Gates, Crowley Share Irish Ancestor

Better make that White House beer a Guinness
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2009 9:25 AM CDT
Henry Louis Gates Jr. visited Dublin to learn more about his Irish roots.   (AP Photo/Jane Reed, File)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The beer James Crowley and Henry Louis Gates have with the president should be a Guinness if genetics are anything to go by, Irish Central reports. The Harvard professor and the Cambridge cop—along with about 3 million other people—are distant cousins with shared Irish heritage, both descended from 4th-century Irish warlord Niall of the Nine Hostages, whose prowess on the battlefield and in the bedroom was legendary.

Niall—whose name lives on today as O'Neill—was famed for defeating the English, the Scots, the French, and even the Romans. His dynasty continued until the 16th-century English conquest of Ireland. Gates learned of his Irish roots in a PBS series on ancestry he hosted last year. The professor discovered he was descended from an Irishman and a slave woman, and was astonished when researchers traced his DNA back to the ancient king.