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Sean who? Spicer’s Cork roots are still a mystery

Sunday, 5th February, 2017 7:10am

Story by Jackie Keogh
Sean who? Spicer’s Cork roots are still a mystery

Sean Spicer: are his Cork links ‘alternative facts’?

HISTORIANS and genealogists are clamouring to find White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s links to Kinsale.

Local historians and genealogists have scoured documents, such as land valuations, and the Census records of 1901 and 1911, and have come up with nothing to make the connection.

But one genealogist has persevered and traced Sean’s father, Michael Spicer, to his grandfather, Harry Spicer, and he confirmed that in the 1910 American census William F Spicer – Sean’s great-grandfather – gave his age as 40, and Ireland as his country of origin.

The records show that William Spicer was married to Margaret Sullivan – a woman who gave her birthplace as Massachusetts, and that he recorded his occupation as ‘boatman’, but it is unclear if he worked on boats, or made them, or where he was based before he emigrated. There is not one Spicer listed on irishgenealogy.ie, and a search of the Seamen’s records also comes up empty. However, it is considered likely that William Spicer emigrated with his family at the age of ten.

A US Department of Labor, Immigration and Naturalization Service document gives the year of William F Spicer’s birth as 1864; his date of arrival in the US as October 25th 1872; and his date of ‘naturalization’ as January 18th 1894.

The records also show that William F Spicer went on to join the navy and was honoured for his bravery during the Spanish-American war.

President William McKinley presented him with the Medal of Honour and the citation acknowledged Gunner’s Mate First Class Spicer’s ‘heroism in the perilous work of sweeping for and disabling of twenty-seven contact mines.’

Simon Carswell, Washington correspondent with The Irish Times, said Sean Spicer promised to produce his Kinsale ancestor’s birth cert, but hasn’t done so yet because ‘he’s exceptionally busy’ at the moment.

But the controversial press secretary’s links to Kinsale might not go down well with everyone, given some Twitter feedback to The Southern Star. 

One woman, Siobhan Lydon, tagged The Southern Star saying: ‘I’m not sure this is something the people of Kinsale would be eager to advertise.’

And a local free paper tagged The Southern Star and Sean Spicer saying: ‘For real? Maybe you should ask the people of Kinsale first whether they want that highlighted?’