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Thursday, March 16, 2023

Irish Roots of Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney for St. Patrick’s Day

 by Ray Keating



March 16, 2023


St. Patrick’s Day – the day when we’re all Irish – is upon us. And it turns out that Walt Disney, along with Mickey Mouse, had real Irish roots. 


So, how about some Irish tidbits as they relate to Walt, Mickey and Disney in general?

• Mickey Mouse, the Irish Mouse! 


In his book Walt Disney, Neal Gabler offers the following on the birth of Mickey Mouse (emphasis added): 


Walt read the story to Lillian, but she said she couldn’t focus because she was upset by the name Walt had bestowed upon his character: Mortimer. “The only thing that got through to me,” she told an interviewer, “was that horrible name, Mortimer…. I’m afraid I made quite a scene about it.” “Too sissy,” she said. When she calmed down, Walt asked her what she thought of the name Mickey, an Irish name, an outsider’s name. “I said it sounded better than Mortimer, and that’s how Mickey was born.”


• Walt’s Irish Ring and Roots


In a DisneyBizJournal guest column titled “Walt Disney and the Irish Claddagh Ring,” Chris Lucas wrote of Walt Disney’s Irish roots:


Walt was proud of his family's Irish heritage and only wore two items of jewelry in public: his wedding ring and his Claddagh ring, bought for him by his wife, Lillian, at a shop in Connemara, Ireland in the 1940s.


Walt Disney’s family was from County Kilkenny, Ireland. His grandfather, Kepple Disney, one of 16 (!) children, immigrated to Canada in 1834. His son, Elias (Walt’s Dad), crossed the border to the U.S. in the late 1800s and moved to the Midwest. Walt was born in Chicago in 1901.


The famous “Partners” statue at the Disney parks, designed by Disney Legend Blaine Gibson, depicts the Irish Claddagh ring on Walt’s right hand (the one not holding Mickey, the one pointing to the future), but most people never notice it because it is above the sight line.


• Sean Connery and the Little Irish People


Okay, the title for this 1959 Disney film actually is Darby O’Gill and the Little People. But it does co-star Sean Connery, before he was James Bond, as Michael McBride, who is from Dublin. Check it out on Disney+.


• A Documentary on the Irish


According to Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia by Dave Smith, the 1998 six-part television documentary Irish in America: The Long Journey Home was a collaboration between Disney Studios and WGBH in Boston. Smith reported, “This project was close to the heart of Roy E. Disney, whose great-grandfather was one of the Irish immigrants.

• For the Love of Raglan Road


We’re big, big fans of Raglan Road: Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs. Grabbing a meal and catching the entertainment at Raglan Road is a perfect way to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day, or any other day when you’re seeking a bit of the Irish. Read our previous pieces about Raglan Road herehere, and here.


Happy and blessed St. Patrick’s Day to all!




Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com; and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries, and the Alliance of Saint Michael novels; and assorted nonfiction books. Have Ray Keating speak your group, business, school, church, or organization. Email him at raykeating@keatingreports.com.


The views expressed here are his own – after all, no one else should be held responsible for this stuff, right? 


Consider books by Ray Keating…


 The Weekly Economist: 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist. Signed paperbacks at RayKeatingOnline.com or paperbacks, hardcovers and Kindle editions at Amazon.com.


• Cathedral: An Alliance of Saint Michael Novel. Signed paperbacks and/or paperbacks, hardcovers and the Kindle edition at Amazon


• The Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries. The latest in the series is Persecution: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel. Get the signed books here, or paperbacks and Kindle editions right here.


• The Lutheran Planner: The TO DO List Solution combines a simple, powerful system for getting things done with encouragement, inspiration and consolation from the Christian faith.


• Behind Enemy Lines: Conservative Communiques from Left-Wing New York  –  signed books  or at  Amazon.


•  Free Trade Rocks! 10 Points on International Trade Everyone Should Know is available at  Amazon  in paperback or for the Kindle edition, and signed books at  www.raykeatingonline.com


Also, check out Ray’s podcasts – the Daily Dose of DisneyFree Enterprise in Three Minutes, and the PRESS CLUB C Podcast.

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