Obama’s Irish cousin and resident Moneygall celebrity Henry Healy has secured a new job as a tourism ambassador for Ireland.
Healy, who became affectionately known as “Henry the Eighth” after his ties to President Obama emerged, recently joined the ranks of the Irish unemployed when he lost his job working as a bookkeeper.
But now the 27-year-old business graduate has joined forces with Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO), an Irish genealogy campaign which aims to connect with the Irish Diaspora by contacting relatives of past immigrants.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” Healy told the Irish Voice. “The vision is fantastic and has so much potential for every small town in Ireland.”
“Similar to what was done with Moneygall, it would be great to emulate that in every parish around Ireland.”
Healy, who has only been unemployed for one month, said he found losing his job tough, but he tried to remain positive.
“I consider myself extremely fortunate not to have to emigrate,” he said.
Healy played a pivotal role in the campaign to bring President Obama and First Lady Michelle to his ancestral home in Moneygall in May of last year. Last March, Obama reciprocated by inviting Healy and Moneygall publican Ollie Hayes to the White House for a VIP tour. The two Offaly men also enjoyed a pint of Guinness with the President in the Dubliner Pub in Washington DC.
In his new role at Ireland XO, Healy will work as a Community Activation Leader. His job will involve liaising with parishes around Ireland and helping them reach out and engage with the Diaspora around the world.
“I believe in the power of the Diaspora and the powerful and positive contribution it can make over the long term to Irish people at home and abroad. I am looking forward to working with parishes across Ireland through the coming year,” Healy said about his new job.
“I am truly delighted to become part of this innovative and highly energetic organization.”
Healy, who has already begun working with Ireland XO, said he intends to remain living in Moneygall.
The campaign aims to connect over one million people by the end of 2013. It believes it can achieve a database of 10 million members of the Irish Diaspora, including delivering one million additional visitors to the island of Ireland by the end of 2016. An estimated 70 million people claim Irish ancestry throughout the world.
Commenting on the appointment, Ireland XO Chairman and Founder Mike Feerick described Healy as the perfect person for the job.
“What the community in Moneygall has done is an inspiration to every local Irish community,” Feerick said.
“Every Irish parish has both high and low profile connections around the world who are very interested in learning more about and becoming involved in the parishes of their ancestors.”
The Ireland XO is working in close partnership with the Gathering 2013 initiative which is preparing to invite an additional 340,000 visitors to Ireland through the end of 2013, and also with local county council and LEADER groups. Shannon Development, the economic development agency for the Mid-West is leading the adoption of Ireland XO in 376 parishes in its area with the assistance of local authority and LEADER organizations. Log into www.irelandxo.com for more information.