President Barack Obama is likely to visit Ireland in the near future Ambassador Dan Rooney has said.

Visiting Offaly where Obama traces his Irish roots to, Rooney, former head of the Pittsburgh Steelers,  said Obama speaks passionately about Ireland each time he talks to the US ambassador here and that he plans to visit .

"I think he would love to come here (Offaly) if he did... (but) we have got to get him to Ireland first.

"The first time I met him, (before he was Ambassador) we talked about Ireland; the very, very first time and he talks about Ireland. He talks about Ireland when he can, and when he is with me."

“As far as the president coming, he wants to come. He said so on St Patrick's day; he said he was staying at my house (when he came).

"I wrote him that night and said the door is open."

Rooney said Ambassador to Ireland is his dream job.

"It feels wonderful to be the ambassador to Ireland," said Mr Rooney. "This is one of the things that President Obama also thinks -- he said 'that's a great job to get'. Compared to his, I would say that's true."

Obama’s great-great-great-grandfather Fulmuth Kearney emigrated to America from the small rural village of Moneygall in Offaly in 1850.

Speaking of Ireland's economy,  Rooney said he believed things were improving.

"Ireland has a lot to offer but it needs to sell itself," he said.

"As far as education is concerned, I think you do a marvelous job. I sent one of my daughters here and she studied here for a year and came back a much better student."