An amazing encounter with President Obama in Ireland
An Irish American gets up close and personal in Moneygall
On Wednesday morning, May 25, 2011, I boarded a plane at Dublin Airport heading for Newark New Jersey. It occurred to me, while I was 35,000 feet in the air, that the adventure I had just had in Ireland was so extraordinary that it really needed to be shared with the anyone who would listen.
Not just for my own glorification, but because it deals with a real historical event, and a new bond between two great nations ... Ireland and America.
So here goes.
I received an email from Henry Healy on March 23 that President Barack Obama was coming to his town of Moneygall in May. And Henry (President Obama's distant cousin AKA Henry the 8th) was inviting me to take part in this celebration.
When I read the message on my computer in Baltimore, I almost fell off of my chair. Moneygall is a tiny hamlet in County Offaly, Ireland. And Barack Obama's maternal roots can be traced back to this town.
First of all, here's the back story that needs to be revealed. In 2008, I had read in an Irish American newspaper that Henry was related to the President. I was so curious that I found Moneygall on a map and realized it was a town I passed through on many occasions as I travelled to Kerry to see my own cousins. (My paternal grandparents were both born in County Kerry).
So that summer I stopped in Moneygall and met with Henry and his family. His mother immediately “put the kettle on” and we were instant friends. I photographed the town and Henry and when I got back to the U.S. I called my friend Stella O'Leary, leader of the Irish American Democrats.
Stella in turn contacted Henry and this led eventually to his participation at an Inauguration party at the Phoenix Park Hotel in D.C. in January of 2009. (I also attended the party there that night, where I would meet up with Henry again.)
Anyway, Henry invited me and secured a special ticket for me (cleared by the Secret Service I suspect) which permitted me to enter Moneygall on Monday, May 23 when the President was to come. Just for the record, I also had to get domestic clearance from my wife Paula to attend this momentous event. I was delighted. So off to Dublin Airport I went.......landed on Sunday May 22......rented a car........bought an Irish cell phone.......and drove down the M7 to Moneygall. This part of the drill, I was already familiar with.
Once there, I met Henry, obtained the ticket (that will never be sold on eBay), and proceeded to record the rest of the experience with my camera. I captured images of the following: lovely painted houses, shopkeepers, musicians, facades of stores, and signs regarding President Obama's visit.
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