Celebrations were well underway in Ollie's bar in Moneygall, Co. Offaly Tuesday evening as locals and visitors to the town gathered together to celebrate President Barack Obama's inauguration. Live musicians and Irish set dancers, called the Obama Set Dancers, donned in American set dancing costumes, entertained punters as glasses were raised in a toast to the new president of the U.S., and a son of Moneygall. Signs were put up across the village saying "Moneygall welcomes our President, Barack Obama." People baked traditional Irish cakes, called " Barack's Bracks" to share with visitors to the village on Tuesday. A local baking company liked the idea and will as of next week by supplying the Barack Brack to local stores. The celebrations were televised live from the bar on RTE television at 9 p.m. and celebrations ran late into the early hours of Wednesday morning. A regional radio station in the midlands changed its name to Obama FM on Tuesday as it broadcast from Moneygall. "The Obama FM bus has been traveling around the midlands in recent days promoting the live broadcast. We just thought we should do something to celebrate Barack Obama's Irish roots. It will be such a historical occasion, we had to mark it some way," said Alan Swan, 105-107 FM program director. Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen joined world leaders from across the globe in congratulating Obama on his appointment. "Today is a day of joy and celebration in Washington, across the United States and across the world," said Cowen from Dublin on Tuesday. "The inauguration of President Obama marks a new chapter in history and a new beginning for America. His inaugural address offered inspiration and hope to us all. "As we face the great challenges that confront us, his leadership will be central to global economic recovery and to the advancement of peace and justice. On behalf of the people of Ireland, I offer President Obama our warmest congratulations, best wishes and support," said Cowen. Other Irish political figures wished the new president well. Eamon Gilmore, Labor Party leader, said that this had been "a historic day for the United States and a day of hope for all the world." "During the extended presidential campaign and since his election Barrack Obama has shown himself to be a leader with a clear political vision and an ability to mobilize and inspire a whole new corps of voters and political workers," he said. "Barack Obama has created a huge level of expectation. He faces immense problems at home and abroad. I hope that he can now meet those expectations and I wish him every success in his period in the White House," he added. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said Obama's election offered hope to the world-wide community with his "commitment to re-engage positively with nations across the world." "President Obama has already shown himself to be a charismatic leader with the drive and vision necessary to bring about real change," he said. "His historic inauguration today was rightly celebrated across the United States and the hope that his election has engendered will be felt far beyond America's borders. The president's inauguration address made it clear that he intends to re-engage with the global community. In a time of economic turmoil where peace is threatened throughout the world, President Obama's words offer hope and his commitment is very welcome." Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, who was in Washington on Tuesday to attend the inauguration, said Obama's speech was very positive. "He is clearly signaling his determination to tackle the many challenges facing the U.S. people as well as a change in U.S. foreign policy and on the environment. It was a great honor to be present at the inauguration," Adams said. "His words were obviously very uplifting to the American people assembled here. In fact my big memory of today will be about the cheerfulness, sense of purpose and positive attitude of everyone I met. The huge crowd of people from very obvious different ethnic backgrounds had a clear sense of the history of this inauguration, 150 years after the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln and the day after Martin Luther King Day. "We are assured that President Obama will continue the U.S. policy of encouraging and supporting the process of change in Ireland. As we who live on the island continue to make progress people's minds will turn logically to the issue of unity and an end to division in our country. Sinn Fein will certainly be doing our best to achieve that."
Where does the term “the luck of the Irish” come from?