Barack Obama’s distant cousin Henry Healy has landed a new role as a television star – promoting Ireland as a tourist destination.
Moneygall native Healy and local Church of Ireland rector Stephen Neill have been signed up by Irish tourist authorities ahead of the President’s visit.
The two locals are credited as the men responsible for President Obama’s historic visit to his ancestral homeland next Monday.
Now they will promote more visits to Irish shores as the faces of a new Tourism Ireland campaign abroad.
Healy, a distant cousin of President Obama, expressed his delight at the campaign and his part in it.
“I feel it is my civic duty to promote Ireland abroad and to boost tourism,” said Healy as the likes of CNN, ABC, BBC, Reuters, the Boston Globe and Time arrived in Moneygall.
President Obama’s advanced security team also landed in Moneygall on Monday, accompanied by staff from Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
Currently the focus of media attention ahead of Obama’s arrival in the small Midlands town, both Healy and Neill have described their selection for the ad campaign as an ‘honor’ and a ‘privilege’.
“We haven’t got the fine details yet but they want us for an ongoing tourism campaign,” Canon Neill told the Irish Independent.
“This is about more than Moneygall. Tourism is one of the possible areas that we can grow our country. There’s a product there waiting to be developed.”
Critical of the absence of tourist chiefs in Moneygall ahead of the visit, Canon Neill urged the government to take action before Monday’s arrival of the Presidential entourage.
“President Obama’s visit is a huge opportunity for Ireland,” added the Church of Ireland rector.
We still have time - it’s one week until the president comes; the queen of England is here now so there is every possibility that we can make both of these visits a huge success and showcase Ireland to the world.
“I feel very privileged to have been approached; it’s a proud moment to be an ambassador for your country.”