Kaine’s Strong Irish Roots

Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, whose Irish roots are in Longford and Kilkenny.
Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, whose Irish roots are in Longford and Kilkenny.

By Tom Deignan, Contributor
August / September 2016

It worked for Barack Obama.

Hillary Clinton may have had this in mind when she selected an Irish Catholic senator – which is also current vice president Joe Biden’s background – to be her running mate.

In July, Clinton selected former Virginia governor and current U.S. senator Tim Kaine, 58, as her vice presidential choice.

Kaine has Irish roots in Longford and Kilkenny and all of his grandparents were born to Irish immigrants.

“Just got off the phone with Hillary. I’m honored to be her running mate,” Kaine said after the announcement. “Can’t wait to hit the trail.”

Donald Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, also has strong Irish roots so whoever wins the election in November, an Irish American will have a prominent presence in the White House.

Kaine was honored by the American Ireland Fund earlier this year and spoke about the importance of his heritage.

“I am about as stone Irish as you can get for somebody whose family has been in the country for about 150 years. All four of my grandparents were born to Irish immigrants, three to families where both the mom and dad were from Ireland and one where the mom was Irish and the dad was Scottish born, but moved to Northern Ireland before emigrating to the U.S. I am pure black-Irish. There is not a red-headed Norseman anywhere in our family but that makes this very special.”

Kaine traveled to Ireland with his family in 2006, when he was governor of Virginia.

“After spending some time in Dublin,” the Irish Independent noted, “(the Kaines) traveled to Killashee, a blink-and-you’d-miss-it village… outside Longford town.”

The paper added: “After wandering through fields, the Kaines eventually found the remains of the home where P.J. Farrell, Mr. Kaine’s great grandfather, was born.”

Kaine said: “We went to Dublin and my children were having a blast, they were all teenagers, and when I said we have to spend a day traipsing around in the countryside instead of hanging around in Temple Bar and Grafton Street, they were extremely disappointed in their father.”

He added: “As we drove to Longford, which is not exactly a tourist zone, they continued to complain – but when we landed in Longford town my 11-year-old daughter said to me: ‘Dad, why does everyone look like us?’ They started to get it.… I told my children, ‘This is where we come from.’” ♦

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