First Lady Michelle Obama visited Dublin with her daughters, Sasha and Malia on Monday where she attended several events that coincide with the G8 Summit in Co Fermanagh which President Obama is attending.
Michelle visited Trinity College Dublin with her daughters; Ireland’s oldest and most prestigious university has two Nobel Laureates, writer Samuel Beckett and scientist Ernest Walton, among its alumni.
The Trinity heritage company Eneclann created an exhibit of items related to Obama’s Irish heritage. Incorporated in 1998, Eneclann is the largest historical and genealogical research and consultancy service in Ireland and is known for its research for the tv show “Who Do You Think You Are?”
They claim that Obama’s Irish heritage is better documented than that of other US presidents including Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and even John F. Kennedy.
The Eneclann team has been researching Obama’s family history since 2008 and traced the family back to the 1600’s because of the surviving paper trail.
Items in the personalized exhibit included a map of lands of Gothgreen where Obama’s ancestor’s originated in Co Offaly and baptismal manuscripts from the Church of Ireland RCB Library including Templeharry registers containing records for later generations of the Kearney family, who are Obama’s ancestors. There was also an image of the Provost house where Obama’s great-great-great-great grand uncle Provot John Kearney lived between 1799 and 1806.
In the Long Room of the 18th century Library Building the first family minus the president saw the Book of Kells, a 9th century illuminated gospel famous for its intricate artwork and they saw the College Harp, Ireland’s oldest harp which dates back to the 15th century and which is the basis for Ireland’s national emblem.
President Obama’s distant cousin Henry Healy presented Sasha and Malia with certificates of Irish heritage.
Trinity College Dublin Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast welcomed the First Lady and her daughters and said, “We are honoured by your visit which goes to strengthen our relations with America. As a country America has welcomed many of our graduates over the years where a large number of our alumni are living. Our graduates who play a critical role in shaping the knowledge of economy are our diaspora.” He added, “Your visit has particular meaning for us today given the connections we have as an institution with President Obama’s own ancestor, John Kearney who in the 18th century was also a Provost here in the university.”
Michelle and her daughters next visited the U.S. Embassy to meet the staff and their families.They ended the day with a visit to the Gaiety Theatre to see a special performance of ‘Riverdance’ with Sabina Higgins, President Michael D. Higgin’s wife, Fionnuala Kenny, Taoiseach Edna Kenny’s wife, and a group of teenagers. Michelle made some brief remarks before the start of the show.
Earlier in the day Michelle addressed a group of 2,000 mostly young people at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. She told them, “You are all in a very important position. You have the freedom of an open mind. You can find solutions to age-old problems and with technologies you can connect with people all over Northern Ireland and all over the world.”
She continued, “I have seen people choosing to work together, that’s what’s so powerful about your generation. You have the ability to make a mark on this world that will last for generations to come.”
Michelle and her daughters stayed in the Shelbourne Hotel on St. Stephen’s Green. They traveled to Glendalough before continuing to Berlin.
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