The Irish ancestral home of President Barack Obama has been opened to the public in Offaly, a year after thousands of people around Ireland marked the President’s historic visit.
Last May, together with First Lady Michelle Obama, the President visited the tiny house on Main St Moneygall, where his ancestors Joseph and Phoebe Kearney and their son, Falmouth, lived before emigrating to the United States in the 1850s.
The house has since been restored and developed into a visitor centre. The baptismal records from Obama’s ancestors are on display as well as pictures of the original cottage. There is also a framed copy of the President's Certificate of Irish heritage in the house.
In a bid to boost the village’s tourism industry, the Moneygall Development Association has leased the house from owner John Donovan, a local shopkeeper.
“We have taken great care in the renovation of the property and have endeavoured to recreate the atmosphere of the period utilizing fittings and furnishings of the period and specific to the property,” John Donovan states on the attractions website.
Karyn Posner-Mullen, Director of Communications and Public Affairs at the US Embassy in Dublin, officially opened the house on Wednesday.
President Obama's eighth cousin, Henry Healy, said it was a fabulous day for Moneygall, in what has been a great year for the village.
“Unfortunately President Obama is very busy today,” Healy joked during the opening ceremony. “He has an election coming up, so he wasn’t able to come over to open the house.”
According to Healy, Obama was “emotional” when he visited the house.
"I was fortunate enough to be in there with him and he stamped his foot on the ground and said, 'This is where my ancestors lived,'" Healy recalled.
Opening of Obama Ancestral Home, Moneygall