptical of President Obama’s supposed discovery of his Irish roots. That pint of Guinness he was seen hoisting in Ireland last year was no doubt his first. The real reason he made the trip to the tiny village of Moneygall was a craven attempt to cozy up to the Irish American vote.
We’re also not buying Vice-President Joe Biden’s claims to be “Irish Catholic”. This chuckling buffoon is no more Catholic than Ian Paisley, but he still clings to the oxymoronic label of “pro-choice Catholic” like his pals Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin, and the late Teddy Kennedy. Actual Irish Catholics find an absurdity in the very idea of pro-choice Catholics. They may call themselves that, but the actual species does not exist. Ask the Pope.
The liberal media has done its best lately to malign the Irish Catholic credentials of Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan. But according to Rick Barrett, retired DEA Agent and Chicago history detective, Ryan is the most Irish of the four candidates running, and his heritage and religion make him “the real deal”- an Irishman.
Barrett’s previous investigative research projects are celebrated in the Irish American community. His work is notable because of his discovery of Irish immigrants as historic figures and then championing these individuals as pioneers in law enforcement, including The Chicago Police Department’s Constable Jeremiah Sullivan, the first Irishman to become a policeman in America; Marie Connelly Owens, the first policewoman in the USA; and Constable James Quinn, the first Chicago Police Officer killed in the line of duty.
The son of legendary Chicago police Lieutenant "Junior" Barrett, of 48th & Wabash-Southside of Chicago fame, Rick Barrett has a history himself of conducting criminal investigations and evidentiary historical research that bloodhounds would envy.
Among Barrett’s discoveries is the heritage of VP Candidate Paul Ryan:
Ryan is fourth-generation Irish, with a paternal line going back to Ullard in County Kilkenny.
Ryan’s people were farmers. His great-great grandparents came from a small townland registered as Clohasty in the 1820's, but now referred to as Cloghasty North. The townland itself was less than 110 acres.
James Ryan and Catherine Shea, Paul Ryan’s great-great grandparents, were married in the local Catholic parish of Graigeunamanagh.
Their first daughter, Ryan’s great-grand aunt, was born and baptized in the same parish in 1849, two years before the family emigrated.
So why is any of this important to the upcoming election? Because Irish Catholics tend to vote for their own. The best example of that is the late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley getting the vote out for a young man named Jack Kennedy in 1960 and winning him the election.
Ryan’s Irish roots could help determine how the battleground state of Ohio votes in the upcoming election.
Barrett says, “There are many Irish Catholics residing in the state of Ohio. In fact, there are so many Irish Catholics living there that, years ago, the University of Notre Dame, home of the ‘Fighting Irish', made an agreement with the Ohio State University to never schedule a regular season football game between the two universities. Why would that be? Because neither Notre Dame nor OSU wanted to divide the state’s Irish Catholics—a game between these two universities would divide Ohio with some cheering for the Irish Catholic ND, thereby dividing Ohioans. Two of Paul Ryan’s brothers, Stan and Tobin, graduated from Notre Dame while Paul chose to attend Miami University in Ohio.”
Paul Ryan’s Irish Catholic bona fides, as a Pro-Life candidate and with ancestors going back to Graiguenamanagh in County Kilkenny, could potentially sway Irish Catholic voters in Ohio to “stick with their own”, and very well swing the election to give the Republicans the victory on November 6th.
And that night in Boston might be when Paul Ryan stands before the cheering crowds of Irish Catholics and tells them, “There are only two kinds of people in this world ‘Irish and I-Wish”!