THE FOURTH of July is a special day in the history of the United States – and Ireland, for that matter.
Though the close ties between the two countries is well-documented, what many may not realise is that the Irish played a key role in the formation and foundation of what we now know as America.
Here are 7 uniquely Irish connections to the history of the US.
7. Discovering America
Patrick Maguire was one of several Irishmen who set sail for America under the stewardship of Christopher Columbus. The Irish-born sailor was among the first to step foot in North America in 1492.
6. The American Revolutionary War
Dublin-born general Richard Montgomery holds a unique place in US history as the first general to be killed during what came to be known as the American Revolutionary War. He was slain at the Battle of Quebec in 1775 during the invasion of Canada.
5. The Declaration of Independence
It’s little known fact that three of the 56 signatories of The Declaration of Independence were born on the island of Ireland, with five more of Irish descent.
They include the Ulster-born lawyer James Smith, Antrim ironmaster George Taylor and Matthew Thornton, who practiced medicine in the US, having moved over from Limerick aged 3.
4. The American Navy
The maritime arm of the US military is often credited as originating with an Irishman.
Born in Wexford, John Barry was the first captain to be placed in command of a US warship commissioned for service under the Continental flag, earning the moniker of "The Father of the American Navy" in the process.
3. The President of the United States
As many as 15 different US presidents have some form of Irish heritage. The most notable of these were Andrew Jackson and James Buchanan, who both had parents born and raised in Ireland.
2. The Star Spangled Banner
British composer John Stafford Smith is often, mistakenly, credited as the composer of the Star Spangled Banner. In reality, the composition actually dates back further.
Turlough O’Carolan, a blind harpist from Ireland, is actually the musician behind the song, which first featured in O Carolan’s earlier composition Bumper Squire Jones. O’Carolan died 35 years before the American revolution so never heard the song in its more famous form.
1. The White House
The construction of the President’s formal residence was a wholly Irish affair. The building was designed by Irishman James Hoban while Irish immigrant labourers poured their blood, sweat and tears into the construction.
To this day, the White House is officially twinned with Dublin’s Leinster House.