Was JFK related to Michael Collins? Fascinating tale of US President’s West Cork roots

THIS May 29th 2017 marks the 100th birthday of John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States. One of the President’s Great Grandmothers on his father’s side came from West Cork.

Speaking this morning to Patricia Messinger on C103’s Cork Today Show Tim Crowley from the Michael Collins Centre in Clonakilty explained the history behind the connection.

Her name was Margaret Field and she came from the townland of Courleigh North, a kilometre north of Sam’s Cross, half way between Clonakilty and Rosscarbery. Margaret Field was born on the 26th of January 1835 and later emigrated to Boston, where she married James F Hickey. One of their children was Mary Augusta Hickey who married Patrick Joseph Kennedy and they were the parents of Joe Kennedy, the President’s father.

Margaret Field’s father was Patrick Field and he is listed in the tithe records of 1833 with his brother Francis, occupying 42 acres of land in the townland of Courleigh. Patrick had married Mary Sheehy on the 6th of February 1825, she was the daughter of Patrick Sheehy and Joan McCarthy Quirke from the neighbouring townland of Woodfield.

Michael Collins was also born in the townland of Woodfield and his brother Johnny in an interview recorded in the early 1960s, mentioned that one of their ancestors was also a woman from the local Sheehy family. The question is often asked, were Michael Collins and John F Kennedy related?

In 1995 as United States Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith visited the birthplace of Michael Collins at Woodfield. On that occasion Michael O’Donovan of Cumann Seanchais Cloich na gCoillte presented Ambassador Kennedy with information detailing her family’s local roots.

Listen Back to Tim Crowley of the Michael Collins Centre speaking to Patricia Messinger on C103’s Cork Today show about JFK’s Cork roots.