Failte First Family: the Obamas touch down in Ireland
Published 17/06/2013 | 05:00
US PRESIDENT Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle and their daughters Malia (14) and Sasha (12) have touched down in Belfast this morning. The President is due to attend the G8 summit in Fermanagh, but his wife and daughters are to head south of the border this morning.
The President is due to attend the G8 summit in Fermanagh, but his wife and daughters are to head south of the border this morning.
Meanwhile, a mini army of Shelbourne Hotel staff were giving the front facade of the famous old building a final wipedown – as gardai and American Secret Service agents hovered in the background.
Nothing was being left to chance – it was all hands on deck for the arrival of yet another famous visitor. This time it's Michelle Obama, the wife of US President Barack Obama.
She will be staying in the hotel – along with their daughters Malia (14) and Sasha (12) – while her husband discusses global affairs at the G8 summit about 160km up the road in deepest Fermanagh.
But yesterday afternoon both Shelbourne management and staff were staying strictly mum as the countdown to the arrival of its most famous guest in recent years got under way.
A number of gardai were strategically placed at the front and sides of the hotel.
And an array of prototype American Secret Service officers – complete with dark suits sunglasses and ear pieces – discretely kept a watchful an eye on arrivals and departures.
No expense has been spared in catering for the comforts of Mrs Obama and her party. It is understood she will stay in the luxurious €2,500-a-night Princess Grace suite.
It is understood a total of 30 rooms in the five-star, 265-bedroom hotel, have been booked for the visit of Mrs Obama and her entou- rage. During their stay in Dublin, Mrs Obama and and her daughters will visit Trinity College where they will view the Book of Kells.
Schoolchildren from Barack Obama's ancestral home in Moneygall, Co Offaly, have also been invited to attend a special performance of 'Riverdance' in Dublin's Gaiety .
Mrs Obama and Taoiseach Enda Kenny's wife Fionnuala O'Kelly will both address an audience of 1,000 schoolchildren at the theatre.
The speeches are expected to be informal and the two wives have built up a good relationship after meeting on four occasions in Washington and Dublin. The event will also be attended by President Micheal D Higgins's wife, Sabina, who is not speaking.
Sources are playing down the prospect of Mrs Obama going on an unplanned sightseeing and shopping trip in Dublin due to security considerations.
Tomorrow, Mrs Obama will visit Glendalough in Co Wicklow, before heading to Belfast.