News of a Barack Obama state visit to Britain in May has sparked new speculation that the president may drop in on the Emerald Isle either before or after his visit there.

Presidents Kennedy, Clinton and Reagan all took in Ireland as well as Britain on visits during their presidency.

The White House announced that Michelle Obama would accompany her husband.

Any announcement on an Irish leg of the trip will doubtless be held off until the St.Patrick's season when Obama hosts an annual Irish gathering at the White House

Vice President Biden recently told a Washington insider that he had told President Obama that he wanted to visit Ireland, but Obama told him 'I'll get there first."

Obama's Irish roots have been traced to Moneygall, County Offaly on the Tipperary border.

The American Ambassador Dan Rooney has consistently stated that he believed a trip to Ireland by the president was inevitable.

The former Pittsburgh Steelers owner has a close relationship with the president, after supporting him early on in the key state of Pennsylvania