There is mounting speculation President Barack Obama will visit Ireland after it was announced that U.S. Ambassador Dan Rooney will visit Moneygall, the town in County Offaly where Obama's relatives left for America in the 19th century.

An American Embassy official told the Belfast Telegraph that Rooney, former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, keeps in close touch with Obama.

“They speak every couple of weeks, so he'll see him after Christmas ... it's something he might raise with him,” said the spokesman.

There are only 229 residents of Moneygall — on the Offaly/Tipperary border — where Obama's ancestor, Falmuth Kearney, his third great-grandfather, left for America in the 1850s.

The U.S. Embassy stated there was a special significance to the visit by Rooney. “Absolutely, he wants to go and see it,” said a spokesman.

“The ambassador has always said that he was hoping the President would get here before the end of his first term, but nothing has been scheduled as of yet. If the ambassador is down there looking, if the President is coming, then he would be recommending they go to Offaly.”

Villagers in the tiny town are planning a special afternoon of Irish music and dancing for the ambassador in Ollie's pub, the local Obama headquarters, where they celebrated his victory last year in the presidential election.