President Obama learned during the long campaign that he had some Irish roots, leading some to call him Barack O'Bama.
Today, he joked that it would have boosted his early political career if he had known earlier.
"As has been mentioned, it was brought to my attention last year that my great-great-great grandfather on my mother's side hailed from a small village in County Offaly," Obama said at today's St. Patrick's Day luncheon hosted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"Now, when I was a relatively unknown candidate for office, I didn't know about this part of heritage, which would have been very helpful in Chicago," he continue. "So I thought I was bluffing when I put the apostrophe after the O. I tried to explain that 'Barack' was an ancient Celtic name."
Addressing the visiting Irish prime minister Brian Cowen, the president said, "Taoiseach, I hope our efforts today put me on the path of earning that apostrophe."
Obama also took time to note an absence at the annual lunch: Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who is battling brain cancer:
"This St. Patrick's Day seems different than most because there's one person missing...one person who has touched all of us fortunate enough to walk these halls with his mentorship and his friendship; the hardest-working Irish American we know; friend to all, father to some: Teddy Kennedy. He sends his best."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.