Ireland celebrates Michelle Obama in advance of Presidential visit


As Ireland prepares for the Presidential visit this summer RTE have put together an A to Z of reasons why Michelle Obama is so popular in Ireland.

RTE's Alan Corr went through the First Ladies roles and attributes from Activism to, well, Jay Z to look at the contribution to style, causes and her family she has made.

Here's their run down on Michelle Obama -

A is for Activism. Michelle was never going to be a Hilary but she has always been hugely socially active. As First Lady she's promoting her Healthier US School Challenge and her children's health anti-obesity drive Let's Move. As a result, US food companies have "promised" to remove 1.5 trillion calories from their products.

B is for Barack. In the summer of 1988 a summer intern two years her elder came to work at Sidley & Austin, the Chicago law firm where Michelle was employed in marketing and intellectual property. His name was Barack Obama and she was assigned as his mentor. Michelle's first impression of her future husband wasn't great; after seeing a photo of him in the law firm directory she decided he had a big nose. She declined his first invitations to go out on a date, saying it would be inappropriate. Her father and brother had always told her you could tell a lot about someone's character on the basketball court, so before agreeing to date Barack, she asked her brother to take him out for a spot of hoop shooting. They married four years later and she still makes him do the dishes.

C is for Chicago. Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born in Chicago in 1964 and was raised in a brick bungalow on the South Side of Chicago. She grew up with her older brother, Craig, and parents in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. Her father Fraser was a pump operator for the Chicago Water Department. Her mother Marian stayed home to raise Michelle and Craig. Michelle's attachment to The Second City is huge and her rise in the public and academic life was meteoric - she served as assistant commissioner of planning and development in City Hall before becoming the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies.

D is for Dissertation. Michelle's university dissertation was entitled, "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community." By the way, when she first arrived at Princeton she remarked that the tutors weren't teaching French "correctly".

E is for Education. Michelle graduated from high school second in her year and she is the third First Lady with a postgraduate degree, after her two immediate predecessors, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush.

F is for Fashion. Michelle's elegant and simple style follows her own elegant and simple credo - "Be happy with what you're in. Feel comfortable, feel confident." On the night that Barack Obama swept into power she wore a red and black "lava lamp" dress by Narciso Rodriguez and she's also worn Cuban designer Isabel Toledo and Jason Wu. But in her rise as the best-dressed First Lady since Jackie O, she's also worn Gap and J crew.

G is for Gardening. In 2009, Michelle and her team created a garden at the White House to promote healthy eating options and alternative food sources in urban areas. She's also invited schoolchildren to the White House to help tend the garden and take part in other activities. And now there's a book about the project in the pipeline.

H is for Height. Michelle is not just a towering intellect but at five feet 11 inches tall, she is the loftiest First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt. Oh and by the way, Michelle works out in the gym "like a gladiator" according to her friends.

I is for Icon. Is it too early to call Michelle an icon? Well, the American media don't think so. The world "icon" seems to feature in every mention of Michelle whether it's in connection with motherhood or fashion.

J is for "Just don't screw it up buddy." Those were the words Michelle said to her husband moments before he went on stage at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, the event that began his relatively short road to the White House.

K is for Kenwood. The Obama's private residence is in Kenwood on the south side of Chicago. It's relatively modest abode but its historical features have made it a stop off on the Chicago Architecture Foundation bus tour.

L is for Linguini. Michelle cooks a mean shrimp linguini, her husband's favourite meal.

M is for Malia. The official Michelle Obama biography on the White House website says it straight: "When people ask First Lady Michelle Obama to describe herself, she doesn't hesitate to say that first and foremost, she is Malia and Sasha's mom." The Obama's oldest daughter was born on the fourth of July 1998. She lists "gymnastics and tap" as her interests but the media is taking a huge interest in something else - her height. At a mere twelve years of age, Malia is variously reported to be between five-foot-nine and five-foot-eleven inches tall which is at least nine inches taller than the average height of a girl her age.