President Obama’s trip to Moneygall, to his ancestral village, may be in jeopardy because of weather conditions.
The forecast for Monday May 23, his day in Ireland, is for persistent rain with strong winds which may well be enough to ground Marine One, the president’s helicopter.
If that happens the only access will be by road, but a White House briefing seen by Irish Central makes it clear that weather could play havoc with his plans.
The memo states “ If he has to drive because of weather it would be a long drive almost certainly too long of a drive even with a police escort. It took an advance team 1 hour 42 minutes to get there driving the N7, a divided four lane highway towards Limerick, a drive that goes by sprawling green fields and lots of sheep and cattle grazing.”
The memo makes clear the advance team also had a police escort.
There is precedence for a grounded presidential helicopter.
During one of his visits to Ireland, President Clinton was forced to drive from Dublin to Belfast rather than fly after heavy rain grounded his helicopter. On that occasion thousands showed up by the side of the highway to cheer him on.
Met Eireann, the official weather forecasting service. predicts that Monday will indeed be wet and very windy.
Their prediction is that “rain and strong winds will spread east to all parts overnight. The rain will continue into Monday morning accompanied by southwest gales with some severe gusts across the north and west. The rain will clear on Monday afternoon to be followed by blustery showers.”
Obama has a packed schedule in Ireland but a non appearance in Moneygall would be a shattering blow to the tiny Offaly village which has pulled out all the stops to make the president feel at home.
The world media has made clear his visit to Moneygall is the highlight of his Irish and indeed his European trip.They have descended on the tiny little Offaly village in huge numbers.
Fulmuth Kearney, the great grandfather of Obama’s great grandfather on his mother’s side left the village in 1850 to go to America, to Ross County in Ohio where his father had been left land by his brother.
Obama is due back in Dublin to his hotel in early evening and from then on to his public appearance in College Green in the heart of the capital city..