A bronze bust of President Barack Obama was today unveiled in his ancestral home of Moneygall, Co. Offaly.
Standing in the Barack Obama Plaza, a center constructed after his 2011 visit, the bust was unveiled by US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley, officially marking the current President’s historical connection with the village once again.
In 1850, Obama’s great-great-great grandfather Falmouth Kearney, the son of the village shoemaker, left for New York in the aftermath of the Great Hunger when he was just 19 years old. He settled in Deerfield, Ohio, where he married Charlotte Holloway and they had several children. Kearney’s final resting place was discovered in a cemetery in Kansas in 2014.
In May 2011, Moneygall was a hive of activity and the center of all Irish media attention as crowds descended on the Midlands town to witness US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle sup on a pint of Guinness in the birthplace of his Irish ancestors.
In tribute, the Obama Plaza visitor center now stands on the outskirts of the village showing mementos and photographs from the visit and remembering other US Presidents who shared strong connections to Ireland.
Focusing on Presidents Obama, Clinton, JFK, and Reagan, the Plaza already boasts a statue of Kennedy, along with the pint glass used by Michelle Obama when she learned how to pull the perfect pint.
“We tell the story of the Irish in America, and especially our influence on the Presidency. Of the 44 American Presidents, 22 have Irish ancestry,” Henry Healy, Obama’s closest Irish relative who manages the Plaza, told the Irish Independent.
As the bust was unveiled today, Ambassador O’Malley revealed that Obama often speaks of his visit to Ireland and may return to the country once his presidency has ended. He believes Obama was delighted at the welcome he received on his Irish visit and will definitely return to Moneygall in the years ahead.
Created by sculptor Mark Rhodes, the bust was commissioned by businessman Pat McDonagh, owner of the Obama plaza.