Obama gives his speech after a concert on College Green, Dublin. Prime Minister Enda Kenny (left).Irish Government Pool

Is Feidir Linn caint as gaeilge le cheile – yes we can speak Irish together! Barack Obama practiced his few words of Irish with a Dublin hotel receptionist he christened Cuz before charming the nation on Monday.

President Obama blew a packed College Green away when he declared Is Feidir Linn – yes we can in the Irish language.

The President’s Irish was word perfect thanks to Bernie O’Meara, an Offaly born receptionist at the five star Merrion Hotel in Dublin’s City Centre.

Birr native Bernie chatted amicably with the President when he arrived at the luxurious Merrion, venue for his proposed stay over on Monday night before the volcanic ash cloud changed his travel plans.

Once President Obama heard Bernie was from Offaly – the same county as his ancestral homeland of Moneygall – he started calling her Cuz, a term of endearment for a cousin.
Then he practiced his Irish with Bernie to ensure his pronunciations were spot on by the time he got to the College Green stage.

The decision to use the Merrion Hotel as the President’s base in Dublin was made last March when White House officials first contacted general manager Peter McCann.

The whole hotel was booked out for the Presidential party and advance teams made multiple visits to the five star location ahead of Monday’s arrival according to The Irish Times.

A top secret operation ensued as security officials vetted staff, installed communications and medical facilities and offices and even built a replica of the White House press room in case it was needed.

Senior hotel staff even referred to the imminent arrival only as ‘the visit’ while a small number of staff were told to expect a delegation from the White House without being told who would be part of the delegation.

Staff were surprised when President Obama and First Lady Michelle personally checked in at noon on Monday and ordered simple lunch of brown rice and chicken to their room before they left for Moneygall.

The Obamas were due to enjoy a private dinner at the hotel on Monday before the ash cloud development forced them to fly to London ahead of schedule.

Some 60 members of the Presidential staff were left behind in Dublin and properly adjourned to the famous O’Donoghue’s pub around the corner for the night where they followed Obama’s Guinness lead.

Staff were too shy to ask the president for a photo before he left via a marquee – but the President saved the day when he asked the staff to be photographed with him!

“President Obama asked if he could have his picture taken with us before he left,” said hotel manager McCann.

As the Irish Times reports, what else could they say but ‘Yes you can’.

 

--------------------------------

 Read more:

 Follow all the stories on Obama and his trip to Ireland

 FULL TEXT - President Obama's speech to crowd in Dublin's College Green

 PHOTOS: President Obama's trip to Ireland

 A day to remember as Barack Obama charms the Irish nation 

 Guinness cash in on Obama's Moneygall visit

 Maureen Dowd (New York Times); Obama happier in Ireland than anywhere else

--------------------------------