Mr President, we’re family!

A Castlerock woman believes she is related to a former American president, according to a BBC programme to be aired next week.

Rene Martin, who has been researching her ancestry for 20 years, maintains she is descendant of James Buchanan, the 15th president of the United States

However she believes his presidency is not widely known and if known, has been much maligned. Her journey in the Are You Related To An American President?, which will be shown on BBC1 Northern Ireland on Monday, February 28 from 10.35pm, finds out what he really achieved as president and his legacy.

The programme reckons that there is every chance people from Northern Ireland could be related to the men who shaped one of the world’s leading superpowers.

The Province has a remarkable ancestral history with no fewer than 17 past US presidents having substantial family origins here

Towns with strong Ulster Scots heritage such as Coleraine, Ballymoney and Cullybackey as well as Carrickfergus, Omagh, Mounthill and Dergnagh have all at one point or another been home to the parents or grandparents of past American presidents.

The documentary takes a look at the genealogy of some of the US’s leading men and meets the people who believe they are related to them.

It features Woodrow Wilson, a retired grocery owner from Strabane who was told by his parents that he is related to his namesake Woodrow Wilson who was president of America at the end of the First World War.

Woodrow lived for a time on the Wilson family homestead in Dergalt, Strabane, home of the American President’s paternal grandfather, James Wilson before he emigrated to America with his family.

When the Wilson family left Strabane for America, the family lost all ties with those left behind. Now aged 65, Woodrow would love to find out for absolute certain that he is indeed related to a President.

Together Woodrow and Rene travel to the United States in search of some further clues to their past to find out if they really are related to an American President.

Jane Kelly, Executive Producer, said: “The story of The Ulster Scots in America is phenomenal and we’re delighted to be one of the first television companies telling this amazing story having worked on the programme for the last three years.

“We got the best historians in the country to help us tell this story which follows two regular people from Northern Ireland who wish to find their own place in history. The film has moments of jaw dropping astonishment on the faces of our two contributors and wonderful quiet moments of high emotion.

“We’re used to seeing famous people discover their roots on TV but this programme gives history back to the people and is a real celebration of our own stories.”