Barack Obama will spend a full day in Ireland next month – claim the locals in Moneygall who spent time with all the President’s Men on Monday.
US presidential aides and security chiefs undertook a whistle-stop tour of the tiny County Offaly village ahead of Obama’s visit to his ancestral hometown in May.
Locals welcomed their American visitors with open arms as the village looks to cash in on the biggest day in its history.
And they were left with the distinct impression that President Obama will hit their town on Monday, May 23rd as part of a 24 hour visit to Ireland.
The 30 strong Presidential party refused to speak to reporters and photographers during their fact finding mission but locals now believe that their man will return to his roots on May 23rd, stay overnight in Dublin then fly to London the following day.
His visit to England will include a Buckingham Palace visit to Queen Elizabeth, just days after her own Irish tour.
President Obama’s advance security team made the most of their brief visit to Ireland on Monday when they also visited the Presidential residence, the stately home Farmleigh House and the US Ambassador’s residence, all in the Phoenix Park.
Government buildings were also on their packed schedule as they prepare for the Presidential visit.
Irish police escorted a blacked out coach and a mini-bus into Moneygall as staff from the US Embassy, the White House, the US State Department and agents from the Secret Service visited the town in the company of officials from Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
“They just wanted to look around, have a chat and ask a few questions,” said local publican Ollie Hayes who hopes to serve a pint of Guinness to President Obama after security officials photographed his premises and even his toilets!
“They were very nice people. They had a few refreshments. I do hope the President comes in for a pint. I do hope he comes in here, it would be brilliant.”
Bar owner Hayes refused to confirm or deny reports that the President’s men sampled his Guinness on Monday.
He added: “They are known as the advanced security and I suppose they will do a preliminary survey, go back, map it out and see the lie of the land.”
Henry Healy, a distant relative of President Obama whose great-great-great grandfather Falmouth Kearney emigrated from Moneygall to the US in 1850, revealed that the small town is already buzzing ahead of the visit.
“It’s been crazy but it is exciting times for the village. It’s all positive around here. We are forgetting about the IMF and the bailout,” Healy told the Irish Independent.
“There is unbelievable community spirit for the whole thing, everybody is out cleaning and the painters are coming.
“The village is really coming together to make sure that Moneygall portrays a perfect picture of Ireland when the President gets here.”
Although he has yet to receive any information from the President’s officials, Healy is hopeful he will meet his distant cousin next month.
“I’ve had no contact from the White House at all but we maintained contact with the embassy and we maintained contact with the Irish American Democrats,” added Healy.
“I was there for the inauguration so I am hopeful that my contacts ensure I might be able to shake his hand."
Local Canon Stephen Neill told the Irish Times that he expects President Obama to: “Spend at least 24 hours and it could even be a couple of days.”
Canon Neill continued: “I am confident President Obama will want to do the thing justice and not just have a whistle-stop tour.”
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