Bush was a uniter; Obama's a divider

It all started just around the inauguration in 2009. Maybe it was before that. Election Day? I can't quite remember now, but it was around that time. Before Barak Obama became President of the United States the people of this state were united, beautifully so.

There had been some straws in the wind even before the election, but once it was clear that Barack Obama was going to be President the real fight started. Neighbor turned on neighbor, brother on brother.

I had never even heard of Moneygall before Obama came along. Why would I have? I'm sure I've driven through it on my way to Limerick, but 300 people live there. It made no impression. Believe me, I wasn't the only one in Ireland who had never heard of Moneygall before.

When it transpired that Barack Obama is descended from a Falmouth Kearney, who left Moneygall for New York in 1850 suddenly the town (hamlet, more like) started making the news. The instant reaction of most people was, "Where? What did he say? Moneyball? Isn't that a book by Michael Lewis?" Okay, that last one was only me, but you get the picture. Nobody knew nor cared about Moneygall. God be with the days.

Now we have two counties practically ready to go to war over Moneygall. Although the media has repeatedly described Moneygall as being in County Offaly, it apparently could be considered to be in County Tipperary too. I only found this out today, thanks to the Irish Independent.

To my eye it seems that Offaly has the stronger claim, but let's face it the American media is going to be much happier with Tipperary - it's a known quantity - than Offaly. I can already hear it: "How do you pronounce that? Awfully?" Accuracy be damned, Tipperary has a strong hand here.

And then there's Kilkenny. The people of County Kilkenny want in on the action. "Moneygall? Offaly? Tipperary? Show me the ancestors!" they demand. You see, Falmouth's family left little by way of a permanent mark on Moneygall, but going back a bit further there is a definite relative - a grand-grand...uncle - Bishop John Kearney who is entombed in St Canice's Cathedral {photo} in the beautiful city of Kilkenny.

Now it's really getting ugly. You don't have a direct line in Kilkenny, but you have an actual tomb and it's a beautiful spot. Not just beautiful, but lively. The President's people will love Kilkenny and so will the American press.

You see how Obama has divided the people? The desire to claim him as a 'native son' could easily lead to blood, war, ruin. Offaly? Tipperary? Kilkenny? Bad-tempered hurling matches engender less bad feeling.

It was all so much simpler with President Bush. No county, no town or hamlet claimed him or wanted to be associated with him. (I think there was some distant connection, but it's been officially buried.) From Election Day in 2000 until he left office, the people of Ireland were quite content and of one mind in detesting the man.

Didn't matter what he did, they were against it. Every word out of his mouth was greeted with a sneer and every action with a protest. Those were happier times.

Now the country is choosing sides in a three-way battle to make Obama their own. It won't end well. As we all know, the Irish have long memories and this division will take generations to heal.

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