A return US presidential visit could be on the cards for Offaly in 2016, President Barack Obama’s eighth cousin Henry Healy has revealed.
Healy and Moneygall publican Ollie Hayes received the clearest indication yet that the president was considering a return visit when they attended the White House during the annual St. Patrick’s Day ceremonies.
On previous St. Patrick’s Day celebrations the president had suggested he would return with his daughters, but there was never any indication it would happen while he was still in office, Healy remarked.
On this occasion, Healy explained, “He said to us he was going to come back and he said he hoped it would be before he leaves office.
“We had other indications from talking to other members of staff that potentially it could be possible in 2016, so don’t rule it out. This was the first indication that it may happen before he leaves office. Of course we would welcome it anytime.”
Healy described it as “the clearest indication that he intends to return during his term in office.”
“It seems more promising I suppose from the language that he used to us on St. Patrick’s Day from previous years.”
According to Healy, two members of staff told him not to rule out a return visit during his presidential term. He said he would be “quietly confident” another visit to Ireland is on the cards before Obama leaves office in 2017.
Publican Hayes confirmed Healy’s account of the meeting.
“He said he would come before he leaves office and he said, ‘If I don’t make it I will be over shortly after,’” explained Hayes.
“We were only thinking that it might be a presidential visit for the centenary,” he added.
A series of events will take place during 2016 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.
If President Obama were to visit Ireland for the centenary, Hayes said a return to Moneygall couldn’t be ruled out. He might come down to the Barack Obama Plaza, he said.
“We know from people close to him he speaks regularly of his trip to Ireland,” Hayes added.