U.S. President Barack Obama has been cordially invited to a sheep shearing contest in County Mayo, the Irish Prime Minister's home, during his upcoming trip to Ireland.
The annual Connacht Sheep Shearing Championship is due to take place in Ballinrobe the same weekend that Obama will jet into Ireland.
Event organizers decided to extend the invitation on the basis that Obama’s great-great-great-grandfather Fulmouth Kearney may have kept livestock before he emigrated to the U.S. in the 1850s. His relations in Africa also herded goats in Kenya.
“We believe both sides of the president's family reared livestock,” Paddy Rock told the Mayo Advertiser.
“It is fitting that we extend this invitation as hand shearing was a way of life for his ancestors and he would receive a lesson in the art from local champion shearer Peter Hearty from Westport.”
He added: “His helicopter could land in the racecourse in Ballinrobe and he could well stay in the nearby Ashford Castle which was good enough for Ronnie Reagan in 1984.”
“If Michelle Obama comes with him we could install her as a celebrity judge for the Junior Shepherd or 'Little Bo Peep' competition,” Rock said.
Rock said that locals were already making 'Ballinrobe Welcomes Barack' banners in preparation for his arrival.
Meanwhile in his ancestral village of Moneygall in County Offaly, an Obama street party is being planned.
Several thousand people are expected to pack into the tiny village when the U.S. President drops in for a flying visit. The Midland Record in Ireland is reporting that the after party will able to facilitate 5,000 people.
The final details of Obama’s trip to Ireland are still not known, but it is expected that the he will arrive on May 23.
Stephen Neill, the Canon of Moneygall received a letter from Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny last Friday informing them that the village would be notified of an official visit date as soon as the White House confirms his itinerary.
“We don’t think it’s a security issue, it’s more logistics at this stage,” Canon Neill told the Midland Record.
“Progress certainly seems to be going well. We’re making lots of improvements and work is continuing at a pace never witnessed before,” he added.
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