What do Bill Clinton, President Obama, and Tom Cruise have in common with each other that you could likely also have? They all have official proof of their Irish ancestry.
It is a sense of pride for people all over the world to be a part of the Irish diaspora or to be of Irish descent, but in the past 4 years only slightly more than 3,000 people of the estimated 70 million-plus with Irish roots worldwide have applied for a certificate to prove their treasured ancestry.
The Certificate of Irish Heritage is an official document given by the Irish Government to recognize the Irish ancestry of many around the world who are unable to apply for Irish citizenship.
However only 3,223 certificates have been given, a number that includes 298 “presentation certificates” to high profile individuals that did not apply, such as the above mentioned celebrities. Unfortunately, with relatively few certificates purchased, the program is now coming to an end.
Government officials announced that they will discontinuing the certificates as of August 24, 2015, which means those who are interested in being recognized by Ireland as officially being of Irish descent have less than a week to apply for their very own certificate.
Certificates cost €45 (or about $50) for an unframed certificate, or €120 ($132) for a framed one. Certificates are printed on high quality vellum and include a choice of backgrounds to reflect favorite images of Ireland, including Celtic knots, the Irish landscape, and ships, designed to evoke reflection on emmigration.
According to the U.S Census in 2013, almost half of the 70 million-strong reside in the United States. Approximately 33.3 million people claimed Irish ancestry during census data collection, a number that has grown exponentially from the 5 million Irish emigrants who left Ireland for the U.S. between the 1700s and 1900s.
It’s a wonder why, with such a large global population associating with Irish identify, more people haven’t taken advantage of the program. Perhaps being Irish doesn’t boil down to just a certificate on the wall to prove authenticity for most people, who simply prefer to demonstrate their roots through their everyday living and cultural associations. Though with deeply entrenched pride, it certainly would provide a strong conversation piece and a chance to one up friends who may claim to be “more Irish” than others.
The Irish government may decide to offer a future program to support the Irish diaspora, as noted on Irish Central, though there are not currently plans to reinstate the certificate. Therefore, time is definitely running out for those interested in obtaining a Certificate of Irish Heritage.
Are you considering purchasing a certificate? Let us know if you are, or if you feel you don’t need a certificate to celebrate your heritage- we want to hear from you!