The ancestral land of President Barack Obama in Moneygall, Co. Offaly, could be turned into a heritage center.

The land is that of Obama's great-great-great grandfather on his mother's side, Fulmouth Kearney, who was born and grew up there before emigrating to the U.S. in 1850.

The family homestead is currently owned by Offaly County Council which is hoping to create a heritage center.

Distant cousins of Obama's owned the land 30 years ago. "The council bought it from my father 30 years ago through a compulsory purchase order. Nobody knew the significance of it at the time," said Henry Healy, a distant cousin of Obama's.

The council suggested using the homestead to mark the president's Irish heritage and his connection with the village of his ancestors.

The next stage of the proposal will go before the council's housing, social and cultural strategic policy committee and then the full council for final approval.

Canon Stephen Neill, who helped New York genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak to uncover Obama's Irish connections, said Moneygall residents plan to form a committee in the coming weeks to highlight the connection between the new president and the small village of Moneygall.

"It has given an injection of interest in Moneygall and put us on the map. It is an opportunity which would be silly to pass by and, if it brings tourist revenue into the area, it would be good for the whole region," he said. 

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