Moneygall welcomes home their most famous son Barack Obama - VIDEOS & PHOTOS
President's long awaited visit to his ancestral home did not disappoint
After weeks of preparation the people of Moneygall, County Offaly, were not disappointed by President Barack Obama's short visit today. Obama and his First Lady Michelle were greeted warmly by the cheering crowds that lined the streets.
Upon their arrival in the town Obama and Michelle took time to greet the public. As 3,000, security vetted, locals lined the streets the President the First Lady warmly greeted the crowds shaking hands, hugging and even cradling three babies.
The crowd lined the American and Irish flag decked streets and stood at least 15-feet deep. Some of the crowd told the press that they had been waiting in the rain and hail for three hours but it had been worth it. The Obama's worked the crowd for almost 20 minutes.
As the rain once more threatened their visit Obama and his wife ducked into Falmouth Kearney's home. This house is built on the site where Obama's ancestor, a shoe maker from Moneygall, left in 1850 to create a life for himself in the United States.
John Donovan, a shopkeeper, funeral director and farmer who owns ancestral home, said: "I'm so nervous I can't talk…We have the place spic-and-span." When he was asked whether he would serve Obama tea he said "I think he's more interested in a pint."
How right he was. After visiting Obama's ancestral home the couple ducked into Ollie Hayes pub where they enjoyed a pint of Guinness, all the while comfortable chatting with the public. Entering the pub he said "What a thrill it is to be here".
Back in 2008 on his Presidential campaign when he first became aware of his Irish roots he said that he hoped to one day have a pint of in his local in his ancestral home and today that dream came true.
After a quick pause for a family photo op with his cousin Obama called for a pint of Guinness.
One man in the pub commented to Obama "You look a little like my grandfather." Obama joked with him saying "We may be related to him as well. I'll have to check it out when I get back…What's your name?"
Speaking to the crowd in the bar Obama said "There are millions of Irish Americans who trace their ancestry back to this beautiful island. Part of why this makes it so special is because the Irish influence on American culture is so powerful in the arts, in politics, in commerce."
At the conclusion, he said: "And with that let me have a pint."
The pair then went up to the bar and ordered a glass and a pint of Guinness. He said "You tell me when it's properly settled, I don't want to mess this up."
"What do we do while it settles?" the First Lady asked.
"I've been told it makes a difference who the person behind the bar is, that people are very particular who is pouring the Guinness, am I right about that?...I want to get it perfect."
The President said that he had had his first pint of Guinness on a layover in Shannon Airport while on his way to Afghanistan. He said "It was the middle of the night, and I tried one of these and I realized it tastes so much better here than in the United States. You're keeping all the best stuff here."
After Obama had drunk about three-quarters of his pint they left and went to greet the public again. The crowds were hysterical out on the streets and the CIA officers seemed a little nervous at the enthusiasm of the 3,000 crowds. However this didn't stop Obama and Michelle stretching into the crowd and grabbing babies they were passed forward to them. Obama even rocked one of the babies back and forth.
Then couple then got back into their car to travel by helicopter to greet the crowd of over 25,000 in Dublin City Center.
Although Obama only stayed for an hour in the small village and his Irish roots may stretch back for generations it is certain that he and his elegant wife stole the hearts of this 300-strong town today. It was clear that Obama was happy to be home and the people of Moneygall were only too happy to welcome their most famous son.
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