Wednesday 20 September 2017

Children shade it when it comes to protecting VIP

'Secret Service agents' Ava Moroney, Robert Healy and Katie Hayes keep locals and the real Secret Service away from Barack Obama's ancestral home
'Secret Service agents' Ava Moroney, Robert Healy and Katie Hayes keep locals and the real Secret Service away from Barack Obama's ancestral home

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

LITTLE children wore special agent sunglasses as they protected US President Barack Obama's ancestral home yesterday.

Four-year-old Katie Hayes donned her white shades and enlisted the help of friends to stand outside the Kearney homestead in Moneygall.

Katie was imitating the Secret Service agents who are crawling all over the tiny Offaly village ahead of Mr Obama's arrival next week.

The children are fascinated with the men in their dark suits and sunglasses.

The real-life US security agents and Irish foreign affairs officials held meetings about security arrangements in Moneygall throughout the day.

American flags and Irish tricolours were raised side by side on Main Street by children from Moneygall National School, watched by principal Eugene Ryan.

A steady flow of Irish visitors and tourists from the US, eastern Europe and even Australia are arriving at the home village of Falmouth Kearney -- Barack Obama's great-great-great- grandfather -- to see the preparations for the US president's arrival.

Speaking outside her pub at the flag-raising ceremony, 80-year-old Julia Hayes said she was "very proud" of her area, adding: "We never thought we'd see the likes of it here."

Mr Ryan said the school is "chaos": "The children are doing lots of American history and work on the president. They've been doing research on the Obama family tree."

Meanwhile, the US embassy placed a bulk order for 'Obama Moneygall 2011' T-shirts from Billy Hayes's shop yesterday.

Mr Hayes confirmed he received the order from an official who told him the dignitaries would not have time to buy them during Mr Obama's trip.

Irish Independent

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