The Queen has just left Ireland and now President Barack Obama is due to set foot on the Emerald Isle ahead of his state visit to the UK. It is hoped that his trip, which begins today, will give Ireland a much needed boost amidst its economic problems. It will also give President Obama an opportunity to look up some of his family.
The President will undertake diplomatic engagements in Dublin before traveling to Moneygall in County Offaly, which is proud to call itself the ancestral home of Barack Obama (49).
The President’s great-great-great-grandfather Falmouth Kearney was a shoemaker in the rural village. Americans are sure to love yet another one of their number with an Irish connection.
Local church records show that President Obama’s distant relative was born in Ireland in 1831 and left for America in 1850. This link was revealed four years ago but this is Obama’s first opportunity to follow up the link personally.
Despite initial skepticism of the President’s ancestral link, Moneygall resident Henry Healy has traced the family connection and discovered that he is an eighth cousin to President Obama. He is hoping to meet the President on his visit to Ireland.
The entire village has been painted in honor of Obama’s visit. One resident even painted the American flag on the front of his house.
The Moneygall school principal Eugene Ryan is very excited about President Obama’s ancestral link to the small Irish village.
“I think it has resurrected the kind of parish and community spirit that may be was always there but maybe was dormant for a while.” He said.
There is a bust of Mr. Obama in pride of place on the bar of the village pub and his pictures have adorned their walls since he was elected into office.
Landlady, Majella Hayes, said, “President Obama has put Moneygall on the map and the villagers are putting him on t-shirts, which are for sale on the main street.
Some have a picture of the president holding a pint of Guinness, one simply says: ‘What’s the craic Barack?’”
It’s clear that Moneygall residents are excited about President Obama’s seemingly unlikely family history, and his visit will give the small rural village a welcome boost.