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These politicians making waves abroad could have been your local TD

Irish emigration works in mysterious ways…

IRISH EMIGRATION HAS shaped societies throughout the world for many years, and the realm of politics is no exception. 

Whether they grew up in Ireland, their parents did, or they’ve never set foot on the island, there are politicians leaving their mark on several countries, who could just as easily have been TDs, Senators or councillors, if emigration hadn’t done its work.

Here are just a few of them:

Stephen Dawson

Australia Gay Marriage Dublin-born Australian politician Stephen Dawson (R), kisses his partner Dennis Liddelow at their wedding in December 2013. AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

The 39-year-old Dublin native has already played a role in Australian history, despite his short political career so far.

Last December, Dawson and his partner Dennis Liddelow were among the first same-sex couples to be legally married in Australia.

The marriage, however, was declared illegal only a few days later, when the country’s High Court overturned a law in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

At the age of 13, he left Dublin with his family and settled in Nedlands, a suburb of the city of Perth in Western Australia.

At the time, he spoke mainly Irish, and English was his second language.

After training to become a teacher, Dawson became involved in the trade union movement and joined the Labor party.

In March 2013, he was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Council for the Mining and Pastoral region, before going on toe be appointed Shadow Minister for Disability Services.

Dawson says his Irishness is massively important to him, and something he expresses through sport and culture, including a penchant for “singing a few rebel songs on a night out.”

Brendan Boyle

539816_583450638350905_660686058_n Boyle for Congress Boyle for Congress

The story of Pennsylvania State Representative Brendan Boyle’s family so perfectly exemplifies the American Dream that you would scoff if you saw it in a Disney movie.

His father Frank leaves Glencomcille, Co Donegal as a 19-year-old, bound for Philadelphia. He marries the daughter of Sligo immigrants, and in 1977, Brendan is born. His brother Kevin, now also an influential Philadelphia Democrat, arrives a few years later.

While his father works as a janitor on the city’s subway, and his mother as a lollilop lady, Brendan earns a scholarship to Notre Dame, and goes on to a Master’s at the prestigious Kennedy School of Government in Harvard.

Mr Boyle goes to Washington

Skip forward 15 years, and Boyle, already twice elected to the PA House, makes his debut on the national stage, running against Marjorie Margolies (among others) to become the Democratic nominee for US Representative from the state’s 13th district.

If you haven’t heard of Margolies, she already occupied the seat in the 90s, and brought an enormous campaign war chest into the race.

She had the backing of popular former Governor Ed Rendell, as well as Bill and Hillary Clinton, after her son, Marc, married their daughter, Chelsea.

Boyle won.

And since the 13th district is overwhelmingly Democrat, that means he’s all but certain to be elected in November.

That would complete his family’s journey from Glencolmcille, Co Donegal to the halls of power in Washington DC, via the train tracks of Philadelphia.

Marty Walsh

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh: Son of Connemara immigrants, mayor of Boston AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

The 47-year-old mayor of Boston traces all his roots to one place – Connemara.

His mother Mary, from Ros Cide in Ros Muc, and his father John from Callowfeenish in Carna, both emigrated to Boston in the 1950s, before bringing Marty into the world in 1967.

He grew up on Taft Street in the Dorchester neighbourhood (home of Mark Wahlberg, among others), and had a fiercely difficult childhood, being diagnosed with cancer at the age of five.

He became a manual labourer, like his father, and a trade unionist, before getting involved in Democratic politics in Boston.

From the late 90s until last year, Walsh was a Massachusetts State Representative for the 13th district.

In September, he topped the list of candidates in the preliminary mayoral election, before defeating city councillor John Connolly in the run-off.

On the night of his election as Boston mayor, Walsh took the chance to pay tribute to his humble origins:

Let me tell you, my parents had big dreams for their kids, but I’m not sure they were this big…
My mother, my brother Johnny, and the love of my life Lorrie, and her daughter Lauren. And my father, who is with us here in spirit tonight.
I also want to thank my family who travelled 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to be here tonight. I love you.

Read: This Irish woman’s running as an MEP in London but says she has your interests at heart>

Watch: Irish-born American UN ambassador tears into Russia on Ukraine>

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