How Nine Black Celebrities With Irish Heritage Are Shaping The World


Traditionally, St. Patrick's Day is an overlooked day within the Black community. In spite of the small Black population within the country of Ireland, the impact of Black Irish descendants is felt around the world. In fact, some of your favorite entertainers, athletes and public figures have links to Ireland. In the world of music, the GRAMMY-winning musician Alicia Keys was raised by an Irish-Italian mother. In the world of sports, Chris Hughton made history as the first Black Irishman to play for the country's national soccer team back in 1979. After his playing career ended, he managed prominent soccer clubs like Newcastle United, Norwich City and Brighton & Hove Albion. The listed of Black Irish descendants goes on and on. Here are just a few that you can learn a bit more about on St. Patrick's Day.

Barack Obama

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Barack Obama, back when he was president, learned that he has Irish ancestry on his mother’s side! His maternal great-great-great grandfather was Falmouth Kearney, who lived in Moneygall, Ireland. Obama was so excited to get in touch with his Irish heritage, he dropped by the tiny Irish town to enjoy a pint of Guinness with a distant cousin and the locals! Now, Moneygall has a popular tourist spot dedicated to the Obamas.

Dwayne Johnson

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This wrestler-turned-movie star is known for celebrating his Samoan heritage, but he also revealed that he has Irish blood. Dwayne Johnson revealed his Irish ancestry in an interview with entertainment.ie back in 2014.

"I have some strong Irish blood on my dad's side of the family," Johnson told reporters. "I've always felt like I was tough and had a little bit of luck and I can drink."

Mariah Carey

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The Queen of Christmas said her mother is proud of her Irish roots! Mariah Carey’s mother Patricia (née Hickey), is a former opera singer and vocal coach.

"My mother's so Irish, she loves Ireland, she's like, yay, Ireland! Waving the flag and singing 'When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.' And that's great. I appreciate that and respect it," Carey said.

Ruth Negga 

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Actress best known for her roles in World War Z, Loving, and 12 Years A Slave. Ruth Negga was born to an Ethiopian father and an Irish mother in Addis Ababa. Her portrayal of "Mildred Loving" earned her nominations for both the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in 2016. 

Phil Lynott

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Co-founder and lead musician of the rock band Thin Lizzy. Phil Lynott was born to an Irish mother and a father from Guyana. He also wrote songs for the band which had an active run between the late 1960s and early 1980s. He died at the age of 36 in 1986.

Paul McGrath

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Considered one of the all-time greats in European football, Paul McGrath led Ireland during the 1990 and 1994 World Cups. He also led the team Euro’88 game, which marked Ireland’s first international tournament.

Rejjie Snow

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Rejjie Snow was raised by a Nigerina father and Irish-Jamaican mother in Dublin, Ireland. The Black Irish artist has brought the sound of Dublin to some of the biggest stages in music. Over the course of his career, he's worked with the likes of Joey Bada$$, Jessie Boykins III, Aminé and GRAMMY winner Kaytranda.

Cassia O'Reilly

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The name, Cassia O'Reilly, may sound familiar, but her stage name, Bonzai, may be a bit more recognizable. Raised in Dublin by a Black mother and Irish father, O'Reilly was born to make music. Following in the footsteps of her parents, who were both musicians, she developed a love for songwriting. Over time, her work allowed her to tour with acts such as NAO and Mura Masa, while also being featured in Billboard.

Rianna Jarrett

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At just 26 years old, Rianna Jarrett has established herself as one of the most accomplished soccer players in the country's history. The Wexford, Ireland native was named the Women's National League Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019. She currently plays for Brighton & Hove Albion W.F.C. in England.


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