Ireland’s call to its 70-million-strong diaspora to make a show of their ancestry at up to 120 euros ($132) each went largely unanswered and the government as a result scrapped its “Certificate of Irish Heritage scheme” this week.
Introduced in 2011 as an “expression of the importance the government attaches to recognizing people of Irish descent”, the certificates have been presented to famous figures such as U.S. President Barack Obama, former president Bill Clinton and actor Tom Cruise.
But others, who like Cruise may have been able to trace their Irish lineage back to the 13th century, were less willing to part with 45 euros – 120 euros for a framed copy – to prove it, and just 3,000 were sold.
“It’s a very good concept but certainly the take-up was lower than expected,” Jimmy Deenihan, junior minister for diaspora affairs, told national broadcaster RTE on Tuesday.
The certificates, which quote the Irish constitution’s pledge to cherish all people of ancestry living abroad and feature an image of an emigrant ship leaving the shore, were “a must have for anyone with Irish descent”, according to the website where they could be purchased.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny presented Obama with his certificate during the Irish leader’s annual St. Patrick’s Day trip to the White House.
Obama’s great-great-great grandfather is from the Irish village of Moneygall, which named a service station after the American president following his 2011 visit.
Other drives to mobilize the diaspora during Ireland’s financial crisis proved far more successful. A year-long…