Mark FitzGerald, son of the late Taoiseach Dr Garret Fitzgerald, spoke at the weekend of how the ancestral connections of the FitzGeralds from Skeheenarinky and Reagans of Ballyporeen helped sway British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher towards the ground breaking Anglo-Irish Agreement.
Speaking at the inaugural Dr Garret FitzGerald summer school in Killarney, Co Kerry, Mr FitzGerald said the Reagan’s “huge” help to Ireland in the run-up to the 1985 signing of the Anglo-Irish agreement has not been fully appreciated.
The FitzGeralds and Reagans came from the same Tipperary hillside, just three and a half miles apart.
The FitzGeralds and the Reagans had been godparents at each others christenings, Mr FitzGerald said in a presentation on his father’s life at the school organised by Young Fine Gael.
Garret’s grandfather Patrick FitzGerald, a labourer, emigrated to London in the 1850s/1860s and Reagan’s great grandfather left for London around this time, afterwards emigrating to the US.
His presentation was accompanied by slides of Mr Reagan and Dr FitzGerald together.
“Garret loved young people, he loved Fine Gael and loved politics,” Mr FitzGerald said.
Ronald Reagan’s great-grandfather was born in Ballyporeen and Reagan visited there in 1984.
He spoke movingly about his Irish ancestry and Dr FitzGerald obviously picked up on this, using it to persuade Margaret Thatcher to come around to the terms of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.