US Presidents have a long tradition of forging links with Ireland. In the last six decades numerous presidents have played up their Irish ancestory with many visiting Ireland in an effort to appeal to the Irish American electorate. Perhaps the strangest link though has to be that of President John Quincy Adams. He never visited the country and paid little atention to Irish politics yet he penned an extensive epic poem on medieval Irish history.
Adams was president between 1825–1829, long before Irish Americans were a politically significant power block in the United States – large scale Irish emigration would only begin during the famine in the late 1840’s. It comes as a surpirse then that in 1832 Adams wrote and published a lengthy epic poem on the Norman Conquest of Ireland entitled “Dermot Mac Morrogh or the Conquest of Ireland; an historical tale of the twelfth century”.
Dermot mc Morrogh spelled Diarmuid mac Murchadha or Dermot MacMurrough was the Gaelic King who sought Norman military help to restore him the Kingship of Leinster after being deposed by the High King. When this help materialised it quickly became a full scale invasion.
What makes this poem unusual and surprising is that Quincy Adams had no connection to Ireland whatsoever. His father the US President John Adams and mother Abigail Smith were both of English Puritan Ancestry. Aside from this he showed little interest in the country or its politics and apparently prior to the writing the poem he had scant knowledge of Ireland and had to educate himself when writing the poem. If you know about the origins of the poem please comment below.